Ingonyama Act unconstitutional

2013-06-23 14:00

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Legislation discriminates against black African people in KZN

Mary de Haas


In reporting on the issue of the monthly lease given to the president’s Nkandla home by the Ingonyama Trust, Sabelo Ndlangisa correctly points to the crucial importance of giving rural residents the security of tenure on traditional land they currently lack, at least in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN).

The situation in KZN is somewhat different from that in other former homelands in that the Ingonyama Trust Act, in essence, privatises the land in the hands of the Zulu king.

The land is administered through the trust, but there has been a history of lack of transparency about decisions taken, including about the issuing of leases over occupied land.

In the early 2000s, residents of Mbazwana (in the far north of KZN) learnt that the local traditional leader had been given a lease to run a private game lodge.

This lease led to them being forcibly evicted from their ancestral land, which was then fenced off. No action was taken by the trust, but community members fought back and, with the help of the courts, eventually moved back to their homes.

More recently, a lease was given for land just north of the uThukela River to the local community represented by its traditional leader.

However, this land had been awarded to people who had been removed from nearby Mangete in the 1970s, so it should not fall under the leader.

Since the rightful owners and occupiers have succeeded in having the same leader and his associates removed from a trust set up by the Land Claims Commission (because of maladministration), he is unlikely to share the commercial benefits of the lease with them.

The Ingonyama Trust Act seems clearly unconstitutional, since it discriminates against black African people in KZN and residents of other former homelands.

Presumably, the government has not done away with it because it serves some political purpose of its own.

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