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Proposal to withhold Ingonyama Trust funds after trust fails to account for R22m

File picture: Pexels

File picture: Pexels

Published Jun 3, 2020

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Durban - THE Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development portfolio committee has proposed the suspension or withholding of funds allocated to Ingonyama Trust for the 2020/21 financial year.

The trust board, however, told the Daily News yesterday that it would take legal action against whoever violated its rights.

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The committee met last week to finalise the department’s budget.

The proposed suspension or withholding of trust funds for the financial year was due to the trust’s lack of clear programmes to deal with the empowerment of youth, women and people with disabilities in the rural communities.

This was the purpose of the board, which plays a management role of the Trust for the material well-being of traditional communities on Ingonyama Trust land, the committee’s statement said.

Committee chairperson Mandla Mandela said the failure of the trust to account for the R22million allocation was noted and, therefore, the committee supported the suspension of the funds until a review was conducted.

He criticised how the trust was used for the benefit of the Zulu kingdom, while the same was not extended to other kingdoms - as they all played a role in the fight for liberation.

Of concern to the committee was that there had been difficulties in concluding policy and legislation development processes, such as Communal Land Tenure; Preservation and Development of Agricultural Land Bill; White Paper on Land Policy and Comprehensive Producer Development Support Policy.

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“There is a lack of clear legislative programmes with time frames with which the department can be held accountable. This matter requires urgent attention and resolution,” read the statement.

The committee requested the department streamline all farmer support programmes of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development, to ensure resources were not duplicated and that funds went where they were needed most.

“In these difficult times and under the financial constraints the government is experiencing, failure to prioritise such streamlining and budget prioritisation is tantamount to gross dereliction of duty.

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“This will severely impact this critical sector of the economy and the government’s objectives of food security, agricultural reform and transformation,” said Mandela.

Board chairperson Judge Jerome Ngwenya said he had not heard about the committee's decision.

“Nevertheless, as you would appreciate, it is not our practice or policy to engage in a public debate with members of Parliament. We are fully aware of the rights of the trust and we shall invoke appropriate legal remedies when these (rights) are being violated by whomsoever,” Ngwenya said.

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Inkosi Phathisizwe Chiliza, chairperson of the KwaZulu-Natal House of Traditional Leaders, said they had not been addressed by the board about the portfolio committee's decision.

“I can comment once we have been addressed by the board, detailing why the committee reached such a decision.

“Once we are briefed, we also have to wait and hear the king’s take on the matter,” said Inkosi Chiliza.

Daily News

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