No end to KwaMbonambi dis­putes

Zululand Observer - Weekender - - ZO NEWS - Or­rin Singh

A COM­MU­NITY is up in arms over un­paid land dam­age claims, an on­go­ing chief­tain­ship suc­ces­sion bat­tle, and al­le­ga­tions of deep­rooted cor­rup­tion.

These are just some of the is­sues which prompted dis­sat­is­fied mem­bers of KwaMbonambi to gather at the Nza­l­a­bantu

Sta­dium on Sun­day morn­ing, where a me­moran­dum was drafted to be handed over to the De­part­ment of Co­op­er­a­tive Gov­er­nance and Tra­di­tional Af­fairs

(Cogta).

The me­moran­dum fo­cused on the re­moval of the ad­min­is­tra­tor of the Mbuyazi clan’s Tra­di­tional Coun­cil, Martin Mbuyazi, who was ap­pointed by Premier Wil­lies Mchunu in 2017 to over­see a R74.5-mil­lion land dam­age claim pay­out be­tween Richards Bay Min­er­als (RBM) and the com­mu­nity.

The money was to be shared be­tween two trusts - R35.3-mil­lion al­lo­cated to a de­vel­op­ment trust and R39.2-mil­lion to a pub­lic ben­e­fit trust.

For the past decade RBM, owned by Rio Tinto, has been ready to make the pay­out in re­spect of nine phases, all per­tain­ing to min­ing on ances­tral land be­long­ing to the Mbuyazi clan.

How­ever fac­tions of the clan are em­broiled in a le­gal dis­pute over lead­er­ship suc­ces­sion, which sub­se­quently de­layed the re­lease of the funds.

In the me­moran­dum, which has since been handed over to Cogta, chair­per­son of the KwaMbonambi Land Dam­age Com­mit­tee, Wax Ndlela, cited the main rea­son for the re­moval of Martin Mbuyazi re­lates to al­le­ga­tions of cor­rup­tion.

The me­moran­dum also high­lighted that other mem­bers of the tribal coun­cil had abused pub­lic power by tak­ing ad­van­tage of their of­fi­cial po­si­tion to ar­range their per­sonal af­fairs, do­ing so for per­sonal gain.

This af­ter it is al­leged that the tribal coun­cil, tasked by RBM to ver­ify the num­ber of indige­nous peo­ple of KwaMbonambi that were meant to be paid out, re­moved 900 peo­ple off a list which ini­tially con­sisted of 1 372 per­sons.

The ini­tial num­ber of ben­e­fi­cia­ries was de­ter­mined by GIBB, one of South Africa’s lead­ing mul­ti­dis­ci­plinary en­gi­neer­ing con­sult­ing com­pa­nies, who were hired by the De­part­ment of Tra­di­tional Af­fairs and paid by RBM.

Al­le­ga­tions go as far as stat­ing that the tribal coun­cil re­moved these 900 peo­ple in or­der to ar­range that their friends and rel­a­tives ben­e­fit, many of whom have since re­ceived pay­outs and are not indige­nous peo­ple of KwaMbonambi.

‘The orig­i­nal peo­ple of KwaMbonambi have been paid far less than these ‘skele­ton peo­ple’, and that is not fair,’ Ndelela told the ZO.

Such is­sues have prompted threats from the Kwambo com­mu­nity that there will be no vot­ing in the up­com­ing elec­tions if their con­cerns are not heard and re­solved.

Com­mu­nity mem­bers ar­rived in droves at the Nza­l­a­bantu Sta­dium on Sun­day to voice their con­cerns over a va­ri­ety of is­sues

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