Traditional leaders act like village tin-pot dictators - Motlanthe

Former President Kgalema Motlanthe has urged the ANC to pay as much attention to land tenure rights in rural areas as it would in the urban areas.

He is one of the members of a task team assembled by President Cyril Ramaphosa to "clear existing confusion" on ANC’s position on the much-debated land question.

Motlanthe and Advocate Tembeka Ngcukaitobi presented their arguments on the issue of land at an ANC land summit, which was held in Boksburg on Saturday.

The former president spoke on some of the findings made during his time with a high-level parliamentary delegation that investigated whether or not government was implementing its own policies well.

He told the participants of his concerns over challenges experienced by village communities.

“The people had high hopes that the ANC would liberate them from the confines of the homelands system. Clearly now, we are the ones saying land must go to traditional leaders and not the people,” said Motlanthe.

The former leader told the story of the Zulu kingdom’s Ingonyama Trust, an act which was signed into being just three days before South Africa’s first democratic elections by the white Parliament. Motlanthe said this was primarily done to preserve the Zulu homeland, but in the process resulted in people living under the Umnini Trust being dispossessed and eventually being incorporated into the Ingonyama Trust. He raised concern over those who were removed from their land now having to lease land.

“People who have lived there for generations must pay the Ingonyama Trust Board R1000 rent which escalates yearly by 10%,” said Motlanthe.

READ: We won't be intimidated – Parliament slams Ingonyama Trust 'attacks'

The former leader, who lauded those who approached the high-level panel about their experiences in spite of being intimidated, said there were many looking at how the ANC resolved the land question.

“The approach which confronts us as the ANC, must really be to understand that the ANC enjoys support from the people, not traditional leaders, some pledge their support to the ANC. Majority of them are acting as village tin-pot dictators to the people there in the villages,” said Motlanthe.

In continuing his criticism of tribal leaders, he said it was rare to find ones who did not think they had a rightful claim to the land.

“What we heard from public hearings, with exception from the Eastern Cape… the only traditional leaders who understand they are the representatives of the people are traditional leaders of the Eastern Cape. Others call themselves beng mabu [owners of the land],” said Motlanthe.

The ANC resolved at its watershed 54th national elective congress in December to expropriate land without compensation.

A motion in this vain, which was tabled by the EFF was also passed in Parliament in February. A review panel has also been set up to look into the modalities of this.

Land hunger is an urban problem

Motlanthe said the issue of land hunger was not as prevalent in the rural areas as it was in the cities.

“The former homelands are already densely populated, that’s why redistribution is far more important than other rights,” he said.

He said the land hunger which was seen in urban areas had to be seen as “really low” hanging fruit, suggesting that the ANC government must release well-situated land with immediate effect.

“We must issue people in the urban areas with title deeds, those who have been paying rent in the townships should be given title deeds,” said Motlanthe.

“They will then have assets in their possession with immediate effect,” added the former president.

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