King Goodwill Zwelithini Picture: Sibonelo Ngcobo/African News Agency (ANA) Archives

Durban - Some traditional leaders in KwaZulu-Natal are revolting against King Goodwill Zwelithini’s Ingonyama Trust, saying they want full rights and control of the money being generated by their land.

Inkosi Mzabane Makhoba from Kokstad in southern KwaZulu-Natal told Independent Media that while he was anointed by King Zwelithini and appreciated the role of the board of the Trust in protecting the traditional land from being taken over by the state, amakhosi deserved a right to have full control of their land.

“The Ingonyama Trust should give traditional leaders full right to administer finances generated through leasing the land to investors. Currently the traditional land benefits Ingonyama Trust, while traditional leaders and their communities get nothing,” he said.

“Therefore I suggest that the land should be fully administered by amakhosi and their traditional councils for the benefit of their communities,” Makhoba said.

There are 303 traditional leaders in the province, most of whom have expressed support for the Ingonyama Trust and have called on the state not to interfere with the king’s land.

King Zwelithini is the sole trustee of Ingonyama, which administers 2.8million hectares of rural land in the province and reportedly collects close to R90million a year through leasing land to businesses.

Inkosi Bhungane Hadebe said his community in Estcourt, northern KwaZulu-Natal, did not recognise Ingonyama Trust “because we were never consulted when it was formed”.

“We share the same view with the Zulu King that the land belongs to traditional leaders and not to the government. But we cannot recognise a body that was formed without consulting all traditional leaders,” Hadebe said.

The campaign to protect Ingonyama came after former president Kgalema Motlanthe released a report compiled by a parliamentary panel that recommended that Parliament should consider repealing the Ingonyama Trust Act as it was unconstitutional.

The Act was formulated by IFP leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi while prime minister of the defunct Zululand homeland, and passed by former president FW de Klerk on the eve of the first democratic elections in 1994.

Last week, Buthelezi said he single-handedly formed Ingonyama Trust to protect the land, which used to fall under the homeland government, from falling under the government’s control.

Some traditional leaders have been silently opposing the powers of the Ingonyama Trust board.

“The King does not have the ownership of the land. The land belonged to our forefathers, who as traditional leaders had full rights and powers over their land until the formation of the Ingonyama,” a traditional leader said on condition of anonymity.

“I, together with a number of other traditional leaders, don’t want our land to be administered by Ingonyama. We want to administer our own land like we did before the Ingonyama was formed in 1994,” a traditional leader from the Midlands added.

Another traditional leader said previously they would take their own decisions about their own land, but now had to write letters to the Ingonyama Trust to request development on their land.

“Sometimes the board would reject our requests. It means I am not inkosi when I have to beg someone who does not belong to my land to use my land,” he said, requesting anonymity.

But Congress of Traditional Leaders of SA secretary Inkosi Nhlakanipho Maphumulo differed, saying each traditional council had control of their respective land, although investors who wanted to operate businesses on the land signed a lease agreement with Ingonyama Trust.

“Businesses pay an annual levy to Ingonyama Trust. There are traditional trust accounts within Ingonyama Trust (in respect) of which traditional councils and amakhosi have access to that money, which helps to develop their communities.”

King’s spokesperson Thulani Zulu declined to comment, while Ingonyama Trust board chairperson Judge Jerome Ngwenya did not respond to questions sent to him through SMS and emails.

The Mail and Guardian recently reported that the Ingonyama Trust board was being legally challenged for allegedly forcing businesses, churches and residents to lease their land.

KwaZulu-Natal Council of Churches and Lutheran Church were among the groups preparing to go to court to stop the board from continuing to lease the land.

Political Bureau