Thousands of King Goodwill Zwelithini’s subjects gathered in Ulundi on Wednesday for an imbizo convened by the king.
Picture: Sibonelo Ngcobo/African News Agency (ANA)
President Cyril Ramaphosa has assured traditional leaders, including Zulu King Zwelithini, that land under their custodianship would be excluded from possibly being expropriated by the government.

Ramaphosa made the commitment ahead of his planned meeting with Zwelithini today in which the thorny issue of the Ingonyama Trust, land under the king's control, was expected to be discussed.

Last year former president Kgalema Motlanthe's high-level panel on the assessment of key legislation recommended that the Ingonyama Trust Act be repealed.

The act, which became law in 1994, gave custodianship of traditional land to Zwelithini as the sole trustee of the Ingonyama Board.

But the panel found that the rights of those living on the land were abrogated, and upon the release of its report the Ingonyama Trust board advertised for those living on the land to seek 40-year leases.

The interministerial task team headed by Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Zweli Mkhize also gave the same commitment yesterday during the task team's marathon meeting with the leaders of the National House of Traditional Leaders (NHTL).

The urgent meeting followed a warning issued by traditional leaders two weeks ago to the government that they would resist any attempts to expropriate their land without compensation.

Tensions eased between the parties after Mkhize’s team, which also comprises Land Reform and Rural Development Minister Maite Nkoana Mashabane and Agriculture Minister Senzeni Zokwana, reiterated Ramaphosa's oath.

“It is not the view of the ANC or the government to expropriate without compensation the 13% of the land under the control of traditional leaders. It was a view of a high-level person in the governing party but it was certainly not the view of the ANC.

“President Cyril Ramaphosa issued a statement in which he reiterated that the land under traditional leaders will not be affected,”Mkhize said.

Sipho Mahlangu, the chairperson of NHTL, appeared satisfied their land would not be affected and insisted that expropriation of land without compensation should be targeted at “those people who own 87% of the land”.

“We must get the 87% of the land in the hands of the other people and use it for the benefit of African people," Mahlangu said.

Ramaphosa also appointed an interministerial committee on land reform to be headed by Deputy President David Mabuza yesterday.

Presidential spokesperson Khusela Diko said Mabuza’s committee would co-ordinate and implement measures to accelerate the redistribution of land, the extension of security of tenure, the provision of agricultural support and the redress of spatial inequality within a comprehensive land redistribution and agricultural development programme.

“President Ramaphosa said the appointment of the IMC is in line with his commitment to accelerate the land redistribution programme not only to redress a grave historical injustice, but also to bring more producers into the agricultural sector and to make more land available for cultivation towards poverty reduction and strengthening the economy.”