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How to live like a king: How much you've spent on King Goodwill Zwelithini

By Matthew Savides | 2017-04-19 16:31:20.0

Whether you’re one of Zulu king Goodwill Zwelithini’s loyal subjects‚ or even believe that the monarchy should not exist‚ it doesn’t matter — you’ve still contributed towards the about R550-million given to him and his household in the last decade.

KwaZulu-Natal premier Willies Mchunu on Tuesday announced that Zwelithini will receive R58.9m in the 2017/18 financial year‚ a marked increase from the R48.8m he was given the year before. Even the rural ANC in the province was unhappy with the performance of the Royal Household Trust‚ the body which handles the king’s finances.

“We have not seen returns for the money that has been invested by the province‚” ANC MPL Sipho Gcabashe said during a debate following the tabling of the budget.

Exactly how much money‚ that is staggering.

In the 2007/08 year‚ Zwelithini was allocated just under R36.5m. But this — which works out to R3m a month — would be the lowest annual allocation given to him for a decade.

His budget shot up by about R3m to R39.4m the following year‚ and then to about R40m for the next two financial years. By the 2011/12 financial year‚ the amount jumped up R15m to R55m — and then continued to climb. For 2012/13‚ the budget was R59.6m and then R63.3m for the 2013/14 year.

In an attempt to reign in the finances‚ the budget was clipped to R54.2m for the 2014/15‚ and then climbed again to just over R56.5m for the 2015/16 year. There was then another attempt to clip the monarch’s wings‚ with his budget being reduced to R48.8m for the 2016/17 year — before it again climbed‚ this time by more than R10m to the R58.9m figure announced by Mchunu on Tuesday.

The money is used to maintain Zwelithini’s royal palaces‚ fund his six wives and close to 30 children‚ and also his various farms. But the spending hasn’t been without controversy.

The Sunday Times reported in December 2015 that the king spent R3m on private flights over the previous two financial years‚ including a R350‚000 private charter to Swaziland to attend a function hosted by King Mswati and nearly R28‚000 to fly from Ulundi to Empangeni — a drive of just 115km — to attend the unveiling of a statue.

Zwelithini has previously spent big on other luxuries and extravagances‚ including forking out nearly R4m for his two-day wedding to 28-year-old Swaziland national Zola Mafu in July 2014. Earlier that year‚ in February‚ he wanted to buy imported military regalia for R2.8-million for himself and his wives‚ princes and princesses to wear to the opening of the KwaZulu-Natal legislature in June‚ which he was to address.

While his finances are normally a closely-guarded secret‚ documents shown to the Sunday Times in December 2014 showed that Zwelithini was allocated R10.3-million for his palaces‚ R2.2-million in stipends for his six wives (made up of a tax-free R31‚000 monthly stipend‚ R6‚500 for groceries‚ a R4‚550 medical aid allowance and a R2‚400 cellphone allowance)‚ R2.5m for travelling expenses‚ and R915‚248 for education (this for the tuition and boarding for five of the king’s children‚ who attend top private schools‚ and a grandson at Kearsney College in Botha’s Hill‚ KwaZulu-Natal).

Zwelithini’s spokesman‚ Prince Thulani Zulu‚ referred all comment to the Royal Household Trust — which did not respond to requests for comment by Wednesday afternoon.