King Goodwill Zwelithini

PIETERMARITZBURG, SOUTH AFRICA – FEBRUARY 28: King Goodwill Zwelithini during the official opening of the KwaZulu-Natal Legislature at Pietermaritzburg Show grounds on February 28, 2017 in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa. Traditional attire and formal wear was the order of the day as King Goodwill Zwelithini opened the KZN legislature. (Photo by Gallo Images / The Times / Thuli Dlamini)

Goodwill Zwelithini kaBhekuzulu: What makes him a Zulu king and what does he earn?

A look at South Africa’s most controversial monarch.

King Goodwill Zwelithini

PIETERMARITZBURG, SOUTH AFRICA – FEBRUARY 28: King Goodwill Zwelithini during the official opening of the KwaZulu-Natal Legislature at Pietermaritzburg Show grounds on February 28, 2017 in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa. Traditional attire and formal wear was the order of the day as King Goodwill Zwelithini opened the KZN legislature. (Photo by Gallo Images / The Times / Thuli Dlamini)

South Africa has seven recognised monarchies and, heading one of these and perhaps the most recognisable, is King Zwelithini Goodwill kaBhekuzulu, better known as King Goodwill Zwelithini, Chief of AmaZulu.

The king is head of the Zulu nation and is the nation’s longest serving leader, having ben coronated in 1971, three years after his father King Cyprian Bhekuzulu kaSolomon passed away in 1968.

He is of royal lineage, as he is a descendant of King Senzangakhona kaJama, father of the great King Shaka kaSenzangakhona and two other former Zulu kings, Dingane and Mpande.

King Zwelithini descends from Mpande, the youngest of the three who, with the help of Dutch settlers led by Andries Pretorius and was proclaimed king in 1840.

King Mpande was succeeded by his son, Cetshwayo kaMpande, who was followed by Dinizulu kaCetshwayo, who happens to be King Zwelithini’s great-grandfather.

Who is King Goodwill Zwelithini?

King Zwelithini was born on 14 July 1948 in KwaNongoma in KwaZulu-Natal, to King Cyprian Bhekizulu kaSolomon, and second wife, Queen Thomo.

He was educated at the Bekezulu College of Chiefs, and later home schooled.

Following his father’s death in 1968, a regent was appointed to look after the kingdom, as the young prince was deemed not ready to take over the throne as he was still in the process of completing his studies.

He was eventually coronated three years later, on 3 December 1971 kwaNongoma, and would rise into prominence four years later, through clashes with Chief Mangosuthu Buthelezi, who served as CEO of the Zululand Territorial Authority at the time.

Buthelezi accused the king of meddling in politics, and thus enforced a rule which forced him to seek Cabinet approval in order to travel outside kwaNongoma.

Tensions between the two leaders also saw the Zulu king temporarily lose his royal salary, after allegations that he was planning to overthrow the Zululand state through an armed revolution.

His salary was later restored, but he was forbidden from speaking publicly without the approval of the KwaZulu Minister of Justice.

In the early 1980s, he got on the African National Congress’ (ANC) bad books, as he was vocal in his opposition to international sanctions placed against the Apartheid government.

These tensions between him and the ANC continued for the best part of a decade, as his relationship with Buthelezi eased, as the Inkatha Freedom Party leader was central in pressuring the ANC to provide clarity of whether he would remain king, with a change in regime looming.

With him assured of retaining his position as king, this created expectation among other monarchs in the country, leading to amendments in Chapter 11 of the Constitution in order to ensure that traditional leadership contributes to the development of society.

How many wives does King Zwelithini have?

King Zwelithini married his first wife, Queen Sibongile Khumalo in 1969, and they have been married for 49 years and have five children.

Five years later, Queen Buthle MaMathe became his second wife, and they have eight children, including Princess Nandi, who married Chief Mfundo Mtirara of AbaThembu in 2002.

In 1977, he married Queen Mantfombi Dlamini, sister of Swaziland’s King Mswati, and they also have eight kids together, one of which is reportedly earmarked to succeed him.

The king did not marry again until 1988, when he wed Queen Thandekile Ndlovu, before marrying Queen Nompumelelo Mchiza, who was followed by Queen Zola Zelusiwe kaMafu, who he wed in 2014.

How much does King Zwelithini earn?

It’ no secret that the Zulu monarch is living pretty, as much as he, himself does not think so, as he’s bemoaned his salary on a few occasions.

Though King Zwelithini may not believe his salary is fit for a king, he is the highest paid monarch in South Africa.

According to the National House of Traditional Leaders, the country’s seven recognised Kings each pocket more than R1 million monthly.

The KwaZulu-Natal provincial government has recently increased King Zwelithini’s annual budget by 11%, to R65.8 million, from the previous figure of 58.8 million.

However, not the entire amount goes to the King’s personal purse, as the figure mentioned above includes funds allocated to the royal household as a whole, including the trust that was launched over a decade ago in an effort to make the Kingdom self-sustainable and generate its own revenue, not only relying on the government.

The Royal Household Trust

The trust was established by former KZN Premier Sbu Ndebele way back in 2007 with millions of Rands pumped into it for the royal family’s upkeep.

Despite this, King Zwelithini has recently come out to say it has failed, and that he is yet to benefit from it.

“I’m not getting paid from the budget of the Royal Household Trust. Maybe some people think I am getting a salary,” he said during the official opening of the KwaZulu-Natal legislature in March.

The king has often come under heavy criticism for his extravagant lifestyle, which many see as unwarranted at the expense of the taxpayer. During his address, he also saw fit to address this:

“I always worry that no one comes to me to explain how the royal household budget is going to be like, but when monies have been misspent the insults are directed at me and the Zulu royal family,” he continued.

The trust covers various costs for the royal family, including transportation, tuition and medical fees.

Earlier this year, an additional R5 million on top of the house’s annual budget was injected with the aim of kick starting fundraising initiatives to prevent the royal family solely depending on government funding.

It was also announced that the trust would spend R650 000 on a brand makeover for His Majesty, enlisting the help of US-based consulting firm B&C International to handle the rebranding.

 The aim of this is to identify and attract investment opportunities from abroad that will strengthen the royal family’s economic standing.

According to KZN Premier, Willies Mchunu, the trust will be under the microscope and, should it not yield the desired results, it will be reviewed by the provincial government.


The Ingonyama Trust

The Ingonyama Trust controls around three million hectares of land in KwaZulu-Natal, which is almost a third of the land in the province.

It was established through negotiations between the previous government, led by the National Party, and the Zulu traditional leaders, back when Apartheid was in its last legs. this was an effort to secure land ownership, amid uncertainty over the then-incoming democratic government.

This birthed the Ingonyama Trust Act, and for over a decade following its establishment, between 1994 and 2005, the trust did not pay any taxes.

Recently, it’s been the subject of much controversy, following the recently revived debate over land reform, which has seen King Zwelithini almost threatening war in the event that the land under the trust ever come under threat.

This was after a panel chaired by former president, Kgalema Motlhantle found that the Act was unconstitutional and should be repealed.

In the wake of this, the king warned that should the issue surrounding the trust not be resolved before the end of the year, Zulu people could be forced to “take up arms and defend what’s theirs”.

“Land cannot be removed from the traditional leadership,” he said.

“In fact‚ the land is like the soul of the body of traditional leadership. We will never allow‚ not for one day‚ that we be killed by taking our soul.

“Just like Jerusalem is important to Israel and Palestine‚ and just like Mecca is important to the Muslims‚ the land under Ingonyama Trust is also important to us.”

He also called on his subjects, particularly those living under the Ingonyama Trust land, to all donate an amount of at least R5, in order to finance a legal challenge to retain the trust.

“For now‚ I am taking the legal route on this issue with the hope that those who want our land to be taken away follow the law,” he added.

“But following the law is not a sign of cowardice.”

King Zwelithini’s comments were condemned by EFF leader, Julius Malema, as well as Parliament in general with ANC MPs saying they will not be intimidated, also questioning whether the board had the interests of rural people at heart.