Zulu king Goodwill Zwelithini. File photo: ANA
JOHANNESBURG - Two weeks ago Presidential Cyril Ramaphosa handed over hectares of land to the Mkhwanazi community at Empangeni, KwaZulu-Natal.

The ceremony was a rather subdued affair, compared with Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini kaNyangayezizwe and his highly charged gatherings of fire-spitting amabutho and izinduna whenever the monarch decides to address his subjects on the land issue.

Even the king’s newest besties of AfriForum and Andile Mngxitama and his goons failed to make the list of the KwaMkhwanazi invitees.

It was a dignified affair, with ordinary rural people celebrating the return of their lands following decades of dispossession, first to white soldiers as a reward for their service in the First World War, and later to white farmers who wanted to expand their commercial interests in timber and sugar cane businesses.

This destruction of the black peasant community through subjugation and institutionalised racism is what AfriForum and organisations such as the Transvaal Agricultural Union do not want South Africa to discuss.

They have invested billions of rands in ensuring that a lie is instead told on the painful past of a people.

They have extended the lie to the international community, telling them that the government’s (chaotic) land restitution programme, which now includes expropriation without compensation, is a carefully crafted strategy to hide the genocide of white people in South Africa.

They have used this lie to cleverly shift the attention of the nation from real issues to a belief that only white people in South Africa have the exclusive susceptibility to being killed on the farms.

This by now old white lie has been drummed so many times into the ears of generation after generation of white South Africans that it has all but become the gospel truth.

Just last year, the lie was used by AfriForum to mobilise hundreds of white South Africans to block the country’s main roads with harvesters, tractors, bakkies, trucks and horses with the old apartheid flag proudly hoisted high in remembrance of the good ol’ days when die vierkleur was the symbol of domination and supremacy in the country.

It has been used to hijack an important national issue of farm murders for narrow selfish interests.

AfriForum has used every opportunity and legal avenue to fight against the redress of years of black exclusion from the economy. That is why it is baffling to understand how Zwelithini - a symbol of pride - has found it wise to trust the advice of the very people who have condemned his subjects to perpetual indigence.

The monarch has always been protected from getting involved in active politics and nations have availed their brightest minds to form an advisory wall to ensure that imposters such as AfriForum and Mngxitama do not exploit its benevolence.

It is a deliberate and noble gesture to preserve the respectability of the institution for broader acceptance.

But a lie is always a difficult thing to sustain.

Black South Africa is now too awake to understand the importance of land beyond the rhetoric of the various politicians.

They have come to appreciate the land as a necessary ingredient in the re-engineering of a new social and economic class in South Africa. They know that land is a finite resource that brings with it a lifetime of security and a handsome return on investment.

They see it as a means to live comfortably outside of the mainstream.

With South Africa’s unemployment fast approaching 30percent, the land can be a good option for the youth to explore their entrepreneurial side.

They understand that the emotive nature of the country’s land restitution programme has replaced reason with populism.

It has made characters that would ordinarily stand on the opposite side of the political spectrum come together.

They see this concatenation of the toxic alliance between Zwelithini’s royal entitlement, AfriForum’s fringe lunacy and Mngxitama’s misdirected nationalism as a dangerous cocktail that will one day explode in all of our faces.

They know that it cannot be allowed to blossom.

Former homeland leaders tried it, but they failed.

Apartheid put in billions of rands to sustain it and that also failed.

For them the economic realities have finally made them question the loyalty to old systems.

What they want is something that can bring prosperity to their lives.

That is why it is encouraging to see rural communities beginning to challenge the status quo.

In KwaZulu-Natal, 30 current owners of the farms in Melmoth have refused to be part of Zwelithini’s Ingonyama Trust.

Their argument is that living within the area does not make them incapable of owning their land.

They say that while they recognise the monarch, they are not oblivious to their own material circumstances.

And that wanting to take charge of their own lands does not make them Zulus of a lesser descent.

Even threats of violence have failed to turn them away from their quest for redemption.

They probably know that standing up against traditional authority in KwaZulu-Natal could bring them miseries untold.

But they are steadfast in their belief that any assumption that the Ingonyama Trust can be accountable is as wishful as hoping for taxi drivers to obey the laws that govern the rest of South Africa.

The KwaMkhwanazi, Entembeni, Makhasaneni and Mthonjaneni communities will probably be subjected to intense indignation for choosing a different path.

But their choice will go down in history as the beginning of the rejection of an outdated system that is battling to define itself in a modern democracy.

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