King MisuZulu pushes for independence of Ingonyama Trust

AmaZulu King MisuZulu kaZwelithini is in favour of giving the contentious Ingonyama Trust autonomous status, which would give it the exclusive authority to oversee its finances and assets.

“His Majesty wishes to see amakhosi [chiefs] play a more significant and hands-on role in the governance of the Ingonyama Trust,” said Thulasizwe Buthelezi, the newly appointed AmaZulu traditional prime minister.

“As such, His Majesty has embarked upon wide consultation as to whether it is still necessary and ideal for Ingonyama Trust to be under the auspices of the minister of agriculture, land reform, and rural development — 30 years into democracy.”

On the eve of the first democratic elections in 1994, Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi, the late founder of the IFP, spearheaded negotiations that produced the Ingonyama Trust.

The IFP had threatened to boycott the elections if there was no guarantee that amakhosi would retain control over sizable portions of land that had been under the KwaZulu government.

Sole trustee of Ingonyama Trust

The AmaZulu King is the only trustee of the Ingonyama Trust, which oversees about 3-million hectares of land.

On the land of their own ancestors, Buthelezi, who is also the IFP mayor of Zululand district, said it was disturbing and fundamentally flawed that the government had to dictate to the traditional leaders on the land of their forefathers.

“Why must the land of the Zulu people be administered in Cape Town when amakhosi have their own governance structures that are closer to the people and recognised by law, such as the provincial house of traditional leaders?

“As the sole trustee of the Ingonyama Trust, His Majesty holds the land in trust on behalf of the Zulu Nation, and His Majesty will do everything in his power to protect, preserve, and develop the land for the benefit of the Zulu nation,” said Buthelezi.

Accountable to government

In order to decide which action to take to guarantee that the government no longer has any say in their territory, King MisuZulu will begin consulting with his subjects and other relevant parties.

The entity is currently accountable to Thoko Didiza, the Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform, and Rural Development. It is also allocated an annual budget.

Additionally, the millions of rands that this entity has in its coffers from signing lease agreements with different government departments and private businesses make it a highly sought-after commodity.

Royalties from mining companies

The Ingonyama Trust also collects royalties from mining companies that operate in various rural towns in KwaZulu-Natal.

Due to the entity’s strategic importance, the late Buthelezi and the king disagreed on who ought to be the board chairperson and leader of the Ingonyama Trust.

While MisuZulu wanted his close ally Inkosi Thanduyise Mzimela to take over, Buthelezi had preferred his longtime confidante and retired judge, Jerome Ngwenya.

Ngwenya has been in charge since the Ingonyama Trust was established in the early 2000s.

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