President Cyril Ramaphosa addressing the BRICS Stakeholders Round-table meeting at the Sefako Makgatho Presidential Guest House to prepare for the upcoming BRICS Summit scheduled later this month. Picture: JAIRUS MMUTLE/GCIS
President Cyril Ramaphosa addressing the BRICS Stakeholders Round-table meeting at the Sefako Makgatho Presidential Guest House to prepare for the upcoming BRICS Summit scheduled later this month. Picture: JAIRUS MMUTLE/GCIS

SA’s land redistribution drive will not affect communal land controlled by tribal chiefs, President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Friday, in a bid to defuse growing tension over the issue.

On Wednesday Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini warned of possible violence if the state tried to expropriate communal land, which makes up 13% of SA.

Public hearings are under way to gauge support for expropriation of land without compensation. Reformers in the ANC had wanted the policy to apply to tribal land to provide people in such areas with direct property ownership.

This would significantly dilute the power held by traditional leaders, who argue they are the custodians of land that was communal before Europeans arrived on the scene.

"It is not government’s intention to go and grab land from rural communities, land that is under the control of traditional leaders," Ramaphosa said at a business breakfast.

Tribal authorities control access to resources on such land, including who can farm certain plots, and they also negotiate deals in such areas with companies including miners, giving them significant power.

They are a key political base of the ANC and their support will be crucial in elections next year. On several occasions this week they warned the ANC to keep its hands of their lands.

He also pointedly said the government would not touch land under the administration of the Ingonyama Trust, which is effectively controlled by Zwelithini.

"We have no intention whatsoever to go and grab the land that is under the Ingonyama Trust. Our programme of land redistribution and land reform is going to follow a constitutional process," Ramaphosa said.

"I am going to be meeting with his majesty, the king to address this matter so that whatever fears he and the Zulu nation have should be completely dispelled."

On Wednesday, Zwelithini evoked the spectre of conflict on the issue, telling a summit that "this will be the second clash" over land, the first being the 19th century Anglo-Zulu war.

Reuters

Please sign in or register to comment.