Zulu king says R1 million salary and R60 million budget is not enough

Zulu king Goodwill Zwelithini has bemoaned the amount of financial backing he gets from the South African government, saying he should be paid more considering his subjects are the ones contributing the most to South Africa.

In line with government salary recommendations, Zwelithini receives an annual salary of over R1.1 million – the amount set aside to pay kings and queens in the country – along with an annual budget of almost R60 million, which comes out of the provincial budget of KwaZulu Natal.

However, this is not enough, the king said at the King Shaka commemoration held in the province over the weekend, claiming poverty.

Zwelithini said that he received no stipend from government, and accused the provincial government of not recognising him, leading to a lack of ‘financial recognition’. He said that the Zulu king deserved more money because Zulus made up the largest part of the country’s demographics and made the biggest contributions to the development of the country.

He also claimed that the South African government was giving away ‘his land’ without consultation, saying that it was effectively stolen from him.

The king’s claims of poverty have been dismissed as fabrication, with previous reports tabled in Parliament showing that he has been given approximately R550 million by  the South African government over the course of the past 10 years.

The money paid to Zwelithini is used to maintain his royal palaces, his lifestyle, his six wives and close to 30 children. Documents show in May 2017 pointed to taxpayers possibly having to cover another R1 billion ‘palace’ for the traditional leader.

Traditional kings and senior leaders are symbolic figureheads in the country with little political power. However, they play an important role in local disputes as well as in playing advisory roles to government – and in the lives of the traditional rural populations.

As of 2010, the South African government recognizes seven royal families in the country, after a recommendation by a traditional leadership commission that South Africa lose six of its kings and queens. Of the 13 recognized traditional kingdoms recognized previously, only seven will remain once the current incumbent rulers of the identified kingdoms have passed away.

Kingdom Region Monarch
AbaThembu Eastern Cape King Buyelekhaya Dalindyebo
AmaXhosa Eastern Cape King Zwelonke Sigcawu
AmaMpondo Eastern Cape King Zanozuko Tyelovuyo Sigcau
AmaZulu KwaZulu-Natal King Goodwill Zwelithini
BaPedi ba Maroteng Limpopo King Thulare Victor Thulare
VhaVenda Limpopo King Toni Mphephu Ramabulana
AmaNdebele Mpumalanga King Makhosoke Enoch Mabhena

These are the current salaries of traditional leaders and other officials as published in a February 2017 government gazette.

Position Salary (Rands)
King/Queen 1 126 057
Chairperson: NHTL 817 842
Full Time Chairperson: PHTL 673 603
Deputy Chairperson: NHTL 625 524
Full Time Deputy Chairperson: PHTL 577 281
Full Time Member: NHTL 356 923
Full Time Member: PHTL 305 959
Senior Traditional Leader 228 650
Headmen/Headwomen 96 460

Read: How much you pay for South Africa’s royal families

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Zulu king says R1 million salary and R60 million budget is not enough