Zulu King’s palace could cost you R1 billion
South African taxpayers may have to foot a bill as large as R1 billion for a new facility being built for King Goodwill Zwelithini. The Sunday Times reported that the initial cost for the facility was estimated to be R129 million, but that inflated pricing may see this increase around eight-fold. The project has been put on hold by the Department of Arts and Culture, and an auditing firm has been appointed to investigate potential wrongdoing.
News about the high cost of the cultural village at Zwelithini’s palace at Nongoma emerged in 2014, and it was reported that taxpayers would fork out R300 million for the development. At the time, reports stated that the cost of the development could rise to R600 million to cater for the annual reed dance and first fruits festivals. The project involved upgrading the existing pavilion and paved walkways, as well as sleeping areas and ablution facilities for the 30,000 Zulu maidens who attend the reed dance each year.
Spending large amounts of money on the Zulu monarchy in South Africa has become commonplace. In 2015, Zwelithini fulfilled his dream of building a cultural village at Isandlwana – complete with a place for himself – using an estimated R30 million from the national government and the National Lotteries Board. TimesLive reported in April that the Royal Zulu Household would receive R58.8 million in the 2017/18 financial year.
This amounts to Zwelithini being given approximately R550 million by the government over the course of the past 10 years, according to the report.