The KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) government has gifted the wives of the late Zulu monarch, King Goodwill Zwelithini, six brand-new Toyota SUVs.
Premier Sihle Zikalala handed over the vehicles to the queens in Ulundi, in northern KZN on Friday.
The cars form part of an agreement made with the late monarch and the provincial government.
“The KZN premier’s office thought it was important that everything we committed to do under the former monarch –His Majesty King Goodwill Zwelethini, that we fulfil them,” said Zikalala.
Zikalala said the province was careful to adhere to government policy on buying cars for political office bearers.
“You don’t buy a car that costs more than R800,000 . The cars here are below R 800,000.”
Some of the queens were present to receive their cars, including the queen mother. Arrangements have been made to deliver the cars to the absent queens, who were not present due to health reasons.
Palace renovations to continue
The province also wants to continue with ambitious renovation plans for all the royal households.
“We will complete renovations to the palaces and introduce contractors that will do that work,” said Zikalala.
The province has hired seven contractors to work on the royal households.
Renovations at the palaces were halted due to Covid-19, and to allow the royals to undergo a period of mourning after Zwelithini’s death.
Zwelithini was the longest-serving monarch of the Zulu nation. He died in March at the age of 72, after battling a diabetes-related illness.
After nearly half a century on the throne, he left behind six wives and 28 children, some of which have made claims to the throne.
Zikalala also clarified questions around whether the province would continue supporting the royal household after it cut the palace’s budget for events.
“We have committed ourselves to continue supporting the royal house,“ said Zikalala.
“What we withdrew, is not the support for the royal house per se, but we withdrew the budget for events that normally take place. We can’t have events for now because of the ongoing process to appoint the king, which is still sub judice for now,” he said.
The premier also expressed concerns over the prolonged succession battle, saying the matter needed to be settled in the interest of the Zulu nation.
Various factions in the royal family have put forward their candidates to claim the throne shortly after the Queen regent Mantfombi Shiyiwe Dlamini Zulu, who is Zwelithini’s third wife and the sister of Eswatini’s King Mswati III, died.
Who will be the next monarch?
Prince Misuzulu Zulu, who is the eldest son of King Zwelithini and the late regent queen, was initially designated heir to the monarchy.
After the queen regent passed, she named Misuzulu as her successor in her will, which was read out on live TV. It was at this reading that the first rumblings of challenge emerged.
Misuzulu’s brother Thokozani stood up to voice an opinion, when he was shut down on national TV.
While the title of Zulu king does not translate to executive power, Zwelithini commanded support and wielded influence over more than 11 million AmaZulu, which is nearly a fifth of South Africa’s population.