KING Goodwill Zwelithini has ordered Premier Senzo Mchunu to fire the newly appointed chairman of the Royal Household Trust Board, which looks after his family affairs.

The provincial government announced the appointment, in April, of former IFP Youth Brigade president Thulasizwe Buthelezi as the chairman of the board.

But the king’s adviser Judge Jerome Ngwenya, the former chairman of the board, said that his majesty, who is known as Umlomo onganithethi manga - loosely translated as the one whose words can never be opposed - confronted Mchunu about Buthelezi’s appointment and ordered that he be removed from the board.

Said the adviser: “Buthelezi was appointed, but the king said he was not happy with the board. The premier decided that the appointment should be reviewed.”

The premier has since replaced Buthelezi with Professor Sihawu Ngubane, who is head of African Languages at the University of KwaZulu-Natal.

Ngwenya said Buthelezi had never even been introduced to the king as the new chairman, and had also not chaired a single meeting.

Other members of the board appointed along with Buthelezi were Dr Jimmy Mfanimpela Mthethwa; Prince Mbonisi Zulu, who is the king’s spokesman; Professor Musa Khulekani Zulu, Zanamuhla Primrose Khanyile; Professor Sazile Mtshali and Dr Ashwin Trikamjee. Ngwenya said only Buthelezi had been sacked from the board.

He said the king had learnt about Buthelezi’s appointment from The Mercury and contacted Mchunu to express his displeasure.

“The premier said it was a mistake. But if you ask Buthelezi how many meetings he attended, he would tell you the truth,” said Ngwenya.

He said the king did not explain why he was opposed to Buthelezi’s appointment to head the entity that cares for his queens, children, farmers, livestock and palaces.

Buthelezi expressed surprise that Ngwenya had said he was no longer the chairman.

“Just say that I declined to comment but I am planning something about this,” said Buthelezi.

Ngubane confirmed that he had been appointed in April. He said he had already chaired two board meetings. Ngubane also did not know why the king had rejected Buthelezi.

The premier’s spokesman, Thami Ngubane, said after consultations Sihawu Ngubane had been deemed appropriate for the appointment as chairman. He could not explain why the king rejected Buthelezi.

Debts

The trust has been engulfed in financial troubles, which led to its being unable to settle debts of R4 million owed to various service providers.

A Pietermaritzburg businessman, Sizwe Gwala, of Xolisisizwe Trading and Projects, said he was still owed R1.5m by the trust for organising the king’s wedding to Swazi-born Queen Zola Mafu of Ondini Palace.

It has been reported the wedding took place in Ulundi at a cost of R4m, but it was believed the amount could have been higher.

Other issues facing the trust included a former chief financial officer of the trust, Lucas Buthelezi, taking the king to the CCMA demanding compensation after he had been forced to resign.

Lucas Buthelezi had refused to pay the bill for the wedding, which he said had not been budgeted for.

Ngwenya said the trust owed about R4m to various service providers.

Sihawu Ngubane said the trust had been working on settling the debts.

“We presented the matter as an item at the previous board meeting.

“We are calling a special board meeting on Wednesday to discuss that issue,” said Ngubane.