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

2018-03-07 17:12
King Goodwill Zwelithini (Picture: AFP)

King Goodwill Zwelithini (Picture: AFP)

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Cape Town – Parliament is "gravely concerned" by what it deems "personal attacks" by the Ingonyama Trust on former president Kgalema Motlanthe, in his former capacity as chairperson of a high-level panel on key legislation.

Sole trustee Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini told the trust's board last month that he wanted to take the high-level panel's report – tabled in November last year – to the Constitutional Court over its recommendations.

The report recommended that the Ingonyama Trust Act be repealed or amended, and that the trust be dissolved. According to the report, the trust's current practices were inconsistent with the government's land policy, and did not secure land tenure for residents.

READ: King Goodwill calls on Zulus to join him in fight to save Ingonyama Trust

The KwaZulu-Natal House of Traditional Leaders last month also warned of bloodshed should the government go ahead with plans to remove rural land from under its control.

"Parliament is gravely concerned at the ongoing public castigations and personal attacks on... Motlanthe, and former panel member Dr Aninka Claassens, and the unwarranted threats regarding the panel's report and recommendations," a statement read on Wednesday.

"It must be stressed that the report's findings and recommendations are not personal opinions or wishes of panel members but were informed by the views of ordinary South Africans and various sectors.

"Parliament has a constitutional obligation to listen to and consider the views of all South Africans, not only influential and powerful organisations."

Benefits 'not going to residents'

The trust administers 2.8 million hectares of land on behalf of King Zwelithini.

Members of the public occupying trust land had complained that development was carried out without the consent of those living on the land, and the benefits went to the trust, not residents, Parliament said citing the report.

READ: Committee puts Ingonyama Trust's land lease plans on ice

Parliament's various committees and the speakers' forum must still debate the contents of the report.

"The trust's public posture on the report's proposals even before they are either considered by Parliament or ventilated with the public and stakeholders suggests an attempt to stifle debate and intimidate Parliament from carrying out its constitutional duties.

"It would be most unfortunate if this was the trust's intention, as it is not in the nature of the national legislature to bow to the bullying tactics of lobby groups or sectoral interests."

Parliament called on the trust to observe the parliamentary process on the report and take advantage of the consultation process when it is scheduled, "like all South Africans".

'Response is to traditional leaders, not the trust'

The chairperson of the trust's board, Judge Jerome Ngwenya, told News24 on Wednesday that the response should be directed to traditional leaders, not the trust itself.

If the king for instance, as the sole trustee of the Ingonyama Trust, has made public comments, then Parliament should be specific in its response, he said.

As for the king's calls for members of the Zulu nation to donate R5 each to fund the trust's court challenge, Ngwenya said the king was merely trying to avoid using taxpayers' money.

"The king does not want to use public funds. He wants people who support the claims to help, but if there are those who don't want to, that is fine too."

The trust would need some time to consider the statement in full before issuing a response.

Earlier on Wednesday, the Portfolio Committee on Rural Development and Land Reform halted the trust's plan to convert existing "permission to occupy" (PTO) certificates into leases for those occupying the trust's land.

Both ANC and opposition MPs said they were disappointed with the trust's preference to turn apartheid-era "PTOs" into leases instead of full ownership for rural people who have rights to the land.

Read more on:    goodwill zwelithini  |  ingonyama trust  |  land

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