Thousands of King Goodwill Zwelithini's subjects gathered in Ulundi on Wednesday for an Imbizo convened by the king. Top of the agenda on the Imbizo is the issue of communal land. Picture: Sibonelo Ngcobo/African News Agency (ANA)

DURBAN - Umkhonto we Sizwe Military Veterans' Association spokesperson, Carl Niehaus, on Wednesday, told scores of Zulu loyalists and traditional leaders that the Zulu king is “supreme” in KwaZulu-Natal.

Niehaus was speaking in Ulundi at a land imbizo that was called by Zulu king, Goodwill Zwelithini kaBhekuzulu. The imbizo was set to tackle proposals that have been made to either dissolve the Ingonyama Trust or significantly amend its powers.

Those proposals, made in the “High Level Panel on the Assessment of Key Legislation and the Acceleration of Fundamental Change” report, chaired by former president Kgalema Motlanthe and released in November last year, have been thrust centre stage as South Africa is grappling with amending Section 25 of the Constitution to facilitate land expropriation without compensation.

The Trust owns about 29.67 percent of mostly deep rural land in KwaZulu-Natal, which covers an area of 94,361 km². While Zwelithini is the sole trustee of the land, it is divided according to clans and is overseen by traditional leaders. 

Taking to the podium, Niehaus said that he was speaking as an African National Congress (ANC) member and “white South African”.

“I want to say in clear terms, why are we here trying to discuss what is going to happen to land that is already in the hands of traditional leaders? Seventy percent of the land in South Africa is still in the possession of whites. Lets talk about that land,” he said.

Nieuhaus said that as an ANC member, he had to express his concern about Motlanthe having “launched an attack on traditional leaders”. The attack was unjustified, he said.

Presumably, Nieuhaus was speaking about Motlanthe’s statements at the ANC’s land summit in June. While addressing issues around rural land ownership and traditional leadership, Motlanthe said: “The majority of [traditional leaders] are acting as village tin-pot dictators to the people there in the villages”.

Nieuhaus said the ANC must be concerned about the return of land from “those who had stolen it from blacks, especially Africans”.

He said that since its inception, the ANC had supported and carried traditional leaders.

“Let us not behave in a manner that will undermine that. We need unity in South Africa and must work as fellow South Africans, but let us never undermine the little of what belongs to the black South Africans. Let us expand on that and be clear that in KZN, you, your majesty, stand supreme as king of the Zulu nation.”

African News Agency (ANA)