File picture: Sibonelo Ngcobo/African News Agency (ANA)

DURBAN – The Ingonyama Trust is preparing to make formal representations at a public land hearing, trust chairman Jerome Ngwenya said on Thursday.  

“We are still considering who will represent us, that decision is likely to be made by Monday. Much of what we plan to say was already said at the imbizo held on Wednesday,” Ngwenya told African News Agency (ANA).

South Africa is currently gripped in an emotive land debate with public hearings being held countrywide. Parliament's joint constitutional review committee has been tasked with gathering comment on a possible review of section 25 of the constitution to allow for land expropriation without compensation that is in the public interest.

Nearly one million written submissions have been received.

A delegation from the committee will host public hearings in KwaZulu-Natal from 18 to 21 July at four locations around the province.

Ngwenya’s commitment comes just a day after King Goodwill Zwelithini kaBhekuzulu held an Imbizo in Ulundi to discuss Zulu tribal land currently controlled by the trust, of which the king is the sole trustee.

Traditional leaders, loyalists, several politicians and representatives from several civil society movements attended the event, all affirming their support for the king and his ownership of the land. 

Speaking in isiZulu, King Zwelithini said the Zulu nation inherited the land from their ancestors and any attempt to strip them of their ownership would be an insult to the ancestors.

A report released in November last year titled the “High Level Panel on the Assessment of Key Legislation and the Acceleration of Fundamental Change” has fuelled the debate surrounding the Trust.

The 600-page report did not only address land, but made recommendations on all legislation adopted since the African National Congress (ANC) came into power.

Led by former president Kgalema Motlanthe, the sections dealing with land recommended that, “the Ingonyama Trust Act be repealed, or substantially amended, to protect existing customary land rights”.

The Act, which gives effect to the trust, was pushed through on the eve of the 1994 elections to secure the involvement of the Inkatha Freedom Party in the country’s first democratic election.  The now non-existent KwaZulu Government had previously administered the same land.

The Ingonyama Trust owns about 29.67% of mostly deep rural land in the KwaZulu-Natal province that is administered by traditional leaders, under the king's authority, according to clans. 

African News Agency (ANA)