King Goodwill Zwelithini is the chairman of the trust, which owns traditional land and the major townships of Umlazi, KwaMashu and Inanda. File photo: S'bonelo Ngcobo

Durban - Feisty ANC MPL Belinda Scott, the chairwoman of the KZN legislature’s finance portfolio committee, caused a row among committee members on Thursday when she questioned the donation of wild animals, including two baboons, to King Goodwill Zwelithini by KZN Ezemvelo Wildlife.

Chairing a joint sitting of the standing committee on public accounts and finance portfolio committee in the legislature in Pietermaritzburg on Thursday, a defiant Scott wanted to know why Ezemvelo donated animals to the king who had his own budget.

This was despite several attempts by committee members to warn her about the “sensitivity” of the matter and the likelihood of media interest in a matter involving the king. However, she persisted with her questions.

“Close to R400 000 worth of animals were donated to the king.

“Was this subjected to taxation? It should have been taxed,” said a defiant Scott.

Fellow ANC MPL Siboniso Duma warned Scott about being quoted out of context in this matter, pointing out again that the media were present.

“For me, some of these things are better said in-camera,” warned Duma.

Some IFP MPLs were heard muttering that they wanted to distance themselves from the comments made by Scott.

Blessed Gwala, leader of the IFP in the legislature, warned about dragging the king’s name into the matter.

“When you mention the name of the king, it is very sensitive and people might think you are saying these animals were donated to his majesty as an individual, but it is for the communities. We do not want to hear outside this meeting that the name of the king was dragged into this issue,” said Gwala.

A list of animals donated to the king and tabled by Ezemvelo chief executive Bandile Mkhize indicated the Zulu monarch was given eight buffalo, two baboons, two giraffe, two grey duiker and five hippo. The donations were made from 2009 until recently.

A visibly angry Mkhize urged Scott to put herself in the shoes of Ezemvelo with regard to the requests for donations of animals from the king.

“If these issues that pertain to the king have to be taken up then I do not think we are the relevant people to take them up with.

“I suggest the legislature must take it up with the king because when the king requests a baboon and we have a baboon available, we will definitely give the baboon to the king,” Mkhize said.

“Unless this House says to us please stop giving these animals to the king, we will go to the king and say the legislature told us not to give these animals because of ABC.

“From where we are, we believe we have nurtured a good working relationship with the king. He has spoken out on the issue of rhino poaching and has been a good ambassador for us.

“So I do not see a situation where the king of a nation would just go out there and say I want all these animals for myself. That is not the case. It is for the benefit of the communities,” said Mkhize.

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The Mercury