ZULU King Goodwill Zwelithini is taking the fight against the proposed scrapping of the Ingonyama Trust to President Cyril Ramaphosa.
The trust was established in 1994 to manage the land traditionally owned by the KwaZulu-Natal government. It owns close to 30% of the land in that province and the only trustee is King Goodwill Zwelithini, who administers about 2.8million hectares of tribal land.
Former president Kgalema Motlanthe’s high-level panel recommended to Parliament to scrap the act because it was unconstitutional.
Motlanthe’s report suggested all the land under the trust’s administration should be surrendered to the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform, which would make equal distribution possible.
But Zwelithini and traditional leaders in KwaZulu-Natal have said they would oppose any attempts to dispossess them of what they believe to be their rightful land.
The king has set up a fund to assemble a team of lawyers to fight for what he regards as his land.
He has the backing of KwaZulu-Natal Premier Willies Mchunu who has vowed that the province will not support any attempts to scrap the Ingonyama Trust.
“I need to speak to the president urgently, so that he explains why is it that when we are talking about land this one is targeted - our land is fertile, that is why they are provoking us, we know war but we want to be warriors of peace,” he said.
The king said he would not allow his subjects to be abused by the democratic government as it had suffered under apartheid.
He said he could instruct his subjects to withhold their votes at next year’s general elections if he continued to be “disrespected”.
“Today there are people who want to tell us that our land will be taken. Who did we take this land from? We are being judged by people who don’t know us, who have no intention to know us, they are abusing their power,” he said.
The king called for support not only from Zulu-speaking South Africans, but from all who lived under his leadership, whatever the colour of their skin.
“Let us not underestimate this war against us. South Africa hates us, I wish that we hold hands and overcome this,” he said.
His said that his gripe with Motlanthe was not that the former president had a different opinion but rather that he wanted his opinions to be accepted by force.
“We had asked him (Motlanthe) to come to a meeting at the ICC, this invitation had good intentions, because we want to understand these recommendations.
“Those were good intentions from our side, to give him and his team an opportunity to give us an explanation,” he added.
The king said he was particularly angered by allegations that the trust was “put together” by apartheid.
He said the matter was used to provoke the “peaceful” Zulu nation and that it needed to be finalised once and for all.
He suggested that the Zulu nation was always under attack and that perhaps they were not welcome in a democratic South Africa.
“We are being treated as illegitimate children of this country. Government must come out and tell us where we will go, because we are hurt by this ANC government we respect.
“We are being attacked by democratic leaders whom we elected,” he said.
The king reminded the ruling party to clean up its house.
“They must fix their own problems within the ANC and stop bothering us,” he said.
The king announced that in the meantime the Ingonyama Trust would be going ahead with the legal route to challenge the proposed dissolution of the trust.