The Presidential Advisory Panel on Land Reform’s report recommended that the Ingonyama Trust Act must be repealed or the trust disbanded entirely.
The Act, which gives effect to the trust, was pushed through on the eve of the 1994 elections to secure the involvement of the Inkatha Freedom Party in the country’s first democratic election.
The Ingonyama Trust owns about 29.67% of mostly deep rural land in the KwaZulu-Natal province that is administered by traditional leaders, under the Zulu king Zwelithini’s authority, according to clans.
King Zwelithini has previously said that the Zulu nation inherited the land from their ancestors and any attempt to strip them of their ownership would be an insult to the ancestors.
In its report, the panel said it had agreed that reforms were needed to the Ingonyama Trust.
“Either the Ingonyama Trust Act must be repealed and the Trust disbanded entirely, or land governance must be devolved to the local level, with rights vested in occupiers and governance functions resting with Traditional Councils,” the report reads.
Another report released in November 2017 titled the “High-Level Panel on the Assessment of Key Legislation and the Acceleration of Fundamental Change” has fuelled the debate surrounding the Trust.
The 600-page report did not only address land but made recommendations on all legislation adopted since the ANC came into power.
Led by former president Kgalema Motlanthe, the sections dealing with land recommended that, “the Ingonyama Trust Act be repealed, or substantially amended, to protect existing customary land rights”.
Meanwhile, the presidential advisory panel also said that there were five laws in the country which affected communal land tenure and governance.
These laws are the Traditional and Khoi-San Leadership Bill, the Traditional Leadership Governance Framework Amendment Bill, Indigenous Knowledge Bill, Communal Property Associations Amendment Bill, and Traditional Courts Bill.
The panel said these laws “are inconsistent with one another, irrational and possibly unconstitutional”.
“Although there is a view that these laws individually and collectively entrench the Bantustans by removing the right to equal citizenship in a unitary state, violating the principle of free, prior and informed consent, and reinforcing the powers of traditional authorities over customary and family land and resource rights.
“It is, therefore, crucial that government consults and engages directly, widely, meaningfully and adequately with rural communities and inhabitants of the former ‘Bantustans’ whose lived experiences and relationship and interaction between land, culture and heritage must inform government policy.
“Government must resist the temptation of being paternalistic and imposing notions of life and reality only through the eyes of western dominant culture. The panel, therefore, calls on the State to embark of the above-mentioned drive directly with the communities involved, prior to signing the Bills into law, pending clarity on traditional governance and communal land rights in the new White Paper.”
The panel further urged the government to begin “drafting permanent statutory protection, in a Protection of Informal Land Rights Bill, which will clarify the substantive forms and procedural safeguards for informal and customary land rights”.
“This must provide statutory recognition of informal and customary land rights as constituting real property rights – registered or not,” the report reads.
(Compiled by Makhosandile Zulu. Additional reporting, African News Agency)