Premier roasts King’s Trust

2017-04-19 14:20
Royal Household under fire for failing to maintain KZN's king.

Royal Household under fire for failing to maintain KZN's king. (File)

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The Royal Household, which looks after the interests of King Goodwill Zwelithini and his family, came under fire during Premier Willies Mchunu’s budget speech.

The trust, which remains in shambles and is unable to achieve its core functions to raise funds and commercialise the king’s grazing land, was slammed by MPLs for its failure to be self-sufficient despite receiving millions from provincial government year in and year out.

Mchunu on Tuesday told the provincial legislature the trust will this financial year receive R58,8 million from the public purse to pay for the queens’ expenses, tuition fees, transportation and medical expenses for the royal family, as well as the royal farming activities.

Mchunu admitted that the trust had not been able to achieve its core function and said the matter would be addressed with the trust “as a matter of urgency with a view to improve the work of the trust in this aspect”.

NFP MPL Njabulo Mlaba said the move to incorporate the trust into the office of the premier, had left the trust in shambles.

“The Royal Household continues to struggle to be self-sustaining and it is largely dependent on the allocations it receives from the department.”

Mlaba called on the premier to monitor “closely” how the trust spends the R5 million it has allocated for fund-raising this financial year.

“There is no business plan indicating any projected expenditure for this so-called fund-raising. We should not allow R5 million in taxpayers’ funds to go down the drain,” he said.

ANC MPL Sibusiso Gcabashe pointed out that the king’s grazing land presented a revenue-generating source, but this opportunity was not being exploited. Gcabashe said the provincial government was not getting value for money, despite pumping what amounts to over R161 000 into the trust every day of the year.

“After three years of receiving financial support, they should be self-sufficient, but it is not the case,” he said.

IFP MPL Blessed Gwala said it was “embarrassing for this legislature that this department is failing to meet its obligations to one of the most important citizens of our province, namely His Majesty the King”.

Gwala said the visit by the office of the premier portfolio committee to the king’s palaces, had revealed how the trust had failed in its mandate to maintain the royal palaces.

MORE FRUITLESS EXPENDITURE

Mchunu also raised concerns about the audit outcomes of provincial government departments and municipalities.

“We remain concerned about our ongoing inability to ensure clean audits year after-year across all spheres of government, despite the AG consistently pointing out to us unauthorised expenditure, irregular expenditure, as well as fruitless and wasteful expenditure.

“We consistently say that it cannot be correct that nobody is held accountable for failing to achieve clean audits. Consequence management will apply in the workplace in order to turn this situation around.

“The statutory responsibility of accounting officers and all senior managers is to maintain effective systems of internal controls, and they must therefore be held accountable,” he said.

Turning to municipalities, Mchunu said “we want municipalities to be able to detect early signs of administrative or financial distress”.

“Considering the fact that we have just started a new term of office of local government, we have acknowledged that the area of financial management remains vulnerable and a risk.

“Every new term of office of local government is often associated with disruptive practice that erodes experience and institutional memory.

“Interventions by both the Department of Co-operative Governance and Treasury will continue to be co-ordinated through the Back to Basics project to ensure the stability of the local government administrative machinery.”


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