In light of the resolution passed in parliament recently on land expropriation without compensation, the KwaZulu-Natal government has stated that it will not support any efforts to expropriate land from traditional leaders.
Speaking as acting premier of the province, the KZN MEC for Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs (EDTEA), Sihle Zikalala said the provincial government maintains a good relationship with Zulu King, Goodwill Zwelithini who is the trustee of the Ingonyama Trust which administers millions of hectares of land in KZN on behalf of communities, and that it supports Ingonyama Trust Board.
During the Sona debate, IFP leader, Mangosuthu Buthelezi said he is opposed to the dissolution of the trust – a recommendation that was made by a panel headed by former state president, Kgalema Motlanthe – and that implementing the land expropriation without compensation should not result with land managed by the trust being taken away.
“We are not opposed to rural people having a right on their land but we believe that could be done without taking away the right of traditional leaders as custodians of land in rural areas,” Zikalala said.
He said engagements are necessary so that a balance can be reached where traditional leaders continue to have complete authority over land under the trust while individual community members have rights over land.
King Zwelithini has since called on all his subjects to make monetary contributions for legal costs which would be incurred when he seeks to ensure the trust is not dissolved.
However, the MEC said the provincial government does not believe that the matter should be taken to the courts when settlements and agreements can be reached among the relevant stakeholders through processes of engagement and negotiations.
Zikalala said the provincial government is not advancing the view that land under the trust must be owned by traditional leaders but rather that the role of these leaders should not be abolished.
“Even now, people in rural areas are able to use the land for economic benefit even though they can’t use it either as collateral or anything of that nature,” he said.
The MEC said most of the land held by the trust is in the rural areas, some townships in the province falling under the trust.
“When the government and the ANC talk in particular of expropriation of land, we are not talking about expropriating land that is under Ingonyama Trust. The land that should be expropriated without compensation is the one that was taken forcefully from the indigenous people of this country,” he said.
In his response to the State of the Province Address last week, Zikalala said most of the arable land in KZN is not under the trust but is privately owned and is used for commercial agriculture, tourism and leisure.
“Therefore, the expropriation of land without compensation should be applicable to the arable land in the hands of private capital,” he said.