King Goodwill Zwelithini. Picture: THULI DLAMINI
King Goodwill Zwelithini. Picture: THULI DLAMINI

There has been no decision to take away land from the Ingonyama Trust, Rural Development and Land Reform Deputy Minister Mcebisi Skwatsha said on Monday.

The ANC resolved at its conference in December that traditional leaders should relinquish custodianship of the land held in trust by the government.

Former president Kgalema Motlanthe’s report of the High Level Panel of Assessment of Key Legislation of Fundamental Change recommended the disbandment of the Ingonyama Trust.

Traditional leaders in the area, including the King, have said they will oppose any attempts to disband the trust with some going as far as saying they will be bloodbath should government proceed with the plan. The Ingonyama Trust was established in 1994 to manage the land traditionally owned by the KwaZulu-Natal government. The trust owns close to 30% of the land in KwaZulu-Natal and the only trustee is King Goodwill Zwelithini.

“With all humility I have to say there has been no decision by our government to take away land from Ingonyama Trust,” Skwatsha said during the debate on the state of the nation address on Monday.

“We have to treat this matter with caution … we have to treat the issue of the land question with caution across the board,” he said.

Motlanthe’s report suggested that all the land under the trust’s administration should be surrendered to the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform, a process which would make equal distribution possible. The report found the Ingonyama Trust Act to be unconstitutional and went on to state that the trust had made no contribution towards nation building.

According to the report, legislation on land appropriation was unique to KwaZulu-Natal and the Ingonyama Trust board seemingly had unfettered control and more power than the minister of rural development and land reform had in other provinces.

The land that the trust controls is administered in terms of Zulu customary law, and is divided according to clans under the leadership of traditional leaders who in turn are responsible to the King in terms of customary law.

Earlier in February, KwaZulu-Natal’s traditional leaders vowed to challenge the decision to transfer land under the trust to the state, warning that there would be bloodbath should the government implement the decision.

Zulu warriors threatened to deal with anyone who tried to interfere or amend the Ingonyama Trust Act.

Amabutho leader Induna Muzi Nyandeni reportedly said they were disturbed about recommendations contained in the Motlanthe report to scrap the act.