Inkatha Freedom Party leader Velenkosini Hlabisa Picture: Leon Lestrade/African News Agency/ANA

Durban - Newly-elected Inkatha Freedom Party leader Velenkosini Hlabisa has called for a debate surrounding the controversy between the government and the Ingonyama Trust Board over land.

The debate, he said, would ensure that those against the board administrating land would better understand its role and perhaps change their minds about calling for the Ingonyama Trust Act to be repealed or amended.

Addressing the media immediately after being elected to replace long-time party leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi, Hlabisa lashed at President Cyril Ramaphosa’s appointed presidential advisory panel on land reform over its recommendations that the Act be scrapped.

Another panel led by former president Kgalema Motlanthe had previously made similar recommendations.

“We need to have an open discussion, and not rush to conclude as the latest panel did not consult as much as it should have done.

“They did not even consult the king of the Zulu nation (King Goodwill Zwelithini) and Prince of KwaPhindangene (Buthelezi) on the Ingonyama Trust,” said Halbisa.

He pointed out that the panel should have also consulted those from rural communities, who it said are occupants of the trust’s land.

Hlabisa further noted that he feared that if the trust is scrapped, some individuals would be granted rights of tenure and would abuse title deeds by using them as guarantees when applying for bank loans.

“I can take the title deed to borrow money from the bank, and when I fail to pay the money the bank can take the homestead. With this many rural families are likely to turn homeless,” he said.

During the presentation of the IFP’s conference resolutions, its secretary-general Siphosethu Ngcobo said the party would reject calls for the trust to be repealed or interfered with in its current form, as those who were against it had “not properly studied the merits of the Ingonyama Trust Act”.

“Our belief is that the trust is the only example in South Africa where a large part of the land is in the hands of the black majority.

“Communal land must remain in the hands of the people under the custodianship of traditional leaders with the provincial government providing support to traditional leaders and emerging farmers,” read the resolution.

The party also raised concerns over the ongoing debate on land reform - that foreign investors would be intimidated or the agricultural sector and economy would collapse if the debate wasn’t handled properly.

“It risks turning South Africa into another failed state. However it has the potential to be a foundation of a renewed economy, which our country so critically needs.

“We reiterate our position for expropriation with compensation as it is currently espoused in the constitution,” said Ngcobo.

Hlabisa joined the IFP at the age of eight. He has been a leader in all of the party’s structures, at branch level and in the youth brigade.

Political Bureau