Zulu coronation: Where and how Zulu king’s R66m budget is spent

King Misuzulu KaZwelithini. Picture: Tumi Pakkies/African News Agency(ANA)

King Misuzulu KaZwelithini. Picture: Tumi Pakkies/African News Agency(ANA)

Published Oct 28, 2022


Durban - The Zulu monarch comes under fire whenever the KwaZulu-Natal government announces its hefty budget.

Some critics, which include other kings in the country, claim that the Zulu king is getting more than others in South Africa.

They also claim that there is preferential treatment as the Zulu King is chauffeured in top-of-the-range SUVs and guarded like a sitting president.

Going back in history, the Zulu monarch always had a special budget, even during the dark days of the bantustan governments.

The then-KwaZulu bantustan, which was led by Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi, had an allocation for the Zulu monarchy.

The practice was carried over to the democratic era, when the IFP government of the time established a stand-alone department of the royal household.

However, when the ANC ousted the IFP in the 2004 elections, it phased out the department and moved royal affairs to the Office of the Premier, as a directorate.

The Office of the Premier in KwaZulu-Natal allocates and controls the budget. In the past, the royal household was allocated R66 million.

The amount was cut by R5m after the government was forced to cut back on spending following the Covid-19 devastation.

Part of the money was then frozen, with the former premier, Sihle Zikalala, saying that because of the heated dispute over the throne, only certain payments (life staff salaries) would be made.

The money for cultural events was withheld until March this year, when the national Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) instructed the office to release it.

This was after the certificate of recognition was released when King Misuzulu won a crucial court battle that cleared his path to the throne.

On Thursday, IOL spoke to the spokesperson of the Office of the Premier, Lennox Mabaso, who explained how the money was spent.

He said the R66m did not got straight into the king’s pockets but was, instead, used to pay the monarchy’s expenses.

“The budget covers Zulu cultural activities and other programmes of the king and the royal household that have to do with social cohesion and nation building.

“It is not like the money is sent to the king to see what he can do about it. No, that is not the case. The money covers several expenses in the institution of the royal household.”

Mabaso added that some of the money went to vehicle repairs, maintenance of the six palaces, the salaries of support staff and general consumables, among other things.

“Remember that the royal household is an institution, not an individual.”

Some of the people who receive monthly salaries for their royal duties include the king’s aide, Prince Thulani Zulu, and praise singer, Inyosi Buzetsheni Mdletshe.

Although Mabaso refused to divulge further information, which he said was private, IOL can reveal that some of the money goes to the queens’ allowances when carrying out their royal duties, school fees for royal children, food and general maintenance of the six palaces scattered throughout Nongoma and Ulundi in northern KwaZulu-Natal.

It also pays for the sitting king’s salary.

The Zulu king’s salary was not known until 2018, when the late King Goodwill Zwelithini, who was annoyed by the government’s attempt to snatch all land belonging to the Ingonyama Trust, threatened that if they went ahead, the Zulu kingdom might consider breaking away from the Republic of South Africa.

In one of the recorded speeches in that regard, the king revealed that he was earning R27 000 and he called it peanuts.

“They can take the R27 000 they give to me as a salary, I don’t care. And that’s too little for a prominent king like me,” the king had said in Zulu.

It appears that the salaries were later hiked, according to salary figures contained in a March 4, 2022 reply by Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, to Dr Pieter Groenewald of the Freedom Front Plus. It was revealed that kings was paid R1.2m a year.

This translates to more than R100 000 a month before tax and other deductions like pension fund contributions.

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