It was with great interest that I read the recent articles on news 24 relating to the financial matters of the Zulu Royal Household.
In reality it reads like a very poorly run African state, where Royals live lavishly despite the realities of their surroundings.
A measure of perspective and sensitivity I think, is though necessary in this public debate. As for South Africa as a whole and in particular those of Zulu descent, this must not be seen to be an attack on the heritage and culture of the tribe itself but should be put in the terms of a reality check of sorts and an adjustment to the place and times in which we live.
In this context, the emotional comments made at the end of these articles, whilst to be expected and possibly even understandable, serve no purpose. They are like the flaying blows of an unfit, poorly skilled heavyweight boxer, which use up a lot of energy and don’t hit the target and thus remain largely ineffective.
First of all, whilst recognizing these tribal monarchies as a part of the heritage of this country, they would be wise to know their place in our modern constitutional democracy. A democracy in which all South Africans, including Zulus, had a chance to participate. In this democracy their true worth needs to be quantified and I need to assume that this has been done if a budget has been set aside to sustain their livelihood.
It is thus baffling to read of unaccounted funds and a spokesperson, who, through sheer ignorance refers to the British Royal family in his arguments. Mr. Mncwango would do well to educate himself of the facts, that whilst his African King is building a mansion for yet another wife and doing very little to contribute to our economy, the British Royal family is recognized as a brand. One that can be quantified in terms of the amount, that their very existence contributes to the British economy. Whilst I am no Royal apologist, this definitely makes financial sense to me.
I do think though that what does make people angry and drives them to make these emotionally charged comments is the arrogance with which it comes across. The very attitude that questions the right of anybody to ask questions or demand accountability about these issues, the very attitude that has seen many people despise our current democratically elected government, does little to appease the people who fund this monarchy.
It seems ironic that whenever we read of overspending it is always something to do with a lavish lifestyle, a luxurious trip, an overspent expense account or a royal household that refuses to live within the very extravagant means afforded to them by an already overburdened tax payer. Yet, when there is an underspent government budget, it always has to do with essentials like housing, education or vacancies that cannot be filled due to lack of skill, (read affirmative action and the unwillingness to use the resources at hand in a stubborn attempt to right wrongs of the past by prejudicing perfectly healthy, educated South Africans of the wrong ethnic background).
I would therefore argue that just like so many things in our young democracy, this needs to be looked at and addressed.
Too many issues died at the birth of our democracy in 1994. Like all living things our little baby democracy needs to be fed, nourished, guided and educated in order to grow. We need to address these issues on ongoing basis and we need to force accountability in order for it grow into the responsible adult democracy we all had ideals for the day it was born.
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