Durban - Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini’s Ondini palace was renovated at the expense of the provincial government, apparently in preparation for the king’s recent wedding to his sixth wife, Zola Mafu.
This emerged on Tuesday when the Department of Public Works appeared before the finance portfolio committee for a budget hearing at the provincial legislature in Pietermaritzburg.
Public Works MEC Ravi Pillay told the committee that the palace was among properties on which the provincial treasury had spent more than R1 million upgrading and renovating.
The money came from the 2013/14 budget.
He said the money was also used to renovate two ministerial houses in Ulundi which had remained unused since the provincial legislature moved to Pietermaritzburg.
Pillay said the provincial government had to intervene because the palace had needed urgent revamping.
Although the maintenance of the royal palaces fell under the Department of the Royal Household, a decision was taken that the provincial treasury should intervene.
“The roof was leaking and some renovations needed to be done,” Pillay said.
Public works had initially planned to dispose of the houses. However, that was stopped because the king wanted to use them to house his guests.
Pillay also told the committee there was a debate on whether the government should create its own construction company for government work.
He said this debate had started at national level because there was a view that private companies were not doing enough to empower formerly disadvantaged communities.