Picture Sibonelo Ngcobo

DURBAN - The ANC is doing damage control after King Goodwill Zwelithini’s scathing attack on the party and its “insensitive” approach to the Ingonyama Trust issue.

President Cyril Ramaphosa has assured the king that land held by the Ingonyama Trust will not be expropriated.

“I gave him (the king) the assurance that we have no intention of touching that land or grabbing it from the Ingonyama Trust,” Ramaphosa told journalists as he officially launched his “Thuma Mina” (send me) campaign in KwaDukuza yesterday.

The king has been highly critical of the recommendations of the independent high-level panel chaired by Kgalema Motlanthe that the Ingonyama Trust Act be repealed to bring it in line with national land policy and secure land tenure for communities and residents.

On Friday a ministerial task team headed by Zweli Mkhize, Minister of Co-operative Government and Traditional Affairs, met the National House of Traditional Leaders to engage on the land issue.

Mkhize’s team, which also comprises the Land Reform and Rural Development Minister Maite Nkoana Mashabane and Agriculture Minister Senzeni Zokwana, is part of a bigger Inter-Ministerial Committee on Land Reform led by Deputy President David Mabuza to co-ordinate and implement measures to accelerate the redistribution of land.

Mkhize told the traditional authorities led by Inkosi Sipho Mahlangu that the wrong impression had been created that land expropriation talks included land in the hands of traditional leaders.

“The government wishes to clarify categorically that when the government talks about land expropriation, we are referring to the 87% of the land, not the 13% that is under the control of traditional leaders and black people. We wish to emphasise that 13% is not in dispute,” he said.

Ramaphosa said he had met the king and Inkatha Freedom Party leader Inkosi Mangosuthu Buthelezi on Friday night.

Buthelezi is also the traditional prime minister to the king. “We discussed a 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. I reaffirmed that land is under the trust’s control as per legislation. In the end, it is land which he has custody of on behalf of people in KwaZulu-Natal. So that was clarified,” said Ramaphosa.

Mkhize also emphasised that Ramaphosa, had said during the BRICS Business Council on Friday that there had been a misunderstanding over the land targeted.

He said the government would like to stress that the views expressed in Motlanthe’s report were not those of the government or the ANC but of the panel.

On Wednesday, thousands of traditional leaders attended an Imbizo at Ulundi where the king called on all his subjects to think about how the trust land should be protected and to remember that wherever they were, they were Zulu first, irrespective of the profession they may hold.

The king warned that KZNwas prepared to become its own state if the government continued to alienate them. The king said that it had not crossed his mind that he would be ill-treated under the democratic dispensation.

“It has become clear that during the struggle they were looking at us and planning to get back to us when we attained freedom as they now seem to think we’re not the rightful owners of our land,” said the king.

He said it seemed the government had hatred for the Zulu nation.

“A person who wants to dispossess you of your blanket, which is the land, hates you,” he said.

He urged Zulus not to vote for people who displayed hatred for them. “These people don’t like us, they only like your votes. They think we are fools,”the king said

On Thursday the EFF, came out in support of the king’s imbizo a few months after party leader Julius Malema said that in a democratic country the issue of expropriation of land should be debated without fear of the king.