The king's in his counting house, counting his money

27 September 2017 - 07:09 By The Times Editorial
Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini. File photo.
Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini. File photo.

King Goodwill Zwelithini has cried poverty, using the Shaka Day commemoration on Sunday to lash out at the KwaZulu-Natal government for not paying him enough. He said he received "no money" from the government because it "does not recognise me".

But this simply isn't true - on both counts.

Financially, His Majesty receives an annual salary of R1-million and a few months ago the Royal Household was given just shy of R59-million by the office of the KZN premier.

Beyond this, Zwelithini is also the recipient of huge infrastructure projects. A week ago the Sunday Times reported that a parliamentary oversight committee was shocked at how "chickens, goats and cattle now have the run" of his R129-million eNyokeni palace in Nongoma - a palace built at taxpayers' expense. Not only was the building, stopped two years ago, completely shoddy (illustrated by the fact that a R17-million water reservoir was leaking), it also emerged that the project would cost as much as R1-billion to complete.

Not bad for someone who doesn't receive money from the government - at a palace that is used for one event a year, the Reed Dance.

And when it comes to him not being recognised, that is equally untrue. Zwelithini is so recognised by the KZN government that he always makes the official address at the opening of the provincial legislature.

By the prominence of his position, Zwelithini has the opportunity to do amazing amounts of good. But for positive impact, there seems to be controversy. Whether it's making comments that were seen as a trigger for xenophobic violence or claiming he doesn't receive money from government and isn't recognised, Zwelithini manages to avoid that potential.

And as he sits in his court counting the money he allegedly doesn't have, he's missing the chance to use his stature to make a bigger positive impact.