DEBATE ON THE BUDGET OF THE DEPARTMENT OF THE ROYAL HOUSEHOLD

 

By The Hon. Mr. Blessed Gwala MPL
 

KwaZulu-Natal Legislature Pietermaritzburg: 8 April 2010

 

Hon Speaker and Hon. Members

 

Much talk has been done about the transformation of the Department of the Royal Household into a Trust which is meant to be self-sufficient. These may be noble intentions. However, we are not certain whether these good intentions will translate into an improvement on what the Department has been able to achieve up to now. This uncertainty emanates from the fact that there has been no indication of an intention to improve what we now have which is the Department. I want to believe that those in charge of the Department right now will move over to the Trust. It is this assumption which makes one uneasy about whether or not there will be any difference when the Trust is in operation.

 

I say this Hon. Speaker because history displays a glaring difference between the pre and post apartheid approaches towards looking after the needs of His Majesty. A comparison of the two periods will reveal that the KwaZulu Government, though a regional administration which did not control billions of Rands in the budget, performed better when it came to taking care of the needs of the Royal Family.             

 

King's Palaces

The King’s Palaces are a case in point. During the period of the KwaZulu Government, there were people employed to look after the Palaces. Consequently, any person could not fail to see when nearing the King’s Palace that they were now approaching Royalty. The atmosphere and the setting would tell that this was the Palace. That it is no longer the case is evident in the King’s Address to this House when he stated:

“Mr. Premier, one of the challenges we are facing is to elevate the King’s Palaces to the level that befits the Royal Household. In that way, government will not be ashamed of showing our palaces to visitors.”

Put otherwise, His Majesty was saying that the Palaces are not up to the standard befitting the King of the Zulu. 

 

I wish to urge therefore that urgent and focused attention must be paid to the palaces as the King suggested. Because, apart from the throne being the focus of the tourism industry in this Province, he epitomizes our identity as South Africans of Zulu origin. The sustenance of the ideals of the African Renaissance is, to an extent, dependent on what we do to keep the throne on a pedestal.

 

I guess every loyal citizen of England is very proud of the Buckingham Palace for it defines who they are. Unfortunately this does not seem to be case with the government, when one sees the conditions of the palaces. A regional administration like the KwaZulu Government was able to maintain the palaces to an extent that you would immediately feel that you were approaching royalty when entering the premises. We expect a democratic provincial government to be able to pay more attention to these issues, so should we be proud of the Monarchy.

 

Again, Hon. Speaker, the issue of palaces that are subjected to rate-payment must be reconsidered as well. Lest some say that it is an IFP-led Municipality that is responsible, I wish to state that the act which brought this situation into existence did not emanate from either the IFP or its Municipality.         

 

King’s Representatives

Another issue which points to the fact that things are no longer as used to be, came out in the same address by His Majesty when he expressed concerns over the fact that he only learns from the media about some developments which concern amaKhosi or which take place in the areas of amaKhosi. The King was saying that there is no effective communication between him and this government, which is his government.

 

As he was expressing this concern, I just wondered if this House still does have the two Hon. Members who were appointed to act as a link between us and His Majesty.  If they still occupy these positions, I would like to know if there are any assignments they have ever been given in terms of their positions or they are just there in name only. I wish to know if government utilizes their positions in matters which relate to iSilo.

 

King’s Portraits

Hon Speaker, the King went on in his address to state:

“The Royal Household is one of the tourist attractions of this country. …I wish to reiterate what I have said to this government, that it would be good to have portraits of the King in public areas such as airports and stadiums. It would be good if those portraits could be displayed prior to the commencement of the 2010 Soccer World Cup, as this soccer spectacle will attract people from countries all over the world. This display will complement the Kingdom of the Zulu logo that people see as they arrive in Durban.”

I fully agree with the King’s assertion that his portraits should don strategic areas of his Kingdom’s public places. And, I would wish to know how the government plans to meet the King’s recommendations.

 

In addition Hon. Speaker I wish to see a situation where we display unambiguously our indebtedness to the Kings of this nation who were outstanding freedom-fighters in their own right. Many public buildings, roads and places have been renamed to honour heroes and heroines of the struggle. The IFP is fully behind the principle of honouring our heroes. However we become concerned when such a serious exercise is left to those who are either ignorant of the long history of the struggle; to those to whom the struggle only began in 1912 and those who are driven by party-political agendas. Or worse still, those who are sensitive to being politically correct such that they want to sweep certain historical events under the carpet.

 

History knows Hon Speaker that Kings Dingane, Cetshwayo, Dinuzulu rank among the outstanding freedom-fighters of the last century. Many other Zulu warriors and heroes don pages of history. But one asks: ‘Is trying to destroy Grosvenor High School make one a more revered freedom-fighter than one of these Kings, for instance? If not, how many public places are named after these Kings and warriors who defended the Zulu Kingdom against the tyranny of colonialism?’ Lest I am misconstrued, I am not at all suggesting that the Grosvenor High School event was not a contribution to the struggle. I am merely citing it as an example against lack of recognition given to those who stood for this Kingdom. 

      

Protection of the King’s Dignity

Hon. Speaker, while contributing to this debate, I cannot afford to turn a blind eye to the developments currently taking place on the south coast of this Province where iNkosi who happens to be a Prince seems to be getting away with murder right under our noses as leaders. It is my understanding that currently there is one iNgonyama in this Province, in the person of the present King of the Zulu nation. Yet time-and-again we read of the antics of one Prince Melizwe Dlamini who claims to be a King already and who tolerates some among his subjects who publicly violate our protocol by addressing him as iSilo and continue to speak disparagingly about Hon. Premier as well.           

 

While I understand that there is no particular law they have broken and that they are using their democratic rights of the freedom of expression, I argue that that they are deliberately infringing Zulu and African etiquette and protocol. In terms of western norms and standards they may be within their rights; but not in our indigenous standards. It is my submission therefore that someone in authority must publicly rebuke those involved in this mischief. More so because a lie told often enough end up recognized as the truth. But, even more so, because minor as these things may seem, they might annoy some people to the point of igniting a conflict. But of importance, the government whose responsibility to ensure that the law is being upheld, must be seen to be unambiguously defending and protecting the only constitutionally-recognized King against such denigration. This leads me also towards urging this House to urge the leadership of the SACP to prevail up their youth wing, the Young Communist League in this Province who have on two occasions now, made pronouncements which in our view might be interpreted as bringing the name of the Monarchy and the Royal Family into disrepute.

 

Conclusion

In conclusion Hon. Speaker let me state that I have made this address in the patriotic spirit of trying to contribute towards a better Province for all.