Hire of 4x4s was the result of 'bad administration'

Mhlaba Memela

King Goodwill Zwelithini is very embarrassed that he had to drive to his royal engagements in hired vehicles.

This week the king came under fire for wasting taxpayers' money by hiring luxury 4x4 vehicles to the tune of nearly R1million after his Mercedes- Benz broke down in Swaziland in February. But the blame has been laid squarely on the shoulders of senior KwaZulu-Natal government officials, including Premier Sibusiso Ndebele's office.

Protas Madlala, a political analyst, said Zwelithini is the victim of bad administrators.

"If this happened in the corporate world these people would be fired. Wasting this money on transport destroys the image of the Zulu monarch," he said.

Madlala said it wasn't the first time the king had been in this embarrassing situation.

Three years ago the monarch became a laughing stock when he had no car to drive him to his public duties.

Ndebele, the then transport MEC, came to the rescue and negotiated a deal for the monarch to get a new car.

Madlala said Ndebele's office had failed to be accountable for the king's affairs.

"We have never seen this happen to the monarchy in other countries, including Swaziland and England.

"He is perceived as wasting taxpayers' money. The king has become a political football," he said.

Roger Burrows, DA leader in KwaZulu-Natal, said: "It makes no sense to spend so much money on a leased vehicle while the legislature could have used that money to buy a top-of- the-range car for his majesty. There is a degree of breakdown in communication between the premier and the king," he said.

"The premier is pushing hard to form a trust that will look into the king's affairs but the king does not approve of it."

Inkosi Bonga Mdletshe, a traditional leader and provincial MPL, said IFP leaders had called on the provincial house of traditional affairs to intervene and save the king's image.