Pietermaritzburg - King Goodwill Zwelithini has called on the provincial government to review the community outreach programmes, known as government izimbizo, saying these are a waste of public funds.
Speaking at the opening of the KwaZulu-Natal legislature on Wednesday, the king said despite huge budgets being poured into these programmes he was aware that some of the izimbizo did not yield results.
“With respect, I urge this House to review these programmes. The reports show that we can avoid major loss of public funds. I have no doubt that that if we review this we can save a lot of money.”
He said the government should ask itself if the general public was benefiting from izimbizo.
“Can you really be proud that you convened izimbizo and that people came in their numbers for you to only give them food takeaways,” he said
The king said it was time that the government did things differently, saying successful nations were those that were able to cut down on frills.
Welcoming the members of the fifth legislature, he urged parliamentarians to conduct themselves in a dignified manner.
“This is not the time to be proud and to be mean-spirited… We should learn to live together in harmony and accept each other’s differences. I am watching you and the people of KwaZulu-Natal are also watching you.”
He said members of the legislature should show respect to fellow members and to the people they lead.
This was seen as a reference to the conduct by MPs representing the EFF in Parliament last week.
He said politicians in KwaZulu-Natal should avoid anything that could plunge the province into violence, and should rather learn to work together for one common goal.
“The people of KZN have different religions, traditions and different political parties. Accept that all of that is a good recipe of life. What is important is how we use our differences to build a better future. What you should know is that you are here so that you can build a better future for future generations.
“The motto that ‘KZN deserves better’ should be a rallying call for all of us.”
The king’s speech was welcomed with enthusiasm by all the political parties, with the IFP calling it the “best speech by the king”.
Premier Senzo Mchunu thanked the king for his speech, saying that his administration would work towards improving the lives of all citizens without favour as the king had instructed.
DA provincial leader, Sizwe Mchunu, said his party welcomed the king’s submission that the new administration should work under the theme that “KZN deserves better”, saying this was in line with the DA’s own calls.
Blessed Gwala of the IFP said it was now up to the premier and his executive to heed the calls made by the king.
Vikizitha Mlotshwa, the leader of the NFP caucus in the legislature, also welcomed the king’s address.
“On the issue of izimbizo we have also been saying that these are a waste of money. Not only that, but also government wastes millions of rand in advertisements.
“We believe these monies could be better used providing services to the people, so we support the king 100 percent.”
The EFF’s Vusi Khoza said the speech contained words of wisdom.
“We are grateful to the king for having addressed us. Every nation needs leaders to guide it and we are grateful that his majesty is here for that,” said Khoza.