President Cyril Ramaphosa Picture: @CyrilRamaphosa/Twitter

Durban – The African National Congress and government will not "touch" land falling under the Ingonyama Trust in KwaZulu-Natal, President Cyril Ramaphosa has assured Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini kaBhekuzulu.

“I gave him [Zwelithini] the assurance that we have no intention whatsoever to even touch that land or take it away or grab it from Ingonyama Trust,” Ramaphosa told journalists as he officially launched his "Thuma Mina" (send me) campaign in the Stanger area on Saturday.

Ramaphosa said he had met Zwelithini and Inkatha Freedom Party leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi on Friday night. Buthelezi is also traditional prime minister to the king.

“We discussed a whole range of issues. He and I have a wonderful, warm relationship. When the issue of the Ingonyama Trust came up, I felt the need to go and meet him and he agreed to the meeting,” said Ramaphosa.

“We had a good meeting and we discussed the issue. I assured him that the government, nor the ANC, has any intention whatsoever to take the land from the Ingonyama Trust. I reaffirmed that that land is under the control of the Ingonyama Trust, as per legislation. In the end it is the land that he has custody of on behalf of people in KZN. So that was clarified,” said Ramaphosa.

During a land imbizo on Wednesday, attended by about 4000 Zulu loyalists, Zwelithini called any attempts to remove his ownership of rural land in the province a provocation to the Zulu nation and a call to war. This is not the first time Zwelithini has made such remarks.

He was reacting to a report released last year titled the “High level panel on the assessment of key legislation and the acceleration of fundamental change”, drafted by a team led by former president Kgalema Motlanthe.

The 600-page report did not only address land, but also made recommendations on all legislation adopted since the ANC came to power. Concerning land, the report recommended that the “Ingonyama Trust Act be repealed, or substantially amended, to protect existing customary land rights”.

The trust, empowered by the Act, controls close on 30 percent of mostly deep rural land in KwaZulu-Natal. It was created on the eve of the 1994 election to secure the participation of the Inkatha Freedom Party in the elections. The apartheid-era KwaZulu government previously controlled the land.

South Africa is currently involved in an intense and emotive debate about the possibly of amending the Constitution to allow for expropriation of land without compensation. 

African News Agency/ANA