Trade union federation Cosatu in KwaZulu-Natal wants people who live on land controlled by the Ingonyama Trust to be given individual land tenure rights.
Cosatu, which elected new provincial leaders last weekend, “strongly believes” the “sensitive” issue has to be resolved and that “every person needs to have the right to own their piece of land”.
This comes as Parliament prepares to hold hearings on land reform legislation in KwaZulu-Natal next week, with new threats of legal action to prevent changes that will strip King Goodwill Zwelithini of control of almost three million hectares of land.
On Monday, Parliament’s portfolio committee on land reform and rural development will hear public inputs on the Restitution of Land Rights Amendment Bill in Ulundi in Zululand, and a second hearing is scheduled for Port Shepstone on the South Coast the following day.
Earlier in the week, Judge Jerome Ngwenya, the chairperson of the Ingonyama Trust Board, which administers the land on the king’s behalf, told Independent Newspapers that he had written to President Cyril Ramaphosa requesting a meeting to discuss plans to scrap the trust.
Ngwenya also said the king’s plan to challenge any move to close down the trust in court was still on track, as was the collecting of R5 upwards from each of his “subjects” to fund the case.
The monarch has been vocal about proposals by Parliament’s high-level panel on legislative obstacles to improving quality of life, chaired by former president Kgalema Motlanthe, aimed at giving security of land tenure to people who live on land under tribal control.
All such land in KwaZulu-Natal falls under the Ingonyama Trust, of which the king is the sole trustee. The trust was set up in 1994 and gave the monarch and the Ingonyama Trust Board control of all land that fell under the former KwaZulu Bantustan.
The Restitution of Land Rights Amendment Bill was recently introduced by the ANC to amend the Restitution Act of 1994, including changing the cutoff date for land claims. It is now in the public consultation stage.
Cosatu in KwaZulu-Natal has now weighed in on the issue with its new leadership, which was given a mandate to ensure that security of tenure would be extended to people who live on trust land.
“At the end of the day, we need to ensure that people have the right to own their piece of land, no matter where it is. In the case of KwaZulu-Natal there are sensitivities, but we need to engage on how do we ensure, when we say people must have ownership of land, that this happens,” said Cosatu provincial chairperson Edwin Mkhize.
Cosatu would hold an extended provincial executive meeting to look at how to go about this, along with consulting all the other players involved, Mkhize said.
They would also have to look at the issue of “productive land” and who it really benefited, and at mechanisms to ensure that farmworkers’ rights to land were realised.