King Goodwill Zwelithini and Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi wearing traditional regalia at Shaka’s day in KwaDukuza, in 2012. Picture: THULI DLAMINI/SUNDAY TIMES
King Goodwill Zwelithini and Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi wearing traditional regalia at Shaka’s day in KwaDukuza, in 2012. Picture: THULI DLAMINI/SUNDAY TIMES

Inkatha Freedom Party leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi warned that scrapping the Ingonyama Trust would be the first stage of disempowering traditional leaders and could threaten their existence.

Buthelezi tackled the issue of land at a gathering of the house of traditional leaders in Durban on Wednesday. "I feel that the time has come‚ in my life at least‚ to issue a final warning to traditional leaders on what is undoubtedly a threat to the continued existence of this institution‚" he said.

The trust is a corporate entity established to administer the land traditionally owned by black South Africans‚ represented by Zulu monarch Goodwill Zwelithini.

The high-level Panel on the Assessment of Key Legislation and Fundamental Change recommended that the Ingonyama Trust Act be repealed or amended and the Ingonyama Trust collapsed‚ ceding control of traditional land to the state.

"If government can scrap this act and expropriate land administered by traditional leaders‚ we should not be surprised when it takes the next step in disempowering traditional communities‚" Buthelezi added.

The elderly politician said the forum of traditional leaders was vital and should serve to oppose the looming "crisis".

"The king now seeks to call an imbizo‚ to be held on July 4‚ so that we as traditional leaders from across KwaZulu-Natal can grapple with the threat that faces this institution. As the prime minister to the king‚ it is my duty to announce this imbizo. I pray that it will offer the platform for us to secure the future‚" he said.

"I will continue to fight on behalf of traditional leaders and traditional communities. This has been my lifelong work‚ for I believe in protecting all that our ancestors fought to achieve. Let us take their fight forward and ensure that it does not become a closed chapter of history‚" Buthelezi said.