Proposals by the presidential advisory panel on land reform and agriculture to scrap the Ingonyama Trust Board (ITB) have been backed by the chair of parliament’s agriculture and land reform portfolio committee, Mandla Mandlela.
The panel, appointed by President Cyril Rampahosa last year, recommended that the Ingonyama Trust Act — which was passed in 1994 to create the ITB to control almost three-million hectares of the former KwaZulu homeland on behalf of King Goodwill Zwelithini — be repealed.
The recommendations echo those of Parliament’s High Level Panel last year, which also called for the ITB to be scrapped, sparking a backlash from Zwelithini and traditional leaders in the province, who threatened anarchy should the recommendations be implemented.
The monarch is expected to use his address to the Umkhosi Wesivivane ceremony at Nongoma on Saturday to respond to the panel report, released on Sunday, while the IFP has rejected its findings outright.
The ITB, funded by the department of land agriculture and land reform, was set up on the eve of the 1994 elections to ensure the participation of Zwelithini and the IFP in the first democratic elections.
Mandela welcomed the panel report, saying that it would be discussed by the portfolio committee along with a legacy report handed over by previous committee when it sat again. “We must as a matter of urgency discuss communal tenure and underdevelopment of rural areas and undo the horrid legacy of marginalisation of women, the rural poor and communal farmers.”
He said issues around the ITB were “high on the agenda” and that the committee planned to travel to KwaZulu-Natal to “visit” the Board as part of its oversight work.
Mandela said the portfolio committee had a duty to look into the functioning of the ITB as it was funded by the department. “Where else is that budget being spent around other kings and queens who are recognised by the government of this country? We said we need to look into the operation of the ITB. If it is an ideal model, it should be replicated throughout the country with other kings and queens that are recognised. If it is a model that doesn’t work, we will have to look at how we rectify or rethink that.”
Prince Thulani Zulu, spokesperson for the monarch, referred all requests for comment to ITB chairperson Jerome Ngwenya, who did not respond to calls and messages at the time of writing.