Durban - King Goodwill Zwelithini will not be “deterred or rushed” as he prepares to lodge South Africa’s biggest land claim.
While addressing the opening of the KZN Provincial House of Traditional Leaders in Ulundi at the weekend, he hit back at those who opposed his plans.
“I have no doubt the land we want belonged to our forefathers and we can only hope that those who are against our land claim are not influenced by people whose forefathers weren’t born in this country,” he told the chiefs.
The Mercury reported on Thursday that land near Ulundi where he has started building his new (and eighth) palace was already under claim.
The king responded: “They better produce evidence the land belongs to them.”
Two families from Emakhosini, near Ulundi, said the site was on their forefathers’ land and they had lodged claims with the provincial Land Commission in the first round of claims - before 1998.
The claimants are being assisted by UCT’s Centre for Law and Society which held a workshop with other stakeholders and academics in Pietermaritzburg last week to discuss the king’s claim and the threat it posed to other claims.
But Zwelithini was undeterred: “They might think it’s for their benefit when it’s possibly one of the colonisers’ seed rearing its head to divide the Zulu people.”
He cautioned his chiefs against being angered by allegations, calling the reports “one of their many ways to try and distract us from our goal”.
“I’m warning you (chiefs), they will carry on talking. Let them. We just need to be patient until everything is in place for us to lodge our claim.”
The king said they were planning to develop all the land claimed, including rural areas. None of it would be sold to banks or investors but “will be leased to those who want to use it for work purposes, either farming or industrial development”.
The plan is to divide the land according to use including residential, farming, grazing and industrial areas.
The king’s claim for all the land in KwaZulu-Natal and some in other provinces that was in Zulu hands in 1838 is being co-ordinated by the Ingonyama Trust which he chairs. Even though the current cut-off date for claims is 1913, the trust could still get a hefty part of KZN and other provinces if the claim is successful.
The Trust’s chairman, Judge Jerome Ngwenya, said all of KZN was once the Zulu kingdom, so the trust would be claiming everything. Already the trust owns almost 3 million hectares in the province.