Ap­ply brakes, Zulu chauf­feurs beg king

Chauf­feurs com­plain that they have to sleep in their cars

Sunday Times - - Front Page - By BON­GANI MTHETHWA

Zulu royal house­hold em­ploy­ees as­signed to trans­port King Good­will Zwelithini’s six wives say they are be­ing driven around the bend by the queens.

Driv­ers say they are tired of be­ing at the queens’ beck and call at odd hours, be­ing made to ac­com­pany them on shop­ping trips and some­times be­ing forced to sleep in the car be­cause ac­com­mo­da­tion had not been booked for them.

Five driv­ers are as­signed to King Zwelithini’s wives, Queen Si­bongile MaDlamini, Queen Buhle MaMathe, Queen Mant­fombi Dlamini, Queen Thandikela Ndlovu, Queen Nom­pumelelo Mchiza and Queen Zola Zelusiwe Mafu.

They lodged a grievance in Fe­bru­ary with the of­fice of KwaZulu-Natal pre­mier Wil­lies Mchunu.

The driv­ers com­plained about not be­ing pro­moted af­ter work­ing for the Zulu roy­als for years, their sub­sis­tence and travel claims not be­ing paid im­me­di­ately, and al­lowances not be­ing rea­son­ably ad­justed.

They also took the is­sue to the gen­eral pub­lic ser­vice sec­tor bar­gain­ing coun­cil, which has de­clared a dis­pute with the pre­mier’s of­fice.

The driv­ers claim they are some­times called in at awk­ward hours to take the queens on trips to Johannesburg, Durban, Pi­eter­mar­itzburg or Em­pan­geni for ap­point­ments that in­clude so­cial ap­pear­ances, meet­ings, med­i­cal vis­its, beauty treat­ments and shop­ping.

“You can’t say ‘I will knock off at this par­tic­u­lar time.’ Some driv­ers have been re­called from leave and they are afraid to speak against the queens,” said one of the driv­ers.

The royal house­hold trust was es­tab­lished by the KwaZulu-Natal pro­vin­cial govern­ment to make the Zulu monarch and royal fam­ily less of a tax bur­den. It was meant to re­place the royal house­hold depart­ment but both en­ti­ties now op­er­ate par­al­lel to one an­other.

King Zwelithini com­plained ear­lier this year that too many staff had been ab­sorbed by the trust af­ter the dis­so­lu­tion of the royal house­hold depart­ment and that he did not know what they were do­ing.

Mchunu’s spokesper­son, Ce­cil Msomi, said a meet­ing was held with the ag­grieved driv­ers who were ad­vised of the depart­ment of pub­lic ser­vice and ad­min­is­tra­tion’s guide­lines for driv­ers.

He said he couldn’t com­ment about the frus­tra­tions re­lat­ing to the queens and said the salary scale was rec­om­mended by the for­mer royal house­hold depart­ment.

He said that af­ter ini­tial con­tacts, “the driv­ers re­fused to speak to our of­fi­cials and in­di­cated that the mat­ter is with their union”.

“Labour re­la­tions sub­se­quently re­ceived a re­fer­ral to the gen­eral pub­lic ser­vice sec­tor bar­gain­ing coun­cil, declar­ing a dis­pute which is now un­fold­ing,” said Msomi.

Pic­tures: Jackie Clausen

King Zwelithini’s first wife, Queen Si­bongile Dlamini, left, is one of six queens in his house­hold.

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