The king of big spending

2008-04-12 00:00

Apart from spending over half a million rand financing the shopping sprees of Zulu queens, the Royal Household Department also spent millions on travel and hotel accommodation for King Goodwill Zwelithini and his entourage.

Between April and September 2007, the department spent R2,5 million on the king’s travels. On four occasions, the hotel bills were more than R5 000 per person per night.

A report presented to the Finance portfolio committee on Thursday says that in many instances, hotel accommodation "is in excess of R1 000 per person per night, which is the average cost of a four-star hotel in the Gauteng region".

Expenditure on the king’s travels has been identified as a source of the department’s over-expenditure.

In the current financial year (2007/08), the department has recorded an over-expenditure of about R1,35 million.

Another high expenditure listed in the report relates to the exorbitant fees paid to one consultant writing the king’s speeches.

According to the report, between May and June 2007 the department paid Professor Otty Nxumalo R335 490 for speeches and research.

It is not clear whether proper procurement procedures were followed.

Nxumalo is the co-author of Zwelithini’s authorised biography and has been named as one of the members of the soon-to-be-established royal household trust, which will be responsible for fundraising for the upkeep of the royal household.

The Royal department is already in hot water.

The legislature’s Finance oversight committee yesterday decided that clear policy guidelines must be set for the department’s expenditures.

KZN director-general Kwazi Mbanjwa said there is an existing document of this nature that needs editing. "I cannot say how long it will take because we still have to consult the king on this," he added.

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