Swaziland's King Mswati III. File picture: Siphiwe Sibeko

Johannesburg - Taxpayers will fork out R300 million for a cultural village at King Goodwill Zwelithini's palace at Nongoma, in northern KwaZulu-Natal, the Sunday Times reported.

The cost of the development, to cater for the annual reed dance and first fruits festivals, could rise to R600m.

It would involve upgrading the existing pavilion and paved walk ways, as well as sleeping areas and ablution facilities for the 30,000 Zulu maidens who attend the reed dance each year.

Culture department spokesman Mogomotsi Mogodiri said: “It should be noted that the development and infrastructure is not only for the king, but the Zulu nation as a whole.”

According to the report, the reed dance was an ancient practice that was largely ignored by previous Zulu kings but was revived by Zwelithini in 1984.

The first fruits festival involves around 40 Zulu warriors killing a bull with their bare hands, The Witness reported previously. It is believed that the strength of the bull is transferred to the king and his subjects when the warriors salute the king. - Sapa