Former president Kgalema Motlanthe last weeky hit back at Zulu King Zwelithini’s Ingonyama Trust, saying the monarch mobilised traditional leaders and his subjects based on a distortion of the report of the high-level panel he chaired.

Motlanthe also accused politicians of developing feet of clay in the aftermath of the release of the report and Zwelithini’s threats that KwaZulu-Natal would secede from the rest of South Africa.

Previously, several ANC leaders, including President Cyril Ramaphosa, met Zwelithini following the threats and assured him that his administration had no intention of taking over the land controlled by the Trust.

But Montlanthe said claims by the ANC in the province that it was not consulted were untrue as the governing party was represented in both the provincial legislature and in Parliament.

”They are actually the owners of the report,” he added.

Motlanthe described the Trust as a class of rent-seekers which collected R96million a year but did not account for the money.

He said the millions collected by this Trust were a slush fund on top of the millions Zwelithini receives from the provincial government.

“No one says traditional leaders cannot own land. The Trust reacted like a class of rent-seekers. The mobilisation of iZinduna in KZN was based on the distortion of the report,” he said.

According to Motlanthe, the claim that the high-level panel on the assessment of key legislation and the acceleration of fundamental change recommended that the Ingonyama Trust Act be amended to allow the government to take over management of the land, was not true.

”The opposite is true,” he insisted.

The panel’s report recommended to the Speaker’s Forum, which appointed it, that the Ingonyama Trust Act most urgently be repealed, or substantially amended, to protect existing customary land rights.

Motlanthe said the source of the Trust’s complaints was the R96m a year it collected from people living on the 2.8 million hectares under its control.

“During the hearings, ordinary people testified that they were being forced to convert their permission-to-occupy certificates to leases,” he said.

The former ANC secretary-general and country’s ex-deputy president said the leases were like any other lease and that households and businesses on the land the trust controls were charged R1600 a year and the rental escalates by 10% annually.

In July, Zwelithini summoned his subjects to a public meeting in uLundi to ask them to personally make contributions and influence the legislation.

He said traditional leaders were lobbying the government to give land to them but that this had no historical basis whatsoever.

”Land has always been owned by households,” said Motlanthe, adding that only Eastern Cape traditional leaders were clear that they do not own the land but merely custodians.

Motlanthe was answering questions at Wits University where he delivered the National Research Foundation’s Nobel-inspired lecture titled “The Vision of Nobel and Mandela: Meaning and challenges for a contemporary South Africa”.

The lecture was in honour of late former president and Nobel laureate Nelson Mandela and the founder of the international awards Alfred Nobel.

Olof Somell, curator of the Nobel Museum in Sweden, said the prize, which was established in 1895 in terms of Nobel’s last will and testament, was shorthand for excellence and is now awarded undeserved.

The Saturday Star