SOME traditional leaders in KwaZulu-Natal fear now that Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini has died, the State will intensify its efforts to disband Ingonyama Trust and take over the 2.8 million hectares of land it owns.
In the past three years the issue of the trust has pitted the national government against the province's traditional leaders, the king and the IFP and KZN ANC, among others.
Acting on a recommendation from a high panel headed by former president Kgalema Motlanthe, Parliament wants to repeal the Act which gave birth to the trust in 1994. It wants the land to be taken over by the state.
But the late king, some of his people and traditional leaders opposed the move.
Speaking in Nongoma on Saturday where the Zulu nation is mourning the death of the beloved king, Inkosi Mfanuvele Buthelezi of the Buthelezi clan in Vryheid, said he and other traditional leaders are concerned about the future of the trust.
"We fear now the king is no longer with us, they (State) will intensify efforts to disband the trust and take away the land it administers. The king successfully opposed them while he was around and they may exploit the vacuum and rush the process to grab it," Buthelezi said.
Buthelezi dismissed as fallacy that land under traditional leadership and in the current format of ownership is not productive.
"Look at the land under the State, it's not even productive or given to people to utilise it. In fact, the State cannot even properly manage it. Now, they say the land must be given to the people yet they are taking the little land the people now have through traditional leaders," he said.
Inkosi Mabhudu Tembe who leads the large Tembe of Manguzi said while there were those fears about the trust, the State should know any efforts to disband the trust would be met with fierce resistance just like when the king was still around.
"I hope they will not become brutal just because the king has just passed away and take that decision. It would be inhumane for them to do that. I must warn them that they must know we are still around as traditional leaders and we will defend the trust. We still insist the land must remain in the hands of traditional leaders on behalf of the people," Tembe said.
He added the land under traditional leaders is more productive, contrary to what the detractors often claim.
Meanwhile, unlike on Friday when only a delegation of princes and king's confidants convened outside KwaKhethomthandayo palace to mourn his demise, there was a different picture on Saturday.
By 10am the lawns outside the palace was full of people from all walks of life. Among them were mayors like Thulasizwe Buthelezi of the Zululand district municipality and local church leaders.
By 12pm, the chairperson of the KZN house of traditional leaders, Phathisizwe Chiliza, leading a delegation of tradition leaders, walked in to pass their condolences.
Security was also beefed up and strict Covid-19 protocols were enforced by SAPS and traffic police.