King Goodwill Zwelithini. Picture: THE TIMES
King Goodwill Zwelithini. Picture: THE TIMES

Several traditional leaders in KwaZulu-Natal have broken ranks and are demanding that their land be moved from under the Ingonyama Trust.

A group of traditional leaders from Jozini and Kokstad said they would rather have their land free of control of the trust, which is "unaccountable".

The trust was established on the eve of elections in 1994 to "protect" land under traditional leaders. It controls almost all of the province and the Zulu king is the sole trustee, advised by eight board members.

The trust charges business and residential levies and even imposes a 10% escalation. The trust has come under close scrutiny since a National Assembly-appointed panel led by former president Kgalema Motlanthe recommended that the trust be disbanded and land given to municipalities so they can hand over title deeds to the people occupying the land.

The Zulu king has dismissed the recommendations and called on Zulus to take up arms if necessary to defend land. Despite pressure to reconstitute or disband the trust, it is unlikely ahead of an election. The government has said traditional land is not a target for expropriation without compensation.

Chief Andile Matomane, a leader from Kokstad, complained the traditional leaders were not party to the trust’s establishment and do not believe it is doing a good job. "We have informed officials from the department of rural development & land reform that we are not happy about the fact that our land is administered by Ingonyama Trust," he said.

"This is not Zulu land as it belongs to the amaMpondo and it doesn’t make sense for this land to be administered in Zululand. Furthermore, we have not been informed about anything that the Ingonyama Trust is doing, its profits from leasing land. We wonder why government compels us to get Ingonyama Trust papers when we are leasing this land to our people," Matomane said.

"We are prepared to go to court about this matter. But we want to give dialogue a chance."

Cyril Gangerdine, a Griqua traditional leader, also expr-essed unhappiness. He has been instrumental in lodging a land claim to a tract of land from Mzimkhulu River up to Kokstad and part of Matatiele before the land claim deadline of 1998.

"We are also adamant that this land belongs to our ancestors and has nothing to do with the Zulu king and Ingonyama Trust. We get no information from them. They are accountable to themselves, I guess," he said.

Prince Thulani Zulu, spokesperson for Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini, said they have noted reports about these traditional leaders but the Zulu monarch will only address them if they follow protocol and speak to him.