MP backtracks comment on king

2012-10-19 00:00

ANC MP Mandla Mandela has backtracked on a statement he made that the Zulu monarch was receiving preferential treatment from the government.

Speaking to The Witness yesterday, Mandela said his statements about inconsistency in government support to traditional leaders made at the weekend was not an attack directed at Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini.

“The Mandela and Great Place of Mvezo have great respect for the Zulu king. We have a strong relationship that goes a long way,” he said, referring to the marriage between Zwelithini’s daughter Princess Nandi and AbaThembu chief Mfundo Mtirara, who comes from the same Madiba clan of the Mandelas.

Mandela said he had raised the question of unequal treatment of kings not because there were strained relations between the Mandela family and the Zulu monarch.

“The problem is with the government and how it provides support to traditional leaders,” he said.

Mandela, the chief of Mvezo, criticised the Department of Co-operative Government and Traditional Affairs in Parliament last week for inconsistency in the support it gave to traditional leaders.

He reportedly complained about the Ingonyama Trust Board, King Goodwill Zwelithini’s state-maintained palaces and police that protected the king and his residences — which other kings did not enjoy.

Mandela was also quoted as saying Zulu king Goodwill Zwelithini had more than 100 police personnel assigned to his palaces. “And yet you don’t get the same treatment rendered to other traditional leaders,” Mail & Guardian quoted him as saying.

His comments came in the wake of similar claims made by Congress of South African Traditional Leaders of South Africa president Phathekile Holomisa, who called for a framework to afford traditional leaders of the same rank similar privileges and benefits. “The Zulu king is treated differently from the Pondo king, the Pedi king, the Ndebele king and the Venda king,” Holomisa reportedly said.

Zwelithini and his royal family receive a budget of R59 million while other kings receive R978 321 in salaries a year.

Mandela said he had raised the issues as an MP serving on the portfolio committee on traditional affairs to hold the government accountable. He insisted all he wanted was the standardised framework of support for all the country’s kings.

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