King slams corrupt officials
Skhumbuzo Miya, The Witness
Pietermaritzburg - Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini has launched yet another scathing attack on corrupt officials in provincial municipalities, describing them as “thieves who steal from the poor”.
The king said this during the official opening of the KwaZulu-Natal House of Traditional Leaders at the Royal Showgrounds on Tuesday.
“We appreciate the fact that the provincial government has come up with plans to capacitate municipalities so that they will improve service delivery and development to the communities,” he said.
“However, corruption is rife in certain municipalities and I am very concerned because some councillors do not want to work with traditional leaders.
“Why? Is it because they want to advance their hidden interests?
Serving at the will of the people
“They forget … that they are elected public representatives who are serving at the will of the people.”
The king congratulated the MEC for Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Nomusa Dube, “for decisively dealing with corrupt municipality officials”.
“I want to congratulate the MEC … Corruption tarnishes the image of this government and where there is evidence of corruption, the MEC must act, even if it means that people must be sent to jail,” the king said to applause from the house.
His concerns come against the background of four local municipalities being put under administration by the province for, among other things, alleged corruption, mismanagement and poor financial management.
The municipalities are uMhlabuyalingana, iNdaka, uKhahlamba and Msunduzi Municipality.
Many other KZN municipalities are being investigated by the Department of Co-operative Governance.
Paying for rates
The monarch also made a call on the provincial government to embark on a campaign to educate rural communities on the criteria for paying rates.
He said there is still confusion as to which individuals are exempted from paying rates.
“The issue I want to reflect on is that of rural levies on land owned by amakhosi.
“I am encouraged by efforts on the part of government that are aimed at ensuring that the disadvantaged communities are protected from paying these levies,” the monarch said.
“What needs to be clarified is whether owners of shopping centres, lodges and game reserves are compelled to pay rural levies,” he added.
Although the 2010 FIFA World Cup is only two months away, the king said, traditional leaders can be roped in to help mobilise communities to ensure that South Africa hosts the most successful world soccer showpiece.
He also called for an urgent meeting with Education MEC Senzo Mchunu to discuss the issue of dilapidated rural schools.
To promote co-operative governance across all spheres of government, the king said, the creation of an environment of trust among leaders is crucial.
“I am fully aware and I do appreciate that since the inauguration of the new government, there has been a series of meetings aimed at strengthening relations between government and the traditional leaders.
“I want to encourage this approach because it is through collaboration and sharing of ideas that we will be able to deal with our challenges.”
Premier Zweli Mkhize delivered the provincial government’s response to the king’s address, and the deputy chairperson of the house, inkosi Mpiyezintombi Mzimela, gave a vote of thanks.
The former chairperson of the house, Mangosuthu Buthelezi, leaders from the National House of Traditional Leaders and traditional leaders from other provinces were also at the opening