Johannesburg - The South African government on Friday said a wrong impression was created that the discussion on land expropriation included land in the hands of traditional leaders.
"Government wishes to clarify categorically that when government talks about land expropriation, we are referring to the 87 percent of the land not the 13 percent that is under the control of traditional leaders and black people. We wish to emphasise that the 13 percent of the land is not under any dispute,” Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) Minister, Zweli Mkhize said.
In the statement, released by Cogta, Mkhize said that government noted the "serious concerns raised by traditional leaders with respect to the report of the High Level Panel appointed by Parliament on the Assessment of Key Legislation and the Acceleration of Fundamental Change, led by former president Kgalema Motlanthe".
“Government would like to emphasise that the views expressed in that report are not those of government or the governing party but those of the panel”, said Mkhize.
On July 4, KwaZulu-Natal’s Zulu king told scores of loyal supporters that they must not allow themselves to be further provoked by the proposed scrapping or amendment of the controversial Ingonyama Trust Act.
King Goodwill Zwelithini kaBhekuzulu - speaking in isiZulu before a crowd of close on 4000 people at a sports stadium in Ulundi at a land imbizo that he had called - 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.
The Ingonyama Trust Act 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 Ingonyama Trust owns about 29.67 percent of mostly deep rural land in the KwaZulu-Natal province. The king is the sole trustee of the land, which is divided according to clans and is overseen by traditional leaders.
Zwelithini said that a new regiment, known as Ingaba, would be established to "defend" the Ingonyama Trust.
The future of the Trust has come under intense public scrutiny since the release in November last year of a report titled the “High Level Panel on the Assessment of Key Legislation and the Acceleration of Fundamental Change”. Chaired by former president Kgalema Motlanthe, the panel recommended that “the Ingonyama Trust Act be repealed, or substantially amended, to protect existing customary land rights”.
In the statement on Friday, Cogta said Mkhize called for input from the traditional leaders on the unfolding debates around the issues of land ownership and expropriation without compensation.
Mkhize and the rest of the ministerial task team, appointed by Cabinet to engage traditional leaders on the land expropriation issue, met with the leadership of the National House of Traditional Leaders (NHTL) and leaders of provincial houses in Pretoria on Friday.
The delegation of traditional leaders was led by the NHTL chairperson, Ikosi Sipho Mahlangu who was accompanied by the executive committee and the chairpersons of the provincial houses of traditional leaders.
The ministerial task team is lead by Mkhize, and include Communications Minister Nomvula Mokonyane; Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Senzeni Zokwana; and Rural Development and Land Reform Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane.
The task team forms part of the inter-ministerial committee on land reform led by Deputy President David Mabuza.
In the meeting on Friday, Cogta said the leaders appreciated the speed and the urgency with which government reacted to the concerns of land ownership and expropriation.
"Ikosi Mahlangu stated that traditional leaders had serious reservations about the Spatial Planning and Land Use Management Act, 2013 (SPLUMA). Minister Mkhize committed to joining hands to find the best way to ensure cooperation and working together between traditional leaders and government, especially municipalities. He said SPLUMA should assist to empower not only government, but also Traditional Leaders in the usage of land."
Cogta said other concerns raised by traditional leaders were on the possible review of chapters 7 and 12 of the Constitution. Government told the delegation that the matter was being given attention and that the process would unfold as part of the broader work to address concerns raised in various platforms by traditional leaders.
“Government would like to work with traditional leaders to ensure the resolution of this centuries old historical injustice of land dispossession”, said Mkhize.
African News Agency/ANA