Resisting plans to transfer land under the Ingonyama Trust to the State for redistribution is no different from defending apartheid and its legacy, leading experts participating in a debated hosted by The Witness agreed.The experts, whose background ranged from politics to culture, told scores of people who had converged at the Pietermaritzburg City Hall where the debate was held that the Ingonyama Trust Act that created the trust undermined both traditional leaders and subjects alike.“This whole arrangement around the current traditional leadership system was created by colonisers. “The traditional leadership system that we have today is not the original Zulu traditional leadership that existed before the arrival of white people, who dismantled it and put in place a system that is not consistent with Zulu culture and customs,” said cultural heritage researcher and author Musa Xulu.The current land which is being controlled by the trust, Xulu said, was not the original land of the Zulus, who were dispossessed by the settlers.“The land under the trust is barren land where blacks were dumped after the settlers had driven them out of their fertile land. “You can’t have a situation where people are fighting to control barren land,” he said.Political analyst Xolani Dube told the audience that fighting for the “so called” land of the Zulus was no different from fighting for the establishment of a “nation within a nation” .“The land that we have in this country belongs to the nation, we can’t have land that is said to belong to a trust. We can’t have a law that says land should belong to a particular tribe,” he said.Sithandiwe Yeni, who conducted several studies on the issue of land, said she had come across several incidents where people living on the trust’s land were forcibly removed from their homes to make way for mining companies who signed lease agreements with chiefs behind the community’s back.“Despite the fact that the laws do not allow chiefs to sign lease agreements without the consent of people living in the land in question, the laws often gets overlooked by those who are supposed to observe them,” she said.Nomagugu Ngobese, an indigenous knowledge expert, said while she was in favour of a system where traditional leaders retained control of the land, the Ingonyama Trust Act was not the answer.“The act was not written by people from here, it was created by people who know nothing about Zulu culture and customs. The fact of the matter is that the act undermines the role and powers of traditional leaders themselves,” she said.The Witness editor Yves Vanderhaeghen said the main purpose of the debate was to clarify issues that are often misunderstood.“It is to open discussion, and to ventilate issues beyond what we already do in the pages of The Witness,” he said.A high level panel, led by former president Kgalema Motlanthe, has recommended that the act should either be repealed or amended.Vanderhaeghen said opening the matter for debate was crucial.“This is important because at the moment there is some confusion not only about the recommendations and their merits, but about the process,” he said.