Does KZN need a new rural bank?

2012-05-03 00:00

THE Ithala Bank was reminded of its founding values at yesterday’s Ingonyama Rural Development Forum meeting.

Judge Jerome Ngwenya, deputy chairperson of the Ingonyama Trust Board, told group executive Yvonne Zwane the institution had lost direction.

Forgetting to advance development in rural areas, it had wanted to rather “play with the big boys”, he said.

“You decided to forget about serving the interest of people occupying three million hectares of land under the leadership of amakhosi,” Ngwenya told her, stressing that they were supposed to have been Ithala’s target market.

Zwane pleaded with Zulu monarch King Goodwill Zwelithini not to start another rural development bank, after he had made the call for one at the meeting.

“Ithala belongs to you and the people of KwaZulu-Natal, Your Majesty,” she said.

“We have been in existence for 52 years and in these years we have had ups and downs as a bank. If we have erred, please forgive us and we can find a way to work this out.”

Lobbying for the new bank, the king lamented that 18 years into democracy, rural areas in his kingdom remained underdeveloped.

“Even the banks do not cater for people living in the rural areas,” he said.

He said it had become a curse for his people raised and brought up in rural areas because banks did not recognise them as having assets against which they could take out loans.

This was because they did not have title deeds as the land belonged to Ingonyama Trust Board.

“A person can have big strip of land, but his loan application will be turned down because banks don’t even recognise the lease provided for by Ingonyama Trust; hence the need to form a rural development bank,” said the king.

He said he had told amakhosi and izinduna (headmen) at a meeting in kwaNongoma about his vision to start up a rural development bank and asked local families to donate two cows for which he would provide bulls.

“Within 15 minutes of my presentation 63 cows were collected,” said Zwelithini.

“If amakhosi can heed this call in other parts of the province, then KwaZulu-Natal will change the conditions faced by my children in the rural areas,” he said.

The king said the Afrikaner community had formed Volkskas Bank, which thrived on cattle.

If the Zulu nation could follow suit, it could change the lives of the rural people because there was a shortage of red meat in the country.

“In the past three months, since I announced the formation of the Rural Development Forum, we have established the secretariat, which is tasked to deal with conducting the daily work of the forum,” he said.

“The secretariat has experts to establish programmes, research and training.”

The king said it was time for people in rural KwaZulu-Natal to being productive in agricultural products in order to end the tendency to import produce.

He said the Ingonyama Trust Board was in partnership with the Office of the Premier, Ithala Bank and the Institute for Rural Development and Community Engagement.

“Amakhosi must be the drivers of economic development in the rural areas because they are champions in those areas, working with all relevant stakeholders,” the king said.

The Rural Development Forum ends today and a document will be made available to the public on May 25 outlining its resolutions.

• thobani.ngqulunga@witness.co.za

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