Zulu queens want drivers to step on the gas - at all hours

Chauffeurs complain that they have to sleep in their cars

14 October 2018 - 00:04 By BONGANI MTHETHWA

Zulu royal household employees assigned to transport King Goodwill Zwelithini's six wives say they are being driven around the bend by the queens.
Drivers say they are tired of being at the queens' beck and call at odd hours, being made to accompany them on shopping trips and sometimes being forced to sleep in the car because accommodation had not been booked for them.
Five drivers are assigned to King Zwelithini's wives, Queen Sibongile MaDlamini, Queen Buhle MaMathe, Queen Mantfombi Dlamini, Queen Thandikela Ndlovu, Queen Nompumelelo Mchiza and Queen Zola Zelusiwe Mafu.
They lodged a grievance in February with the office of KwaZulu-Natal premier Willies Mchunu.
The drivers complained about not being promoted after working for the Zulu royals for years, their subsistence and travel claims not being paid immediately, and allowances not being reasonably adjusted.
They also took the issue to the general public service sector bargaining council, which has declared a dispute with the premier's office.
The drivers claim they are sometimes called in at awkward hours to take the queens on trips to Johannesburg, Durban, Pietermaritzburg or Empangeni for appointments that include social appearances, meetings, medical visits, beauty treatments and shopping.
"You can't say 'I will knock off at this particular time.' Some drivers have been recalled from leave and they are afraid to speak against the queens," said one of the drivers.
The royal household trust was established by the KwaZulu-Natal provincial government to make the Zulu monarch and royal family less of a tax burden. It was meant to replace the royal household department but both entities now operate parallel to one another.
King Zwelithini complained earlier this year that too many staff had been absorbed by the trust after the dissolution of the royal household department and that he did not know what they were doing.
Mchunu's spokesperson, Cecil Msomi, said a meeting was held with the aggrieved drivers who were advised of the department of public service and administration's guidelines for drivers.
He said he couldn't comment about the frustrations relating to the queens and said the salary scale was recommended by the former royal household department.
He said that after initial contacts, "the drivers refused to speak to our officials and indicated that the matter is with their union".
"Labour relations subsequently received a referral to the general public service sector bargaining council, declaring a dispute which is now unfolding," said Msomi.
The Zulu monarch's annual budget was increased by R7m to R65.8m in the 2018/19 budget vote.
The king, who married his sixth wife in 2014, is known for his penchant for palatial homes and elaborate tradition celebrations - such as the annual reed dance - farms and imported vehicles.

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