King Goodwill Zwelithini Picture: Bongani Mbatha/African News Agency (ANA)

Durban - The public protector is investigating allegations of maladministration, corruption and the unconscionable use of public funds by the national Department of Arts and Culture.

This is in connection with the failed cultural village project at Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini’s Enyokeni Palace in Nongoma.

According to a reply by the protector’s office on Friday to Dr Andile Hlatshwayo, the chairperson of Ubumbano Lokuthula Organisation, an NGO sympathising with King Zwelithini, the complaint is being investigated in accordance with the provisions of section 182 (1) of the Constitution.

Hlatshwayo had lodged a complaint with the protector last month following his suspicions of corruption and maladministration in connection with an amount of R131million meant for the creation of a cultural centre for maidens five years ago.

The centre is incomplete and Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa reportedly halted the project in 2016 following allegations of wrongdoing.

The cultural centre was requested by the king and the Zulu royal house in 2013, and was meant for maidens who arrive from around the country for the reed dance, and to host other cultural activities.

It was to comprise an amphitheatre, playground, museum and dormitory, making it suitable to host cultural activities.

It was reported that a roof covering and ablution facilities were still outstanding due to inadequate funds.

“The investigator will focus on whether the department improperly diverted public funds that were appropriated to other projects and to use the funds for the construction of a cultural village at the Enyokeni Palace in Nongoma, and if so, whether such conduct constitutes improper conduct and maladministration,” reads the response.

Also being investigated is whether the procurement and appointment of consultants for the job was justifiable and in line with the Public Finance Management Act and Treasury regulations.

Further, the public protector will investigate whether the Independent Development Trust, as the implementing agent for the project, did the job without proper planning, resulting in an escalation of the implementation costs.

Mthethwa’s spokesperson, Asanda Magaqa, had not responded by the time of publication.

Daily News