Understanding The Ingonyama Trust: Power and Land in rural South Africa

Hands Off - that's the message loud and clear from the Ingonyama Trust, to anyone who assumes they have a mandate to investigate what is happening to people’s land rights, or how the Trust spends its money.

READ: Why is the iNgonyama Trust only being targeted now asks King Zwelithini

King Goodwill Zwelithini recently surrounded himself with amabutho (Zulu warriors) and intimated that violence or secession would follow unless threats to ‘the land of the Zulu nation’ were withdrawn.

The President hurriedly assured him that his land was safe. However, It is important to separate the theatre from the substance.

There is only one recommendation, among roughly a hundred other recommendations of the Motlanthe High-Level Panel report about a wide variety of laws.

The mandate of the Motlanthe High-Level Panel was to investigate the impact of post-1994 laws and to recommend amendments, repeals or new law where it found problems or gaps.

Also read: KZN Contralesa: If iNgonyama Trust is dissolved it will lead to violence

Parliament is still processing the recommendations of the panel. It has neither adopted nor rejected them and neither has the ruling party or government.

Speaking to Ray White about understanding the Ingonyama Trust, the land and power in rural South Africa, Director of the Land and Accountability Research Centre at UCT, Dr Aninka Claassens, says if the trust were administering the land in terms of its own trust act, there would really be a problem.

The Ingonyama Trust Act says that the Ingonyama is the trustee and he is the trustee in the same way as the Minister of Rural Development and Land Reform is the trustee for the land in other former homeland areas.

Dr Aninka Claassens, Director of the Land and Accountability Research Centre at UCT

But there are just normality trustees because people on the ground have got various kind of rights to the land, they have got customary ownership, they permission to occupy certificates, in quite a few areas they've got title deeds.

Dr Aninka Claassens, Director of the Land and Accountability Research Centre at UCT

So in a way, you have a whole system of land rights operating on the ground and you have a trustee who is meant to respect those rights and the problem here has been that the trust is acting as though it owns the land and it is actually leasing the land that people have got rights too.

Dr Aninka Claassens, Director of the Land and Accountability Research Centre at UCT

Listen below to the full interview:


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