Tag Archives: south africa

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

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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It sure feels good to do good! (Saartjie Baartman fundraiser)

I love the buzz of knowing that you are contributing to something good. I have never voluntary taken drugs before, but I am 100% certain that the buzz that is flowing through my veins beats any possible chemical imaginable. I am talking about the 100k in 10 Days challenge, an initiative by my friend Marelise and her sister Amelia. Last week, these two lovely chicks kickstarted this initiative to raise funds for the Saartjie Baartman Centre (SBC). The centre is threatened with closure after the Lotto failed to pay out.

In short: the SBC – situated in Manenberg, an area ravaged by violence, gang warfare, drugs, and poverty – is  the only option for many women and their children to escape the chronic physical, mental, emotional and sexual abuse. It is therefore the only chance to rebuild their lives. It is either that, or sleeping on the streets, or staying with their abusers. That is the horrid truth. When the Lotto failed to pay out, crisis struck. It appeared the centre had to close its doors at the end of May without a significant cash injection.

That is where Marelise and Amelia come in. They are determined to prevent this and aim to raise R100.000 (some 10.000 euro) to push the shelter through for a couple of months, giving it time to come up with an alternative funding strategy.

I have a soft spot for the centre. I sympathise with the women who live there. Like scores of women, I have been victim of abuse by the hand of men too (One ex decided  to smack me in the face when I was 18. Some four years later, the guy I was dating didn’t take no for an answer in a sexual way – after spiking my drink. He also emptied my bank account: In my drugged up state, I apparently told him to draw money.  To top things off, an ex – I call him the Bastard Ex – of some 2 years ago was a stealing, compulsive liar with a double life).

As opposed to the women at the SBC, I had the privilege of having a strong circle of friends and a place of safety (my home) to help me though it.

Enough about my own soap opera and back to Saartjie Baartman.

Marelise and Amelia have managed to raise R30.000 (3000 euro)! Not bad for 3 days (The challenge is only running on week days)! On top of that, the provincial government of the Western Cape has come on board: It has pledged funds to tie the centre over until September.

Last but not least, the ladies have ended up all over the news too, which is awesome! I am very chuffed that my first press release was received so well! A second one has just been issued, and I hope my media colleagues will bite once again. The more publicity, the more donations.

Gosh, who would have thought my experience in PR would contribute to something worthwhile 🙂

 >>> Now go to the 100k in 10 Days Challenge website and donate! 


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Failing our women & two super sisters who are fighting for them

I have some pretty amazing friends, as I mentioned before. Today, I want to push Marelise Van Der Merwe in the spotlights. Why? Because she – together with her sister Amelie – is determined to save the Saartjie Baartman Centre (SBC) in Cape Town from forced closure. How? By raising a R100.000 in ten days – R500 at a time.

What is so special about the SBC? The center – situated in Manenberg, an area ravaged by violence, gang warfare, drugs, and poverty – is very simply the only option for many women and their children to escape the chronic physical, mental, emotional and sexual abuse. It is therefore the only chance to rebuild their lives. It is either that, or sleeping on the streets, or staying with their abusers. It is the horrid truth.

This center is now being threatened with closure after the Lotto has failed to pay out (other NGOs and charities are facing similar circumstances). The organisation’s immediate needs are R100.000 to get through the next couple of months. The money needs to come in before the end of May. No money = closure = 20 to 30 women and their children (all traumatized by the abuse they suffered) will be forced onto the streets or back in abusive households. Simple.

Marelise and Amelie are determined to prevent this from happening and are on a mission to raise R100.000 in the next ten days or so – R500 at a time. How? They need 20 people a day to pledge R50 (47 euro / 59 US dollar). So far, Cape Town’s two newest super heroes seem to be on track (check !!!)

One of the latest people who donated, was my own mother (Marijke Mannak) by the way. She donated R500 (well, the equivalent in euros as she lives in The Netherlands) and knowing her, she is busy spreading the word RIGHT NOW!

How can you help? First of all: spread the word. The more people know about this, the better. Secondly, make a donation. R500 is ideal, more is even better but less is fine too.

The account details are: ABSA / savings / 9156133936. Please use the reference ‘BAARTMAN’ and send proof of payment to Those who prefer to donate straight to the center, use the following details  but please don’t forget to let The Super Sisters know about your pledge so they can track the donations and post updates)

The Saartjie Baartman Centre for Women and Children
First National Bank 201509
Current account 62028179415

I have written a press release about, which can be found here. Please download it, use it, and send in on to everyone you know! Let’s not fail these women!


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Earth Hour 2012 in Cape Town

Yesterday was earth hour, which was a good excuse for me to fiddle around with my camera. Despite the fact the streets lights were on, most people living in apartment blocks in my area did switch off their lights.

As a result, Cape Town was treated to some an awesome starry sky. A couple of pictures later, taken from my balcon, I decided to stitch two of them them together – something I had never done before.

The result is not perfect but I am quite happy with the result. What do you think?

Earth hour 2012 in Cape Town, South Africa.

Earth hour 2012 in Cape Town, South Africa. Table MOuntain, Devil's Peak and the City Bowl. Copyright: Miriam Mannak (ALL RIGHTS RESERVED)


Posted by on April 1, 2012 in Randomness in Pictures, The World of Mir


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My Last Cape-Argus-Cycle-Race-Virgin Days

Me surviving Chapman's Peak drive (trust me, it is steep where I came from!)

NINETY KILOMETERS PEOPLE! That is the distance I cycled yesterday, as part of my Cape Argus Cycle Race training. NINETY KILOMETERS! Over mountains and shit, from Cape Town’s city center all the way to Kommetjie and back – over Chapman’s Peak and through Noordhoek. Excluding four stops – one when Cycle Buddy Illie fell, one for a much-needed caffeine injection, one in Kommetjie, and a final loo break – we did it in 4 hours and 27 minutes. Yay! Click here for the link to our route 🙂

I must say that I am rather proud of myself, but also equally tired. But the legs are fine, and so are the shoulders, back, neck and ass. The only thing that feels a bit ‘funny’ is my left pinky *raises eyebrow*. It feels numb-ish.

Anyway, I think I am ready for the race >>> BRING IT ON!


Posted by on March 5, 2012 in The World of Mir


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Yesterday the African National Congress shoved a big fat middle finger in the face of democracy and all of those who died, bled, cried, fought and suffered for a free country with among other things a free press Look, I am not going to talk much about yesterday. By now pretty much everything has been said about the day that will go down in history as “Black Tuesday”. I have written two blogs about it, which you will find here and here. Here are some pictures though, to show you what went down in Cape Town yesterday. Enjoy. PS: If you for some reason like my pictures and want to use them for something, please don’t be a douche by ripping them off my blog. It would make you a thief as these are my images. So please ask first. 


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The ANC giveth, the ANC taketh it away

I woke up with an uneasy feeling in my stomach this morning. On November 22 1995, South Africa was celebrating the first draft of South Africa’s new constitution. A constitution incorporating rights like media freedom. Sixteen years later, it is Black Tuesday. This afternoon the South African Parliament will cast their votes for the Protection of Information Bill (POIB).

An “all thumbs up verdict” would mean a first step towards the dismantling of the precious democracy so many people fought and died for.

What a way to celebrate such memorable occasion.

The more I think about it, the more angry I get. In the process, a couple of tears have bitten the dust since my alarm clock went off at voetsek o’clock (I tend to do that when angry).

I have not done any work today. I just can’t put my head to it. The thought that these so-called freedom fighters of the ANC intend to bulldozer one of the four pillars of democracy – media freedom and access to information – makes me sick to my stomach.

What did not help, was a story in Beeld. The report stated that MPs will be forced to vote along party lines and that their votes will be checked. In other words, it is not only media freedom that will be given a firm kick in the groin.

The freedom to choose is facing a similar destiny. May I note that this practice is very common in dictatorships like Zimbabwe and ex-dictatorships such as Libya?

“Why should I bother, as I am not a journalist?” you ask. If you by now do not know how the Protection of Information Bill will affect you as a member of society, you must have been hibernating for the past two years.

Read this while you are at it. Steven Friedman sums it up rather well.


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