Trim spendthrift King Goodwill Zwelithini's grandiose cultural plans
While the rest of us mere mortals sink deeper into debt, weighed down by a soaring petrol price, job insecurity and the rising cost of living, Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini lives in a La-La Land all of his own.
His is truly a world apart from the South Africa most of us experience in our daily lives: it is a world of bare-breasted maidens and ceremonial reed dances, where no expense is spared to keep His Highness on the throne and in the style he has become accustomed to.
Should anyone dare threaten or even question the king's royal expenditures, or his feudal grip on his subjects by way of the Ingonyama Trust, they are dealt with by vague or not-so-vague threats of upheaval, even secession.
Most of us are tightening our belts, but not the king, who lives large, like the sheikh of a Middle Eastern oil producer.
Consider the latest spending debacle involving His Highness. According to reports, completion of the scandal-ridden "cultural village" at his Enyokeni Palace in Nongoma, northern KwaZulu-Natal, could cost hard-pressed taxpayers up to R1-billion more.Some R129-million of our money has already been blown on the project - with little to show for it. In February, parliament's portfolio committee on arts and culture, after a site visit to Enyokeni in September, issued a damning report in which it found no one had approved the R129-million for the village and that construction had gone ahead without proper planning. Phase one included a grandiose amphitheatre for 2000 VIP guests, a 2.5million-litre reservoir which is leaking, and concrete columns in the arrival court, all of which lie in ruins.
Now comes news that the project, halted by Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa in 2013 amid reports of gross mismanagement and wastage, could cost an astonishing R1-billion to complete if it goes ahead, starting with the demolition of what has been erected.
If His Highness hasn't already been told his spendthrift ways are an affront to millions of battling South Africans, this is the time to do it. Bending the knee to him is one thing; doling out cash as if we have nothing better to spend it on is another thing altogether.