April 26, 2005

KwaZulu-Natal: Ndebele announces changes

KwaZulu-Natal Premier Sibusisu Ndebele has announced changes in the handling of royal affairs, including shutting down the Royal Household department, saying it was "ineffective and costly". Delivering the R27.6 million budget of the Royal Household Department in the legislature, Ndebele stated that the establishment of this department had contributed to creating a huge bureaucracy that consumed most of the budget but did not contribute directly to supporting the key role of the Zulu monarch, King Goodwill Zwelithini.
In 2004, Ndebele ordered a review of the administration of the royal affairs. "The major portion of the department's expenditure, 65 percent of the total budget, does not directly provide for the Royal Household but goes towards personnel expenditure for the 189 employees and associated administrative costs," he said. According to Ndebele, those administrative costs included, for example, 44 administrative posts, 82 posts for domestic workers at nine palaces - some of whom were supposed to be retrenched in 1999.
He said the king's palaces were also not in a condition befitting royalty despite repeated requests for repairs on the palaces to be done. "His majesty's farms have effectively ceased operations, with 19 out of 32 farm workers having no duties to perform," he said.
Ndebele also noted that the work had already begun to implement recommendations with a bill, titled "The KwaZulu-Natal Royal Household Trust Bill" having been drafted.
"The bill envisages a trust that is administered for the benefit of the monarch and other members of the Royal Household, including material welfare, educational needs and aspirations and social well-being benefiting their status and is managed to provide for the maintenance and upkeep of the property of the Royal Household," he said.
He said that some key features of a Statutory Royal Trust should ensure that the structure was not top heavy with administration and the costs of running the entity kept to an acceptable minimum. This new entity, Ndebele concluded, should receive an appropriate grant in aid from the provincial fiscus, similar to the "civil list" procedure used in the United Kingdom and should have a capacity to trade and acquire funding from the government and other sources. However, Ndebele said the strategic plan of the new entity would be drafted after consultation with the king. (Bua News, Pretoria)

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