Zweli Mkhize. Picture: ELMOND JIYANE.
Zweli Mkhize. Picture: ELMOND JIYANE.

In an attempt to quell tension between traditional leaders and the government, the Cabinet announced on Thursday that it had appointed a team of ministers to engage with local leaders on their concerns about land expropriation.

"The establishment of the ministerial team is in response to the various concerns raised at the start of Parliament’s public participation process to review section 25," Communications Minister Nomvula Mokonyane said during a post-cabinet briefing on Thursday.

Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Zweli Mkhize will lead the ministerial team, which includes Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Senzeni Zokwana, Rural Development and Land Reform Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, and Mokonyane.

The team is due to meet the leadership of the National House of Traditional Leaders and leaders of provincial houses on Friday in Pretoria.

Tension between traditional leaders — particularly the Zulu monarchy — and the government have escalated recently amid suggestions that traditional leaders should relinquish custodianship of land held in trust.

Former president Kgalema Motlanthe’s report of the High Level Panel on Assessment of Key Legislation and Acceleration of Fundamental Change recommended the disbandment of the Ingonyama Trust and he has referred to traditional leaders as "tinpot dictators".

Traditional leaders in the area, including Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini, have said they will oppose any attempts to disband the trust, with some going as far as to say there will be a bloodbath should the government proceed with the plan.

Traditional leaders in KwaZulu-Natal have indicated that they would approach the courts to seek clarity on the powers of the king and the government when it comes to the issue of land.

Earlier this week, the king convened an imbizo in Ulundi to discuss the future of the Ingonyama Trust. He warned that any attempts to take the land would lead to clashes.