Taxpayers have reportedly forked out almost R3 million on private flights for Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini to attend social and official engagements – despite the monarch blowing his annual budget and receiving a bailout earlier this year.
This included a R350 000 flight to Swaziland to attend a function hosted by King Mswati, the Sunday Times reported.
Zwelithini reportedly used a private charter 13 times between June 29, 2013 and August 29 last year.
Details contained in the 2013/14 and 2014/15 financial reports showed that the king:
– Flew from Ulundi to Durban on May 9, 2014 to meet Recycling and Economic Development Institute of SA CEO Hermann Erdmann and then to Cape Town to have dinner with Erdmann less than a month later. The flights cost R517 000
– He took private charters from Ulundi to Swaziland four times between March 20 and August 29, 2014 for different functions costing a total of R1.12m
– He spent R212 800 to fly to Johannesburg for President Jacob Zuma’s inauguration last year and spent R238 843 to attend KwaZulu-Natal Premier Senzo Mchunu’s inauguration.
– He paid almost R28 000 to fly from Ulundi to Sangoyana in Empangeni, which was only a 115km drive, to attend the unveiling of a statue.
Mchunu’s spokesperson Thamsanqa Ngwenya confirmed the trips to the Sunday Times.
Zwelithini’s 13 fights – 12 of them from Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi Airport in Ulundi – cost R2.82m.
The airport is just a few kilometres from the king’s royal residence which was recently upgraded to the tune of R30m.
The information of Zwelithini’s flights surfaced when the DA wrote to the premier questioning the king’s use of private charters in the past two financial years.
Last December, it was reported that the Zulu monarch asked government for a R10 million bailout for his bankrupt Royal Household Trust after blowing his R54 million budget in 2014. Insiders blamed the king’s reckless spending for the crisis.
He was reportedly too broke to even buy groceries, but according to reports had spent nearly R4 million on a two-day traditional wedding to his sixth wife last July, R10 000 for a birthday cake and R120 000 on crockery and cutlery.
The Sunday Tribune reported he had received a R5 million bailout from the provincial government in February.
Documents last year showed that R2.5 million was allocated for the king’s travelling expenses, while R10.3 million was allocated for his palaces and R2.2 million for his six wives.
In May, the Sunday Tribune reported that the Zulu monarchy was buying six new Mercedes Benz E-Class sedans, collectively worth nearly R5 million, for the king’s six wives, while another was to be kept as a “back-up”.