Use my land, says king

2019-06-28 16:34
A young woman walks past the police guard of honour at the official opening of the KwaZulu-Natal legislature on Thursday.

A young woman walks past the police guard of honour at the official opening of the KwaZulu-Natal legislature on Thursday.

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Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini, who has been at loggerheads with government over proposed plans to transfer land under his control to the state, on Thursday invited government to use his land for agriculture.

Speaking during the opening of the KZN provincial legislature, Zwelithini said he would embrace government’s agricultural programmes, which are meant to boost the economy and ensure food security.

“One of the things we have in abundance here in KZN is land, most of which is under the control of the Ingonyama Trust. “According to available figures, we have 6,5 million hectares of land which is ready to be used for agricultural purposes,” he said.

It was unacceptable that despite being endowed with large tracts of land, KZN has not be able to exploit its natural resources to grow the economy and fight poverty, he added.

“The 2018 export figures tell us that out of almost $10,5 billion of exports in agricultural products, over 32% was exported to African countries. And we know South African is the second biggest producer of citrus fruits in the whole world.

“But the question still remains where is KwaZulu-Natal in all of this is? Do people who are in power know how to ensure that KwaZulu-Natal farmers and people benefit?” he asked.

The government has set aside billions of rands to develop agri hubs across the country as part of efforts to boost the economy and create jobs.

Zwelithini called on government to ensure that rural communities were part of agricultural programmes aimed at unleashing the province’s economic potential.

“Our communities have been degraded to the status of food purchasers rather than food producers.

“We therefore remain with a huge challenge of bringing back the dignity and pride of the citizens by assisting them to improve their agricultural production, especially in the area of food crops,” he said.

King Goodwill Zwelithini at the opening ceremony.

Last year a panel led by former deputy president Kgalema Motlanthe recommended the dissolution of the Ingonyama Trust so that land under the entity could be transferred to individual households currently living on the land. People on trust land are not able to get title deeds.

Zwelithini, who has rejected the panel’s recommendations, did not touch on the contentious issue yesterday, confining his speech to agricultural development.

“Much as I have said what I have said, the real thrust for rural development should be the establishment of rural-based industries.

“These should be industries that are not simply imposed on rural people by government but should be developed together with the people in rural areas,” he said.

The provincial government, Zwelithini said, should urgently arrange a meeting with traditional leaders on how tribal land could be used for economic development.

“If we are really serious about seeing this province succeed then we all have no option but to co-operate. As head of the traditional leadership in the province I’m ready to mobilise traditional leaders and the Ingonyama Trust Board so that we can sit around the table with government to chart the way forward,” he said.

Zwelithini’s trust could lose control of tribal land should the National Assembly resolve to approve the panel’s recommendations.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  king zwelithini

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