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King Goodwill Zwelithini demands government assurances on Ingonyama Trust

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South African land belonging to the Zulu nation would not be expropriated by the national government, a confident Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini has told thousands of people attending the annual Shaka Day celebrations in the eastern port city of Durban.

Using his annual speech at the event on Sunday, 7 October 2018  – which marks the death of the Zulu nation’s most famous traditional and military leader Shaka – Zwelithini demanded that President Cyril Ramaphosa should not only visit him again, but guarantee that his Zulu nation’s Ingonyama Land Trust would not be targeted in the country’s much-debated land reform programme.

Ramaphosa’s previous visit in June 2018 caused a stir when he was accused of kneeling before the king at his official palace in Nongoma in Northern KwaZulu-Natal Province. Ramaphosa later explained he was in fact merely bending down to show the king a book on cattle.

Zwelithini has been particularly vocal about the current nation-wide debate on whether or not to change the Constitution to allow the state unfettered power to expropriate land without compensating the owner.

The Zulu king’s anger stems from recommendations made in a report called the “High-level panel on the assessment of key legislation and the acceleration of fundamental change”, chaired by former president Kgalema Motlanthe and released in November last year.

In the report, it was stated the Ingonyama Land Trust was likely unconstitutional and its existence should be reviewed in any land reform debate. It also questioned why the trust provided few services to those occupying the land, yet it generated funds in excess of R100 million (approximately US$6.7 million) from yearly rentals.

The trust owns about 29.67 percent of mostly deep rural land in KwaZulu-Natal Province, which covers an area of 94,361km². While Zwelithini is the sole trustee of the land, it is divided according to clans and overseen by traditional leaders.

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