The Land Reform Advisory Panel has recommended that the Ingonyama Trust Act be reviewed or possibly repealed. The panel has recommended that government immediately assume responsibility and custodianship of the trust’s land and administer it on behalf of its citizens.

The Ingonyama Trust Act led to the establishment of the trust which administers almost 3 million hectares of land, a third of the land in KwaZulu-Natal on behalf of King Goodwill Zwelithini, the sole trustee.  This was done just before the 1994 elections to persuade the AmaZulu monarch and the Inkatha Freedom Party to participate in the polls.

The panel says the act has allowed the perpetual existence of KwaZulu-Natal as a homeland in a unitary state, 25 years into a new democratic order.

It has also found many instances of lack of public accountability with regards to the finances of the Ingonyama Trust Board.

The report criticises the top-down imposition of a lease system on land that people already own. It is recommending that secure tenure rights be granted.  Professor Ruth Hall, Panellist of the Land Reform Advisory says the government must address the situation of the Ingonyama Trust.

“We further call on the government to urgently address the situation of the Ingonyama Trust and regularise the rights of occupiers in the former bantustand of KwaZulu-Natal so that they are equivalent to the rights and status of occupiers on other communal land. In the report we indicate that on the basis of our extensive consultations including the residents of the Ingonyama Trust, we recommend that either the Ingonyama Trust Act should be repealed and the trust disbanded entirely or the act must be reviewed and land governance should be dissolved to the local level,” said Hall.

This is not the first adverse finding against the Ingonyama Trust Act. Former President Kgalema Motlanthe‘s High-Level Panel in 2017, recommended that the trust be repealed.

This angered the AmaZulu King Goodwill Zwelithini and his backers.

He called an Imbizo in July last year where he made threats of secession and violence. Just before the elections President Cyril Ramaphosa met with the king and reportedly assured him that government would not touch the land under the trust.

The chairperson of the trust Judge Jerome Ngwenya is out of the country and was unable to comment.

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