Ingonyama Trust says bill to address women’s access to land tenure shouldn’t apply to its land

King Goodwill Zwelithini addresses thousands of his subjects at an imbizo in Ulundi, 4 July 2018. The king called the imbizo to address the issue of communal land held under the Ingonyama Trust. Picture: ANA

The Trust is the biggest landowner in KwaZulu-Natal and the Zulu monarch Goodwill Zwelithini is the sole trustee.

The Ingonyama Trust wants a bill that aims to improve women’s access to land tenure not to apply to “traditional land”.

This, according to the trust’s board chairperson, Jerome Ngwenya, in his presentation to the Portfolio Committee on Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development’s hearing on the Upgrading of Land Tenure Rights Amendment (ULTRA) Bill on Tuesday.

The ULTRA Bill sought to address the unfair discrimination of women based on their gender to their right of tenure. These amendments followed a Constitutional Court ruling in the Rahube matter, where the Upgrading of Land Tenure Rights Act 112 of 1991 was successfully challenged on the basis that it violated women’s rights.

The apartheid-era law regulates the upgrading of land tenure rights to ownership, but it only recognised men as the head of the family and, thus the ownership was only granted to men.

Ngwenya said as it stood, the bill before the committee goes beyond the Constitutional Court ruling.

“Tribal land should not be part of this exercise,” he said. “It will do more harm than good.”

‘Complete overhaul’

He said the bill should only apply to urban land.

The trust was instituted in 1994, shortly before the first democratic election. It is the biggest landowner in KwaZulu-Natal and the Zulu monarch Goodwill Zwelithini is the sole trustee.

Chairperson of the National House of Traditional Leaders Sipho Mahlangu said the traditional leadership sector had become “quite progressive” to ensure women were treated equally and with respect, albeit that there were still some issues.

He said women-headed households were now granted land.

Wilmien Wicomb of the Legal Resources Centre said the amendments were very necessary to curb discrimination against black African women.

“But it is not sufficient,” she said.

She implored the committee to focus on a larger project of tenure reform.

“What we really need is the complete overhaul of the tenure system.”

The Constitutional Court gave Parliament until April 2021 to pass the legislative amendments.

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