Cyril Ramaphosa bends the knee to Zulu king on tense land issue

President 'distanced himself' from report on contentious trust

08 July 2018 - 00:05 By SIBONGAKONKE SHOBA and BONGANI MTHETHWA

President Cyril Ramaphosa bowed to pressure from King Goodwill Zwelithini by assuring him that the ANC government has no intention of expropriating land under the control of the Ingonyama Trust.
During a hastily arranged meeting with the Zulu king in Richards Bay on Friday night, Ramaphosa also distanced the government from the high-level panel report that recommended the trust be scrapped.
Ramaphosa shared details of the meeting with ANC supporters in KwaDukuza during the launch of the Thuma Mina campaign yesterday.
"I said to the king as the ANC we have no intention whatsoever to ever touch the land under the Ingonyama Trust. The recommendation by the high-level panel [remains] a recommendation of the panel ... we are not going to dissolve the trust.
"I said, with respect, as the ANC government we have no such intention ... the expropriation of land without compensation is not targeting the 13% of land under the control of traditional leaders.
"Communal land is going to continue to be under the control of traditional leaders because they hold that land on behalf of our people. The land we are going to target for expropriation is the 87% of the land. We are going to do so within the confines of our laws and constitution," said Ramaphosa.
This comes after King Zwelithini threatened, at an imbizo on Wednesday, to push for KwaZulu-Natal to secede should the government implement the panel's recommendations.The king remains very influential in KwaZulu-Natal. For his upkeep, the ANC-run provincial government has allocated R65.8-million in this financial year.
The high-level panel, chaired by former president Kgalema Motlanthe, was appointed to review laws adopted by parliament since 1994. After consulting communities, the panel recommended that the Ingonyama Trust Act be repealed or "substantial amendments be made".
Parliament is conducting hearings on whether section 25 of the constitution should be amended to allow the state to expropriate land without compensation.
Friday's meeting was also attended by IFP president Mangosuthu Buthelezi and ANC provincial task team convener Mike Mabuyakhulu.
Former judge Jerome Ngwenya, the chairman of the Ingonyama Trust board, confirmed Ramaphosa's version of the meeting.
"The president advised the king that there is no intention of government to tamper with the land under the Ingonyama Trust.
"He also assured the king that the high-level report is not the position of government and has not been adopted as government policy. The king appreciated what the president said."
Ngwenya said because the meeting was called at short notice a "structured" meeting would be held soon where both parties would come prepared.
Mabuyakhulu described the mood at the meeting as cordial. "The relationship between the president and the king is very warm. It's a relationship of mutual respect."
Motlanthe's report has created tensions in KwaZulu-Natal, with the king mobilising his subjects to push back against any move to dissolve the trust. At Wednesday's imbizo, the ANC came under fire from several speakers, and the king himself.Former KwaZulu-Natal premier and member of the ANC national working committee Senzo Mchunu told the Sunday Times the party was opposed to any rhetoric that sought to incite communities.
"We are cautioning against unnecessary and inflammatory statements that are not conducive to peace. The land debate must move without any political populism of any kind."
Mchunu said there was a need to inform the public that the Motlanthe report and the hearings on the expropriation of land without compensation were separate matters.
"Comrade Kgalema has expressed a view, it shouldn't be confused as the ANC having come to a conclusion.
"Anyone who raised matters of the Ingonyama Trust, that should not been seen as an attack on Isilo [the king] ... whatever conclusion we reach, it will have nothing to do with taking land from Zulu people. I want to assure Zulu people that there is no war that they should prepare for."
He said the propaganda that was being spread in KwaZulu-Natal was similar to the false narrative fed to citizens before 1994. "We should not go back to the time when our people were told that if you join the ANC, you are joining people who are going to take away land and women from Zulus."

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