Zulu king wants his Disney-type park so much, he's opening his palaces
I'm doing it for my people, says Zwelithini as he celebrates his 70th birthday with lavish bash
Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini is opening up his palaces as tourists attractions, like the Buckingham Palace in London, to raise funds for nine new development projects including a Disney-styled cultural theme park.
The monarch announced the investment project at eNyokeni palace where a lavish birthday celebration attended by hundreds of guests, including Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Zweli Mkhize, ACDP leader Kenneth Meshoe and mining mogul Patrice Motsepe, was held on Friday.
The project is in line with the KwaZulu-Natal government’s plan, mooted more than a decade ago, to use the Zulu monarch as a tourist attraction to raise money to maintain his lavish lifestyle. This did not materialise.
The idea was to promote Zulu royalty and turn the palaces into a tourist paradise where people could have an audience with the king.In Britain, thousands of tourists flock to Buckingham Palace every year as guests to banquets, lunches, dinners, receptions and royal garden parties, all of which generate thousands of pounds in revenue for the royal household.
Zwelithini said it was a shame that the provincial government had failed to fulfill this dream.
“Today I open all the gates of my palaces [Ondini, kwaLinduzulu, eNyokeni, oSuthu, kwaDlamahlahla, kwaKhangela and kwaKhetha]. While I know they were open to Zulu people for cultural heritage purposes since time immemorial, today I open them to address some of the economic imperatives in our country, particularly for the rural political economy.”
The projects include:
• Queen Mthaniya Royal Museum at Nkonyeni Palace;
• King Zwelethini Children Academy at Ondini Palace;
• King Solomon Interdenominational Dome at KwaDlamahlala Palace;
• King Bhekuzulu Royal College at Kwa Khangela Palace;
• King Shaka Theme Park at KwaKhetha Palace
• Isandlwana Heritage Precinct;
• Bayede High Performance Centre at Linduzulu Palace;
• Bayede Maize Production Farming Project and Mobile Agricultural Development Unit; and
• Kings Investment Projects.
The King Shaka Theme Park, based on a Disney amusement park with a Zulu theme, will be built on eight hectares in the mountains of Osuthu next to the Umfolozi River.
It will include a cultural village, hotels, vacation club properties, a retail, dining and entertainment complex, a sports complex, conference centres, campgrounds, golf courses, water parks and a shopping mall.
Zwelithini, the longest-serving Zulu monarch and most pampered among South Africa’s kings, described this as “the biggest investment project that will channel the economic dynamics of the Zulu kingdom”.“While I am supposed to be pampered with gifts and praises as I celebrate 70 years, I’ve elected to launch initiatives that will not only enhance my people economically but will also play a pivotal role in economic and social cohesion,” said the king.
Zwelithini, who has courted controversy for his lavish lifestyle, has come under the spotlight over an unfinished reed dance venue that has been plagued by cost overruns that could end up at R1-billion.
During a gala dinner later at the kwaLinduzulu Palace to celebrate his 70th birthday, the king’s guests were treated to starters of chicken breasts stuffed with spinach, a main course of butter chicken curry, oven-roasted lamb infused with garlic and rosemary, slow-cooked oxtail with veggies, braised chicken feet, plain white rice, basmati rice, traditional samp, homemade steamed bread, amadumbe, sweet potatoes, fresh mealies and steamed butternut.
They also tucked into caramelised and sliced beetroot salad with sweet and sour sauce, potato salad and crunchy garden salad with feta and olives.
Dessert included Château Gâteaux cakes, homemade malva pudding, creamy custard sauce, ice cream and seasonal fresh fruit skewers drizzled with ginger sauce.