MKMVA spokesperson Carl Niehaus File picture: Cara Viereckl

Johannesburg - MKMVA spokesperson Carl Niehaus has denied claims that his apology to Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini was on behalf of the ANC. Niehaus was strongly criticised by the ANC’s head of elections Fikile Mbalula after he apologised to the monarch on behalf of the ANC at a land imbizo held in KwaZulu-Natal on Wednesday.

Mbalula warned that people should refrain from speaking on behalf on the ANC, and berated Niehaus for doing so especially because he is an MKMVA spokesperson. Niehaus said, in a statement on Friday morning, that he never claimed to speak on behalf of the ANC when he addressed the gathering on Wednesday, but said he was just clarifying a misconception that the ANC was against the legitimacy of the Ingonyama Trust. 

“I have not claimed to speak with a mandate on behalf of the ANC or MKMVA. Nor did I attack/ criticise the ANC's position concerning the Ingonyama Trust. In fact, I was at pains to clarify that the ANC has not taken any formal position with regards to the Ingonyama Trust, nor on the recommendations of the High-Level Panel on the Assessment of Key Legislation and the acceleration of fundamental change,” said Niehaus.

The former ANC spokesperson said he was motivated to clarify the ANC’s position on the Ingonyama Trust because it was clear from speakers at the imbizo that people believed the ANC was planning to disband the trust. Niehaus insists that the ANC should apologise to Zwelithini for the comments made by former president Kgalema Motlanthe that traditional leaders were “tin pot dictators”.

“As an individual member of the ANC I cannot force comrade Motlanthe, nor comrade Mbalula or the ANC to apologise for the insulting “tin pot dictators” remarks, but I would like to - once again - plead with them and my beloved organisation to do the right thing, and apologise in order to clean up the entirely unnecessary poisonous atmosphere that that these remarks have created, and to clear the air for a process of constructive engagement between the ANC and traditional leaders,” he said.

The issue of the Ingonyama Trust has been thrust into the spotlight in recent weeks as Parliament conducts public hearings on amending section 25 of the Constitution to allow for expropriation of land without compensation.