Chiefs do a U-turn on land

2019-10-03 16:37
Chairman of the KZN provincial house of traditional leaders, Inkosi Phathisizwe Chiliza.

Chairman of the KZN provincial house of traditional leaders, Inkosi Phathisizwe Chiliza. (File)

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KZN traditional leaders who previously threatened to go to war if government tries to nationalise land under their control, have softened their position and said they are now open to “engagement”.

Inkosi Phathisizwe Chiliza, the chairperson of the KZN House of Traditional Leaders which held a media briefing in Durban on Wednesday, said they wanted to be part of the land reform debate.

“To this end, we have resolved to visit and consult with all local houses to ascertain the input of traditional leaders on how the land should be distributed and to whom. We have established a task team that will consult on behalf of the House on all land matters, whether it is the Ingonyama Trust land, state or private land,” he said.

Their position was in stark contrast to their previous threats of “bloodshed” if residents living on Ingonyama Trust land were given title deeds.

Chiliza said the previous stance was as a result of government’s failure to consult traditional leaders before decisions on tribal land were made.

“That is why we are saying that we as traditional leaders welcome President Cyril Ramaphosa’s decision to convene a land summit.

“As traditional leaders in KwaZulu-Natal, we have initiated a programme that will enable us to have a meaningful participation in this land summit. If we say that people in rural areas should have title deeds then we should also discuss the type of title deeds which they will get, given that we are talking about communal land here,” he said.

Established in 1994 through the Ingonyama Trust Act, the Ingonyama Trust controls close to 30% of the land in the province

A presidential expert advisory panel on land and agrarian reform has recommended that the Act should either be reviewed or repealed. Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini responded to the panel’s recommendation by threatening court action against “anyone” who attempts to “dispossess” traditional leaders of their land.

Chiliza said the king’s reaction was justifiable as neither he nor traditional leaders were consulted by members of the panel. “Of course the court would have asked the panel to bring forward proof showing that people who stand to be directly affected by the decision were consulted,” he said.

Apart from the land question, Chiliza said the traditional leaders, who held a two-day meeting this week, also reflected on gender-based violence currently gripping the country.

“As part of efforts to stem this sickening tide, as traditional leaders we have resolved to lead campaigns in all areas within the jurisdiction of traditional leaders with a view to raising awareness and imparting information in order to protect our people against gender-based violence,” he said.

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