King Goodwill wants his kingdom back

2014-07-06 15:01

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King Goodwill Zwelithini and KwaZulu-Natal’s traditional leaders want rights to the land that made up the entire Zulu Kingdom in what could be South Africa’s largest land claim.

The claim, which will run into billions of rands, will cover land that fell under the control of the Zulus at the time of colonial dispossession – a massive tract of urban and rural land including Durban, parts of the Eastern Cape, Mpumalanga and the Free State.

However, with the current cutoff date for claims under the Land Rights Amendment Bill set as 1913, the claimants may be forced to settle with a smaller tract, according to Judge Jerome Ngwenya, chair of the Ingonyama Trust, which will assist with the technical side of the claim.

Ngwenya said the claimants believed their claim would cover land taken from 1838 onwards, but even if it was from 1913, it would still be “very substantial”.

It would, for example, cover dispossession in terms of the Group Areas Act in the 1950s.

The monarch, Ngwenya said, wants the proceeds from the claims to be channelled into community development initiatives administered by the trust.

On Thursday Zwelithini and the province’s House of Traditional Leaders, which represents KwaZulu-Natal’s amakhosi (chiefs), met for a two-day workshop about the land claim process, which has been reopened for another five years with the enactment of the new land restitution law, the Land Rights Amendment Bill.

While the initial plan had been to discuss claims with amakhosi present at the event, funded by provincial government, agreement was reached that the province’s local houses of traditional leaders would be used to educate communities about the restitution process.

They would also assist in collating claims from each area into a single provincial claim, the size of which would be finalised at their next meeting with the monarch next month.

Ngwenya told City Press in an exclusive interview after the first day of the meeting that the claim would be “huge” and would run into billions of rands.

It would not focus on the rural land currently under the trust, but rather the land which fell under the control of Zulu people at the time of colonial dispossession.

“We need to get research up to date as to the extent of the land we are claiming, but from what we have gathered thus far it goes outside the boundaries of the province to the Eastern Cape, Free State and part of Mpumalanga.

“The land that is currently under the trust is the area that remained after dispossession.

“We are not claiming that. For instance, the whole of Durban was part of this Zulu land. That is what we are looking for, what was Zulu land,” Ngwenya said.

Ngwenya said, however, that in cases where expropriation of land was not feasible, “royalties or financial compensation”, which would then be administered by the trust, would be satisfactory.

“While we are claiming as much land as we can demonstrate belonged to the Zulu Kingdom.

“We are not looking at dispossession and uprooting people. His Majesty has made this clear.

“Where restitution is no longer feasible, there must be an alternative in the form of royalties or financial compensation,” said Ngwenya.

Following this week’s meeting, at which amakhosi were meant to be briefed on the restitution process but weren’t because of time constraints, traditional leaders decided they would brief communities using each local House.

They would also distribute copies of the monarch’s speech and that of Premier Senzo Mchunu, who also addressed the summit.

Next month the trust would convene a similar summit to be addressed by Rural Development and Land Reform Minister Gugile Nkwinti on how the process would work.

Thereafter, work will start on the claim in earnest, with a deadline set for submission by the end of March 2015.

Mchunu, in his address, called on communities and amakhosi to “unite” and ensure the claims did not create another set of resources over which people would fight.

Zwelithini urged amakhosi to work with him on a single claim to ensure there was no conflict over the process as had been the case in the past.

Sandy la Marque, CEO of the KwaZulu-Natal Agricultural Union, said the body was “concerned” about any further threat to the confidence of investors in the sector who had already been put off by 16 years of unresolved land claims.

“We are very concerned about current and future investment by all stakeholders in the agricultural sector. It really is of concern to us about how this will be managed. For 16 years people have been sitting with unresolved land claims with no communication from government.

“This vacuum of information and understanding of where claims are has strained relations in the sector,’’ she said.

They would also assist in collating claims from each area into a single provincial claim, the size of which would be finalised at their next meeting with the monarch next month.

Ngwenya told City Press in an exclusive interview after the first day of the meeting that the claim would be “huge” and would run into billions of rands.

It would not focus on the rural land currently under the trust, but rather the land which fell under the control of Zulu people at the time of colonial dispossession.

“We need to get research up to date as to the extent of the land we are claiming, but from what we have gathered thus far it goes outside the boundaries of the province to the Eastern Cape, Free State and part of Mpumalanga. The land that is currently under the trust is the area that remained after dispossession.

“We are not claiming that. For instance, the whole of Durban was part of this Zulu land. That is what we are looking for, what was Zulu land,” Ngwenya said.

Ngwenya said, however, that in cases where expropriation of land was not feasible, “royalties or financial compensation”, which would then be administered by the trust, would be satisfactory.

“While we are claiming as much land as we can demonstrate belonged to the Zulu Kingdom. We are not looking at dispossession and uprooting people. His Majesty has made this clear.

“Where restitution is no longer feasible, there must be an alternative in the form of royalties or financial compensation,” said Ngwenya.

Following this week’s meeting, at which amakhosi were meant to be briefed on the restitution process but weren’t because of time constraints, traditional leaders decided they would brief communities using each local House.

They would also distribute copies of the monarch’s speech and that of Premier Senzo Mchunu, who also addressed the summit.

Next month the trust would convene a similar summit to be addressed by Rural Development and Land Reform Minister Gugile Nkwinti on how the process would work.

Thereafter, work will start on the claim in earnest, with a deadline set for submission by the end of March 2015.

Mchunu, in his address, called on communities and amakhosi to “unite” and ensure the claims did not create another set of resources over which people would fight.

Zwelithini urged amakhosi to work with him on a single claim to ensure there was not conflict over the process as had been the case in the past.

Sandy la Marque, CEO of the KwaZulu-Natal Agricultural Union, said the body was “concerned” about any further threat to the confidence of investors in the sector who had already been put off by 16 years of unresolved land claims.

“We are very concerned about current and future investment by all stakeholders in the agricultural sector. It really is of concern to us about how this will be managed. For 16 years people have been sitting with unresolved land claims with no communication from government.

“This vacuum of information and understanding of where claims are has strained relations in the sector,’’ she said.

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