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Monday, 05 February 2024 13:25

King Misuzulu wants Ingonyama Trust to be managed by Amakhosi.

By Lehlohonolo Lehana.

AmaZulu King Misuzulu kaZwelithini wants more governance powers of the Ingonyama Trust for Amakhosi rather than national government which appoints the board to oversee the trust.

Newly appointed AmaZulu Traditional Prime Minister Thulasizwe Butheleziel briefed the media in Durban on Monday on various issues affecting the Zulu royal family.

Buthelezi began engagements by addressing some outstanding issues facing the royal household.

Among them are the dates for the unveiling of statues for late AmaZulu kings, Goodwill Zwelithini kaBhekuzulu and Shaka kaSenzangakhona.

The Ingonyama Trust is responsible for 2.8 million hectares of land in the former homeland of KwaZulu-Natal, with King Misuzulu the sole trustee after succeeding his late father King Goodwill Zwelithini kaBhekuzulu as monarch.

The trust's board has been embroiled in legal battles over the ownership of the land, which generates around R90 million annually from the lease agreements.

Buthelezi said the royal family want Amakhosi (traditional leaders) to play a more significant and hands-on role in the governance of the Ingonyama Trust.

"Are Amakhosi that illiterate and incapable of running their own affairs that they must still report to a minister sitting in Cape Town about their own land inherited from their forefathers?

"Why must the land of the Zulu people be administered in Cape Town when Amakhosi have their own governance structures which are closer to the people and recognised in laws, such as the Provincial House of Traditional Leaders?"

"As the sole trustee of Ingonyama Trust, His Majesty holds the land in trust on behalf of the Zulu nation and His Majesty will do everything in his power to protect, preserve and develop the land for the benefit of the Zulu nation."

Buthelezi said King Misuzulu has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the National School of Government to train 200 Amakhosi, as part of preparations to take over the Ingonyama Trust.  

"The training will empower Amakhosi to act as economic change agents in their communities. Transferring new knowledge and skills on how to build sustainable economic rural interventions for long-term economic impact, and capacitating Amakhosi to create sustainable jobs and community wealth," he added.

The Ingonyama Trust was established in 1994 by the then KwaZulu Government to administer all land it held. It is a corporate entity and administers 2.8 million hectares of the land in KwaZulu-Natal. The territory was once administered by the erstwhile KwaZulu homeland. This followed a deal hammerred out ealier to entice the late prime minister Mangosuthu Buthelezi and his Inkatha Freedom Party to take part in the elections that ended apartheid. The province is a stronghold of the party.

Buthelezi and the then king wanted a federal South Africa, with KwaZulu being given autonomy and constitutional protection being guaranteed for the monarchy, and had walked out of negotiations — and the poll.

The Act was agreed to as part of the process of getting them back to the table and was signed into law by FW de Klerk, the last National Party president, on 25 April 1994.

Since then, the predominantly rural, traditionally controlled land falling under the trust has been administered by the ITB, set up in 1997 to act on its behalf.

The king is the sole trustee of the Ingonyama Trust, and appoints the ITB chairperson to act on his behalf. 

The rest of the board is appointed by the minister of agriculture, who funds the board to the tune of just over R20 million a year, in conjunction with the KwaZulu-Natal premier, the king, the house of traditional leaders in KwaZulu-Natal and the provincial cooperative governance and traditional affairs department.

The trust raises revenue from industrial, commercial and agricultural tenants, as well as from mining companies, with a percentage of the income meant to be allocated to traditional authorities for the benefit of the people living on the land.

The trust is plagued with disputes for not involving the community in its business transactions. There has been little evidence of collective benefit for the community.

The disputes expose unequal profit from trust assets, privileging a select few, instead of all the communal land holders equally. To sum up crisply: the trust has treated communal land like privately owned land.