King Goodwill Zwelithini. Picture: SUNDAY TIMES
King Goodwill Zwelithini. Picture: SUNDAY TIMES

Zulu king Goodwill Zwelithini wants President Cyril Ramaphosa to sign an agreement promising to exclude territories that the monarch controls from a government land reform drive, eNCA reported on Monday.

The ANC is targeting white-owned land for expropriation while also seeking to provide security of tenure to the 17-million people — a third of SA's population — who reside on tribal lands controlled by traditional leaders.

The king controls 2.8-million hectares under an entity called the Ingonyama Trust. In September, a senior ANC official said land reform would include issuing title deeds to small-scale farmers on tribal lands — a departure from statements by Ramaphosa, who has pledged to the king that he will not touch the land he controls.

ENCA reported that the Zulu king said a signed agreement on the matter was needed, during an address he made to thousands of his subjects in Durban on Sunday.

"The president must come here to tell me and the Zulu nation, which I will call to gather here. He must tell us and then sign an agreement that the land of the Zulus will not be touched," the king was quoted as saying.

In July, the king warned of conflict over the issue. Other traditional leaders also publicly told the ANC not to undermine their authority on the 13%  of South African territory they rule.

Tribal authorities in these areas  have wide powers of land allocation and curtailing their power could have implications for a range of actors including mining companies, which cut deals with the chiefs to access minerals.

Co-operative governance and traditional affairs minister Zweli Mkhize said on Friday that the government had not yet decided how land reform would happen in the tribal areas.

"We haven’t yet reached consensus. It is a somewhat slippery issue, we are still trying to find the best solution," Mkhize said.

He said his ministry was discussing with traditional leaders and rural communities how best to ensure security of tenure for people living in tribal areas, whether through title deeds or other solutions. 

Reuters