Ingonyama Trust Board leadership impasse resolved, former Judge Jerome Ngwenya stays on as chairperson

Published Apr 29, 2023


Durban - The almost three-week long leadership impasse in the Ingonyama Trust Board has been resolved after the nomination of Inkosi Thanduyise Mzimela was withdrawn and former Judge Jerome Ngwenya was allowed to stay on as chairperson.

This was announced late on Friday by Inkosi Mangosuthu Buthelezi, the traditional prime minister of the Zulu monarch and nation.

This was after Buthelezi and the king met in Ulundi in northern KwaZulu-Natal to discuss the matter.

The meeting was attended by Prince Thulani Zulu, Prince Thuthukani of Nxangiphilile, Prince Ndabuko of Onkweni, Prince Ntuthukoyezwe Buthelezi, the king’s legal advisor (not named), and Zululand district municipality mayor, Thulasizwe Buthelezi.

The confusion over who chairs the board started almost three weeks ago when the CEO of the Trust, Vela Mngwengwe, circulated a memo to staff and told them that Ngwenya has been replaced by Mzimela.

Ingonyama Trust is in charge of 2.8 million hectares of tribal land across the province and it nets millions in rental income.

The land is also rich in minerals like coal and iron-ore recently discovered in Melmoth.

In his memo, Mngwengwe told staff that he was informed of the changes by the office of the Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development, Thoko Didiza.

A few days later, Ngwenya issued a counter-memo to staff where he said he was still the chairperson and there had been attempts by Mngwengwe and others to lock him out of his office.

Mngwengwe fired back and said Ngwenya remains in the cold and staff should not take any instructions from him since that will amount to insubordination.

However, on Friday the scales were titled into Ngwenya’s favour when Buthelezi announced that after the meeting with the king, Mzimela’s nomination was withdrawn.

“Since His Majesty’s accession to the throne, there has not been an opportunity for the king to discuss matters of the Ingonyama Trust in full with his Traditional Prime Minister.

“It was vital that this take place to enable me, as the Prime Minister and as the author of the Ingonyama Trust Act, to provide the king with the full background to the Act and what has transpired during the almost three decades it has been in existence.

“This meeting became urgent when rumours emerged recently about His Majesty’s nominee in terms of Section 2A(3)(a) of the KwaZulu-Natal Ingonyama Trust Act, relating to the Chairperson of the Board.

“His Majesty felt it important that he provide clarity on this matter.

“I wish to thank His Majesty for indeed providing the needed clarity in our meeting, enabling me to report as follows to the Zulu Nation.

“While it was announced that Inkosi Thanduyise Mzimela had been appointed as Chairperson of the Ingonyama Trust Board, from the outset Inkosi Mzimela pleaded for his nomination to be withdrawn.

“Accordingly, His Majesty today announced the withdrawal of Inkosi Mzimela.

“His Majesty has confirmed that the Ingonyama Trust Board is still chaired by the king’s nominee.

“De jure, former Judge Jerome Ngwenya remains chairperson of the Board.

“This will be the case until further announcement, following discussions which His Majesty has requested between the King, the Chairperson and myself,” Buthelezi said in the statement.

Furthermore, Buthelezi said King Misuzulu KaZwelithini expressed his intention to convene a meeting of amakhosi to discuss matters relating to the Ingonyama Trust Board.

“As the King did not address amakhosi during the Imbizo called in December 2022, the King felt it important to now do so as a matter of urgency.

“A date for this meeting will be announced in due course,” he said.

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