King Goodwill Zwelithini (and Wives): Big, Big Spenders

05 Sep

King Goodwill Zwelithini is not the happiest of campers these days. Well, technically you can’t call the 60-something-year-old Zulu Monarch a camper. He owns some five or six palaces after all, of which four are situated in Nongoma, as well as various lavish houses and farms – and of course a fleet of luxury cars.

The King has nevertheless a knot in his leopard print knickers: his child bride sixth and youngest wife needs a home of her own. The latest addition to his household (who was allegedly 14 years old when she accompanied GZ – who is 41 years her senior – to the opening of the legislature some time ago) is living with Zwelithini’s eldest wife. With their two children of course.


In order to build Queen Zola KaMafu, a Swazi beauty queen, a brand spanking new palace, King Goodwill Zwelithini has asked for an extra R5 million (as well as R12 million for a new house at the Nyonkeni Palace) to be added to his budget. Apparently the 2012/2013 allowance of R59.5 million (which includes a R4 million increase compared to the previous year) is not good enough.

Poor King.

How can one afford a new palace if the budget only caters for support services such as car maintenance, clothes for the queens, an annual salary of some R1.5 million and his kids’ school fees (R35.278 million); the refurbishment and renovation of palaces (R20.484 million); and the maintenance of the various Royal farms (R3.6 million)?

Personally, I have always wondered how the Zulu Royal Household budgets were spent over the past years. No, I am not particularly interested in knowing how the money was supposed to be spent. I want to know how the cash was actually spent.

Same, same – but different.

That is why I have spent today dodging my mountain of deadlines and my lovely editors (sorry guys – I am all yours as from tomorrow) in an attempt to find some answers to my questions.

That was easier said than done, to be honest. Readily available official figures seem to be non-existent. The only figures I could find were the stats published in various media reports.

This kinda puzzles me.

Assuming that taxpayers, wether only residents of KZN or the entire country, foot the Royal Budget, they surely should be able to find out  how their cash is/was spent? Anyway, about the figures I did manage to find:

  • The 2007/2008 financial Royal Budget amounted to R36 million – which was overspent by R3-million.
  • For the subsequent (2008/2009) financial year, the Royal Household Department received R39.356 million – an increase of R3.3 million from the previous year. Some R593k went to emergency repairs to the king’s five palaces, R229k was spent on Royal travel and accommodation, R165k on consultants, and R15k on a coming-of-age ceremony. The 2008/2009 Budget was again overspent, this time by  by R8.4m (this equals to some 25% of the total budget, people!
  • Despite the over-expenditures of 2008/2009), R40.643 million was given to South Africa’s Royal Affairs for 2009/2010. Whilst presenting the budget, KZN Premier Zweli Mkhize stressed the Department of the Royal Household would not overspend this time. The budget was eventually overrun by R2.7 million.
  • The 2010/2011 Budget for Goodwill Zwelithini’s upkeep was set at R43.8 million (of which he had apparently had to pay back R3 million due to the previous year’s overspending). I could not find figures on overspending.
  • The 2011/2012 Royal Budget, a whooping R55 million, was over-run by R4.451 million.
  • The above brings the total overspent amount between 2007 and 2012 to about R18 million. Forgive me if I am wrong.
  • In 2006, Goodwill Zwelithini’s exchanged his household’s fleet of Toyota Corollas for six new Mercedes-Benz E200 Kompressor cars (for himself and his Queens). Price tag: R2.3m. This would not have been a massive problem if the 2005/2006 and 2006/2007 budgets had not been overspent by respectively R2.5 million and R3.5 million.
  • In 2006, apart from the luxury cars mentioned above, King Goodwill Zwelithini bought himself a lavish Hillcrest home worth R2.5 million. The villa had to serve as his pied a terre in Durban to save on hotel and transport costs. In 2005, the king apparently spent R500k in one single month on travel and accommodation for himself and his entourage. The purchase would not have been a problem if the 2005/2006 and 2006/2007 budgets had not been overspent by respectively R2.5 million and R3.5 million. However, the main objection of the villa – which was supposed to save money – is that it has never used.
  • In 2000, “over half a million rand” was spent on the King’s 52nd birthday, a bash that took place in New Castle. Exact figures around the costs were not released due to “confidentiality”.
  • In August 2011, Goodwill Zwelithini celebrated his 40th year reign over his kingdom. Thousands of high-profile guests attended the main party, which took place at the KwaKhethomthandayo Palace, Nongoma. The entire celebration lasted an entire month. Price tag: ± R600.000.

I am sure that there is more information out there on the King’s budgets and spending habits (please share if you have some more details). I did not have to time to dig for much longer. It is 6.18pm as we speak and I have various editors breathing down my neck 🙂

Based on the above, and if those stats are indeed all correct (again, there are no official stats available it seems. Please prove me wrong!) I sincerely hope that the government does not bow. South Africa has about a 1001 causes that deserve immediate attention and money. Rape Crisis for instance. South Africa’s oldest centre for rape counseling is on the verge of closing down – despite the massive sexual violence problem in the country.

Before you accuse me of being a racist imperialist European who is anti-tradition, anti-Zulu, anti-whatever: Hold your horses, ya’ll! I have NOTHING against the Zulu Royal Family. Nothing at all. Give them money, by all means. But don’t give them lavish increases every time they exceed their lavish budget. And don’t give them more money they already have.

It is a fact that the members of the Royal family have never had access to this much money, EVER – for a title they didn’t have to do much. It is a fact that the 2012/2013 Budget is almost double from what it was five years ago. Yes, it is a fact that living costs have gone up (Read my ‘Worries of a Freelance Journo‘ post), but not that much!

People , we are already spending mountains on our President & Family after all. According to Gareth van Onselen, writer of ‘The Billion Rand President: How much Jacob Zuma costs the taxpayer’, Jacob Zuma, his four wives and two dozen children are costing the state (us!) some some R102.8m per year (or R514.1m over one five year-term).

Personally, I think the Royal Family would do well to hire a budgeting expert (on their account, of course). Perhaps this professional could convince / teach the older Queens to skimp on their wardrobe allowance (Apparently they like designer clothes) so that their youngest co-wife can eventually have a pad of her own.


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4 responses to “King Goodwill Zwelithini (and Wives): Big, Big Spenders

  1. Jimmy Whatmore

    September 5, 2012 at 7:27 pm

    It would be interesting to research the public spending of the other royal families in ratio to our country (taking into account that zulus are one of many cultures in RSA) from, say, The Netherlands, Denmark and the UK, and compare findings to the Good Old King’s. Nice blog!

    • Miriam Mannak

      September 5, 2012 at 7:59 pm

      You have a point. I however think that the big difference is that Royal Families in eg The Netherlands / UK are not a local phenomenon and have a national semi-governing role. Their spendings are also audited and made public. The Zulu Royal family only has power in and over a small part of the country – yet the money comes from tax payers elsewhere in the country. But I will definitely look into it. Thanks for the tip!

  2. MLH

    September 5, 2012 at 9:11 pm

    I think the Zulu king is paid from provincial government funds, not national funds. Provincial funds are allocated according to the number of people in the province.
    The farm maintenance is interesting. If they are working farms, they should be making profits of their own…milk could be sold, beasts sold, etc. He could even be earning stud fees. I can’t believe the royal entourage can clean out six farms over three meals a day. And if they are not in profit, it proves only that funding is not what the average black farmer needs to make his redistributed farm work.

    • Miriam Mannak

      September 5, 2012 at 9:29 pm

      Whether it comes from province or national – in the end of the day it is tax payers money, I think? I agree regarding the farms. I would be interesting to see if those farms are productive in the sense of profit – and where that money goes to.


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