KZN Premier Sihle Zikalala has defended government's decision to continue with financial support to Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini, despite reservations by some political parties. Picture: ANA

Pietermaritzburg - KwaZulu-Natal Premier Sihle Zikalala has defended government's decision to continue with financial support to Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini, despite reservations by some political parties. 

This after he announced that the Zulu King and the royal household would receive R66.7 million during the presentation of the budget vote for the Office of the Premier at the KwaZulu-Natal Legislature on Thursday. 

Zikalala said despite tough economic conditions government remains committed to assisting the king and the royal household. 

"His Majesty, the King serves as a symbol of unity in KwaZulu-Natal and continues to be the custodian of Zulu culture, an important defining character of this province," said Zikalala. 

The king attends to events such as the opening of the legislature, opening of the KZN House of Traditional Leaders and Reed Dance ceremony. 

He admitted that a plan needs to be developed so that the king and the royal household operated without use of public funds. "A revenue generating plan has been  developed for the Royal Household Trust that will be implemented in 2019/20," said the premier. Many have been critical that while the Royal Household Trust has been trumpeted for many years, the Zulu King still relies on the provincial budget.

The Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) welcomed the premier's allocation to the Zulu King and the royal household, saying this was an important institution that needs support. IFP Member of Provincial Legislature and leader of the official opposition Velenkosini Hlabisa said they believe that more money should be injected into the royal household and traditional structures to support it.

"We are of the view that the support that is given to the royal household is something that is right to be done by the government of our province. The support should also be extended to Amakhosi and Izinduna because these are important pillars in the structure of traditional leadership," said the IFP MPL.          

Democratic Alliance(DA) leader Zwakele Mncwango said it was time for a re-look at the royal trust that had failed to live up to its billing as a structure that would make the royal household self-sustainable. "We have allocated R66 million to His Majesty and R19 million to the trust, the question why are we spending money on the trust that is not functioning," said Mncwango. He added that there were sufficient activities which could be used to market the king and generate money for the household, especially in the area of tourism.

Economic Freedom Fighters MPL Vusi Khoza said there should  be further scrutiny on why the royal household trust failed to function over the past years despite millions of rand being pumped into the structure.

African News Agency (ANA)