No funds yet allocated to renovate King Goodwill Zwelithini's eight palaces
Durban - The KwaZulu-Natal government insists that renovations at the eight palaces belonging to King Goodwill Zwelithini will still go ahead, despite money not being allocated during its first round of budget allocations.
Finance MEC Ravi Pillay explained that the renovations would be accommodated when the provincial budget was adjusted later this year.
Some of the palaces are said to be in poor condition, and among them is the Machobeni palace near the Swaziland border.
The issue of the palaces came up on Friday, when Pillay tabled the province’s 2020/21 budget.
“Three areas that possibly need to be included in the adjustment budget are funds for the decentralisation of the internal audit function in the province, renovations to the legislature building, as well as capital requirements for the king,” Pillay announced.
City Press reported on Sunday that a senior official at the provincial treasury, Nelly Shezi, told a media briefing in Pietermaritzburg that it first needed to conduct an analysis of how much was needed before allocating the money.
Pillay told Independent Media on Sunday that the fact that no money was allocated for the king’s palaces did not imply that they would not be revamped at all.
He said funds for the renovations would come from the R390million contingency reserve the province maintains for unplanned expenses.
“There is an ongoing costing exercise that needs to be done, and once it is done we will know how much is needed.
“We should be able to do the renovations before the end of the year,” Pillay said.
In his adjustment budget last year, an amount of R4m was set aside for the palaces’ renovations, but was rolled over because it was not spent.
Acting spokesperson for the Zulu royal house Prince Mbonisi Zulu said the matter of the palaces was being discussed by the king and Premier Sihle Zikalala.
“This issue is now being discussed by higher authorities, (which include) the owner of the palaces and the leader of the government. So, if we discuss it here, we will mess it up,” said Zulu.
“Let them discuss how the halting of the renovations came about. For now, this matter is not for public consumption,” the prince said.
In the past financial year, the royal house budget stood at R66.7m, and some political parties queried it. However, Zikalala defended the allocation and said despite the current tough economic conditions, the provincial government remained committed to assisting the royal household.
The premier said the king served as a symbol of unity in KZN and continues to be the custodian of Zulu culture in the province.