Despite the challenges faced by the province as a result of the novel coronavirus, the KwaZulu Natal government still saw it fit to allocate Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini an additional R4.5 million for the royal household's annual budget.
KZN Premier Sihle Zikalala confirmed this increase during his presentation of his province's R800-million budget for the upcoming financial year in the provincial legislature in Pietermaritzburg on Tuesday.
"In 2020/2021, the king support and royal house branch has been allocated R71.3 million," said Zikalala.
According to Dispatch Live, this is an increase from the R66.7 million the province gave the king in the 2019/2020 financial year.
Zikalala justified this increase by stating that the Zulu monarchy was a key institution in a democratic dispensation that is recognised by the provincial government.
He also blasted the DA during his response to the budget vote
The official opposition has previously labelled Royal Household expenditure projections as "extravagant".
The premier highlighted the fact that the allocation for the royal household was not meant for the king as a person but for the upkeep of the entire royal household which constitutes an important heritage for the province and which also plays a critical role in the unity and cohesion.
"In the sixth administration the monarch still plays a crucial role in supporting government programmes and preserving culture," said Zikalala.
"The allocation for the Royal Household Trust is not meant for His Majesty but is meant for the structures responsible for the royal household. The trust was created to fundraise for the royal household. The allocation is also meant for the support of royal household events and functions such as Umkhosi Womhlanga, Umkhosi Woselwa and others. We would, therefore, want to warn our people against denigrating His Majesty by suggesting that the allocation for the royal household is meant for him as the king," he added.
This "against the backdrop difficult economic challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic in the country and a shrinking economy," said the office of the premier in a statement.
Zikalala said despite the Covid-19 crises, all sectors of society in South Africa had pulled together for the "wellbeing of our people and our economy".
"When we delivered the state of the province address on the 4 March 2020, we were already faced with a struggling economy which was shedding jobs and growing at a decreasing rage. But we are still encouraged as a province that some of our fundamentals and job creation efforts were bearing fruit," he said, before adding: "It cannot be business as usual. This is a historic moment that calls on all patriots to be seized with the question of reconstruction and development post-Covid-19."
According to Stats SA, in 2019 KZN saw a net injection of 39,000 jobs into the provincial economy. This was supported by the wholesale and trade sector which created 46,000 jobs, followed by the agricultural sector which created 22,000 jobs. The transport sector created 15,000 jobs.
However, according to the office of the premier, with the emergence of the Covid-19 pandemic, all these sectors have been severely undermined. Estimates predict that no less than a million jobs will be lost directly because of this, exacerbating the crisis of unemployment and raising the threat of social instability.
As a result of Covid-19, the KZN provincial government has had to embark on "unprecedented and unforeseen interventions" due to disrupted budget structures.
"The estimation of GDP contraction in KZN as a direct result of Covid-19 is R26-billion. The national government announced a R500-billion relief package. An amount of R130 billion of this will be funded from within existing government financial resources. The national departments will contribute R100 billion whilst all nine provinces will contribute R3 billion," confirmed the premier.
"We have put all control measures in place to ensure that as we respond to the Covid-19 crisis. We guard against any acts of abuse. We have already acted timeously and are investigating in areas where allegations of wrongdoing have been reported. We will report on these once investigations are concluded."
(Compiled by Kaunda Selisho)
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Citizen reporter – Citizen
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