King Goodwill Zwelithini is the only king allocated an annual budget. File photo
Durban – Outgoing ANC MP Setlamorago Godfrey Thobejane has accused the government of discriminating against six kings in the country by giving them lesser treatment than that afforded their counterpart, King Goodwill Zwelithini, the only one allocated an annual budget.

Thobejane, who recently resigned from Parliament due to his unhappiness with the way the government handles certain issues, said he would now use his position as president of the Congress of Traditional Leaders of SA to fight for the equal treatment of all seven kings.

The traditional leader of Limpopo said he was supportive of the Zulu king being allocated the budget.

“We want the rest of the kings to get that kind of budget, and once all of them receive it we would then start fighting to increase the budget of our kings in South Africa.”

Outgoing ANC MP Setlamorago Godfrey Thobejane has accused the government of discriminating against six kings in the country by giving them lesser treatment.

Thobejane, who was reported to be crisscrossing the country lobbying other traditional leaders to start their own political party, told Independent Media he had not resigned from the ANC.

“We are unable to speak about increment while we are struggling to say we want all of them to get the budget,” he said.

He said senior traditional leaders, amakhosi, should also have their own budgets to help their traditional councils to function.

According to 2014’s remuneration rates for traditional leaders, each of the seven kings get R1.03 million a year, amakhosi get R188424 and izinduna, R79 364

“Our call is very clear, we are saying even the senior traditional leaders’ council should be allocated the budget. We want the rest to get the allocation,” he said.

When asked if the government would sustain the budgets for all seven kings, Thobejane said: “Our president started it and he must finish it."

“You can’t do left, and when you are supposed to do right you start telling us that it might not be sustainable. Once you start something you must finish it, you don’t start and stop in between.”

Thobejane rejected arguments that the national government should not be blamed for prioritising the Zulu king, because his budget fell under the KwaZulu-Natal government.

“We have one revenue collection stream in South Africa, there is not a KwaZulu-Natal revenue collection. There is one, which is within the National Treasury."

“It is the Treasury that is allocating budgets to provinces per demand,” he said.

The Zulu king’s annual budget of R658.6 million is for the upkeep of the royal family, including running farms and maintaining palaces.

This budget, which was reduced by 9% last year from R753.4million due to austerity measures, is located in the Royal Household Trust, which is under the office of Premier Willies Mchunu.

However, Thobejane insisted that the kings were the responsibility of President Jacob Zuma, “not the premiers”.

“KwaZulu-Natal has set a trend. Even those who would become premiers in the future would insist on allocating the budget to the king. We want that to happen in other provinces,” he said.

King Zwelithini’s adviser, Judge Jerome Ngwenya, said this matter had not been brought to the king’s attention.

He said the king’s budget was the product of the Convention for a Democratic South Africa negotiations in the early 1990s.

“At the time he was the only recognised king in the country. That is why there was the Nhlapo Commission to investigate the existence of other kings. The government should give clarity on this because chapter 11 and 12 of the constitution say nothing about their budget except recognising their status.”

The Mercury