Why no consultation on Ingonyama Trust?
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.