King Goodwill fights back
Zulu king Goodwill Zwelithini has hit back at reports that he has asked for R17-million to build a palace for his young queen, saying officials from the KwaZulu-Natal government were responsible for the request.
The royal family's spokesman, Prince Mbonisi Zulu, said the monarch was "sick and tired" of the royal h ouse being embroiled in controversy.
"I have noticed that, on several occasions, when government officials fail to answer questions relating to their work they hide behind my name and that of the royal house," said the king.
Last week, Mduduzi Mthembu, the chief financial officer of the KwaZulu-Natal royal household department, tabled a request for R12-million for the building of a new royal residence.
The department also asked for R5-million to turn a farm into a palace for Queen Zola Mafu - the king's sixth wife.
Mthembu said it was requested that the R17-million be paid in batches over the next three years.
Zulu said the king wants KwaZulu-Natal director-general Nhlanhla Ngidi to say when he made a request for more funding.
The king said the incident confirmed old suspicions.
"Some of these concerns are that some people in the department are not well equipped to run the affairs of this department," he said.
"Many people will be surprised to learn that all the money that is always said to be budgeted for [the royal household] in fact ends up taking care of the officials of the department."
Zulu confirmed that a meeting will be convened with Ngidi to clarify the matter, and that a letter will be written to the speaker of the KwaZulu-Natal legislature, Peggy Nkonyeni, inviting the legislators to visit the palaces.
It also emerged on Friday during a finance committee meeting at the legislature that the department went over budget by R1.5-million in sprucing up the royal family's rondavels at KwaDlamahlahla palace last year.
Responding to the finance committee's concerns, Mthembu said the royal family had requested that the "plain" rondavels be upgraded into luxury rondavels to include bath tubs, air-conditioners and ceilings of "acceptable standard".
The department said that this was in line with the planned upgrading and rehabilitation of palaces.
Committee chairman Belinda Scott said that the royal family has been overspending for years despite being told to tighten its belt.
She said that a meeting will be scheduled with the department to discuss the tightening of procurement policies by the royal family.