Why no con­sul­ta­tion on In­gonyama Trust?

Sunday Tribune - - NEWS&VIEWS -

IN HIS ar­ti­cle, “King takes il­lad­vised turn in land re­form ques­tion” (The Sun­day Tri­bune, June 3), Ebrahim Har­vey asks me to tell read­ers why I en­acted the In­gonyama Trust Act in 1994.

I am happy to do so, for his spec­u­la­tion is grossly mis­in­formed.

The act was the last piece of leg­is­la­tion passed by the Kwazulu Leg­isla­tive Assem­bly, to en­sure that tra­di­tional land would not au­to­mat­i­cally be taken over by the state.

The in­ten­tion was to pre­serve the few pieces of land left over af­ter gen­er­a­tions of racial dis­pos­ses­sion and colo­nial­ism, so that the land could con­tinue to be ad­min­is­tered through in­dige­nous and cus­tom­ary law.

The Kwazulu Leg­isla­tive Assem­bly was well within its rights to en­act this leg­is­la­tion. It didn’t need to, nor did it, ask for per­mis­sion from the Na­tional Party. The act was passed in broad day­light, un­der full me­dia scru­tiny.

It un­der­went ev­ery stage of leg­is­la­tion re­quired of any act and was pub­lished in the Gov­ern­ment Gazette.

In 1997, the act was vig­or­ously de­bated by the na­tional Par­lia­ment and was amended, to the full sat­is­fac­tion of all par­ties. It has re­mained le­git­i­mately in place for more than 20 years.

But at its na­tional pol­icy con­fer­ence in July 2017, the ANC noted that “…the KZN ANC has been mov­ing for the re­peal of (the) In­gonyama Trust”.

A few months later, a high-level panel led by the for­mer sec­re­tary­gen­eral of the ANC re­leased a re­port in which it rec­om­mended that the In­gonyama Trust Act be scrapped.

Strangely, dur­ing its in­ves­ti­ga­tions, the panel never con­sulted, nor even sought a con­ver­sa­tion with the In­gonyama Trust Board, the House of Tra­di­tional Lead­ers, the king as trus­tee, or even with me as the orig­i­na­tor of the act.

But sud­denly the de­bate is all about scrap­ping the In­gonyama Trust Act, as though this would be the panacea for gov­ern­ment’s failed pro­gramme of land re­form.

And God for­bid that tra­di­tional lead­ers dare re­act.

I chal­lenge Har­vey to ac­tu­ally read the panel’s re­port, which was not just on land re­form and was not ap­pointed by the deputy pres­i­dent.

The high-level panel on as­sess­ment of key leg­is­la­tion and ac­cel­er­a­tion of fun­da­men­tal change was ap­pointed by the Speaker’s Fo­rum to as­sess the im­pact of more than 1000 laws passed since 1994 on poverty, un­em­ploy­ment, so­cial co­he­sion and land re­form.

It is ab­surd to claim that the “thrust of its find­ings” was “that land had been al­lo­cated to tra­di­tional lead­ers in­stead of the peo­ple who most needed it”.

Since time im­memo­rial, com­mu­nal land has been ad­min­is­tered – through in­dige­nous and cus­tom­ary law – by tra­di­tional lead­ers who en­sure that each mem­ber of the com­mu­nity is al­lo­cated enough land to build their home, pro­duce food and sup­port their fam­ily.

Tra­di­tional lead­ers do not own the land. They sim­ply ad­min­is­ter the land to en­sure that “the peo­ple who most need it” have ac­cess to it.

The Zulu monarch also does not “own” the land. The land is held in trust on be­half of all the peo­ple, with the king as trus­tee.

It is an ad­min­is­tra­tive role, which the king then del­e­gates to tra­di­tional lead­ers who ful­fil the pre­scripts of in­dige­nous and cus­tom­ary law.

A king­dom is called a king­dom be­cause it cen­tres on a king.

Are we now to say that the gov­ern­ment is more ef­fec­tive in al­lo­cat­ing land to those in need? If that were the case, we would not be sit­ting with this time bomb of failed land re­form.

Har­vey claims (Kgalema) Mot­lanthe is be­ing forced to “walk on eggshells” while the Zulu king “ve­he­mently at­tacks” him and “threat­ens vi­o­lence”.

Let’s un­pack that claim.

Dur­ing the ANC’S land sum­mit last month, Mot­lanthe pulled no punches, call­ing tra­di­tional lead­ers “vil­lage tin-pot dic­ta­tors.”

This is ex­actly the lan­guage used by Bri­tish colo­nial­ists who sought to den­i­grate and un­der­mine tra­di­tional lead­er­ship.

In 1897, the then gov­er­nor of Natal, Sir Arthur Have­lock, ad­dressed the so-called “chiefs of Bri­tish Zu­l­u­land” as their “supreme chief ”.

Is it not in­cen­di­ary to start speak­ing to tra­di­tional lead­ers in the lan­guage of our colonis­ers, call­ing us “vil­lage tin-pot dic­ta­tors”?

Har­vey in­dulges in that same provo­ca­tion when he refers to the king sim­ply as “Zwelithini”. I am yet to see any­one re­fer to the queen of the United King­dom as “El­iz­a­beth” or “Mount­bat­ten­wind­sor”.

On the part of the king, I am al­ways frus­trated when peo­ple mis­rep­re­sent a warn­ing of im­mi­nent vi­o­lence as a threat.

So of­ten when umkhonto wesizwe at­tacked our peo­ple, slaugh­ter­ing in­no­cent civil­ians in their peo­ple’s war, I warned that the peo­ple would not sit on their hands for­ever with­out re­tal­i­at­ing.

You can only push peo­ple so far. As much as I called for peace and non-vi­o­lence, hu­man na­ture and the psy­chol­ogy of be­ing con­stantly un­der at­tack sug­gest that at some point the vic­tim is go­ing to lash out.

But when­ever I warned that vi­o­lence was im­mi­nent if the ANC did not stop what they were do­ing, I was cas­ti­gated for threat­en­ing vi­o­lence.

Now the king suf­fers the same cas­ti­ga­tion. When I hear the king say: “I’m plead­ing with the gov­ern­ment not to take the land that be­longs to peo­ple from ru­ral vil­lages be­cause they will re­tal­i­ate and blood will be shed”, I hear a leader beg­ging for vi­o­lence to be averted.

Con­sider, for in­stance, that you’re walk­ing down a road and some­one stops to warn you that there is a snake up ahead. If you ig­nore the warn­ing and con­tinue on re­gard­less, do you then blame the per­son who warned you when the snake in­deed bites?

There is, as Har­vey says, a “huge so­cial cri­sis” around the is­sue of land re­form. I am sur­prised that he lauds Julius Malema for hav­ing “slammed Zweli­ti­hini” for his re­ac­tion to the panel’s re­port, but then laments “land in­va­sions” as though they have any­thing to do with tra­di­tional lead­er­ship.

Land in­va­sions are a di­rect con­se­quence of Malema’s calls for peo­ple to act il­le­gally and take what­ever land they de­sire.

With ut­ter con­tempt, Har­vey de­clares “what the In­gonyama Trust should do”: they should seek an ur­gent meet­ing with Mot­lanthe to dis­cuss their con­cerns.

Amakhosi did in fact ask Mot­lanthe to ad­dress their con­fer­ence, but the in­vi­ta­tion was ig­nored. Nev­er­the­less, the horse has al­ready bolted.

Why did Mot­lanthe not seek a con­ver­sa­tion with the In­gonyama Trust, or even with the House of Tra­di­tional Lead­ers, be­fore pub­lish­ing rec­om­men­da­tions with such far-reach­ing, detri­men­tal con­se­quences?

We never imag­ined that when the ANC ex­pro­pri­ated land with­out com­pen­sa­tion, the first to suf­fer would be the ru­ral poor.

PRINCE MAN­GO­SUTHU BUTHELEZI, MP. IFP pres­i­dent, for­mer Kwazulu chief min­is­ter, In­gonyama Trust Act orig­i­na­tor

Prince Man­go­suthu Buthelezi.

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