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Royal Trust 'not profitable from the outset'

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KWAZULU-Natal Premier Willies Mchunu is seeking a meeting with members of the Zulu Royal Trust board to find out why the trust has failed to be profitable since its inception eight years ago.

Mchunu, speaking at the legislature in Pietermaritzburg yesterday, admitted that he was under pressure from Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini, who is unhappy with the performance of the trust.

The proposed meeting with members of the trust comes after MPLs questioned Mchunu about the trust’s failure to function as a “self-sustainable entity”.

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Premier Willies Mchunu and King Goodwill Zwelithini.

The trust had been allocated R58.9million this financial year, of which R16.5m was set aside for the trust’s operations.

“The king feels very bad, and he is not happy with the fact that he is not seeing any tangible progress,” said Mchunu.

When the trust was introduced by former premier S’bu Ndebele, it was meant to be an independent entity that would generate funds for the king’s upkeep without relying on the fiscus.

Part of its responsibility was to raise funds and generate income through operating the king’s farms as profitable businesses entities.

Mchunu refused to be held responsible for the poor performance of the trust when he was not at the helm of the provincial government.

“My view is that the processes are there, and all we have to do is to capacitate the board of the Royal Household Trust, which is the contingent that must lead the programme of the trust, including fund-raising.

“They must also manage issues of accountability to both the king and the premier These are matters that I am going to address,” said Mchunu.

He said specific deadlines to get the trust “up and running” would have to be set.

He was confident that the R16.5m would help to get the board “to move faster”.

ANC MPL Sipho Gcabashe said he was disappointed when the premier’s portfolio committee members visited the king’s “so-called” farms and palaces recently.

Gcabashe said the committee members did not see the farms but instead “saw grazing land, which is common in rural areas”.

“We have not seen returns for the money that has been invested by the province.

“We keep investing money there without seeing profit,” Gcabashe pointed out.

Out of R8m that was allocated for the maintenance of the king’s palaces, less than R2m is left, without indications as to what has been done with the rest of the money, he said.

“It was difficult to justify how the money was used. We requested treasury to give us officials who were dealing with renovations and refurbishments of the palaces.

“We raised our concerns and requested that they should give us a breakdown of how the money had been spent,” he said.

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