Tensions between the IFP and the ANC in KwaZulu-Natal have escalated to the point where there are now allegations that municipal structures are being armed to carry out political vendettas, and these vendettas extend to the Zulu royal family.
Both sides are seeking support from the family, which represents the helm of a strong traditional leadership structure that influences one-fifth of the South African population.
The latest incident in the spat came earlier this week, in the form of a threat to cut off the water supply to the KwaKhangela Royal Palace.
The IFP-led Zululand Municipality had claimed that the palace’s R1.7 million water bill had not been paid by the ANC-led Prime Minister’s Office, which is responsible for paying the royal bills.
Zululand mayor Thulasizwe Buthelezi then threatened to cut off the water supply to the Royal Palace of KwaKhangela.
“It is very strange that the Prime Minister’s office has paid the water bill for all other palaces except KwaKhangela Palace. It is clear that the prime minister wants to embarrass the king and his household by forcing the municipality to cut off the water supply for unpaid services,” Buthelezi said.
But the office of KZN Prime Minister Sihle Zikalala disputed the amount and the Zululand Municipality has since apparently moved back from its original statement.
Zikalala’s office reprimanded the Zululand mayor, accusing Buthelezi of acting unilaterally.
He says the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) of Zululand Municipality submitted a revised statement of accounts on Friday.
The new statement shows that more than R400,000 have been withdrawn from the original account.
“The mayor’s actions were little more than choreographed theatrical performances decorated to make headlines and challenge the KwaKhangele Palace’s reputation,” Zikalala said.
“It is clear from the statements that Mayor Buthelezi’s accusations were worded from the depths of ignorance and were a decorated lie of his colorful imagination.
“We deeply regret the reputational damage and pain that Mayor Buthelezi has inflicted on the Royal Family as a whole, which we understand as a well-made Thulasizwe Buthelezi gate scandal, designed to imprison the Royal Family and forcibly arm them to succumb to his control. We are justified that Mayor Buthelezi’s jokes have been exposed by what they are.”
The provincial government said it was alarmed to see the palace’s monthly water bill of more than R81 000.
It said the amount was more in line with a multinational factory and the charges were billed without meter readings.
“As the provincial government, we will do everything we can to prevent the royal family from being used as a cover by people like Thulasizwe Buthelezi and his ilk to disguise their dirty political tactics.”