Royal Household finally in order

2014-07-12 00:00

THE Royal Household Department is finally out of the dogbox after years of overspending and earning the ire of the Legislature’s Finance Committee.

Yesterday, the department, which looks after the affairs of the Zulu royal family, received a pat on the back from the committee for its fiscal discipline. It had previously got into trouble for overspending on palace renovations and other expenditure.

Chief financial officer (CFO) Mduduzi Mthembu said renovations and refurbishments on three palaces were almost complete and money was left over.

MPL Lionel Mtshali reminded the department of the derelict state of the Embelebeleni Palace in kwaMashu, Durban. He asked why it was not being renovated and why a police task team were living there.

Mthembu said that King Goodwill Zwelithini had himself expressed concern about the palace being excluded.

“I don’t have the answers for you. Similarly we don’t have control over who occupies the palaces. I will have to discuss it with my principals and get back to you,” he said.

Officials from KZN Treasury at the hearing confirmed that unaudited reports indicated that the department was well within budget. It received further kudos when the Finance committee learnt that the department had begun paying back over R9 million that it had overspent in the past.

In an effort to rein in the department’s overexpenditure, the KZN Legislature had passed an act compelling repayment. Mthembu said R5 million had been returned to the Treasury over the past two financial years and the remaining R4,9 million was due to be paid in 2015/16.

The Royal Household has perennially been in trouble for overspending since 2006. The department’s budget currently stands at about R66 million.

A mix-up over the date of yesterday’s hearing meant that all representatives from the Royal Household Trust, an entity of the department, were not present. Their section of the hearing will take place on July 25. Representatives of the department said the king would get married the following day, but they would be present at the Legislature for their budget review.

• King Goodwill Zwelithini willl marry his sixth wife, Swazi Princess Zola Zelusiwe kaMafu, in a traditional ceremony.

The ceremony is expected to be held at Ondini Royal Palace, Ulundi.

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