New Bill Aims To Move Land From Traditional Leaders To ‘The People’

Responding to questions in the National Assembly, Mabuza said in terms of customs, land under traditional leadership was, in fact, owned by the people. “[However], there are conflicting views [with some saying the land belongs to traditional leaders] … therefore, the government is seeking to address this issue in a way that brings certainty. The Communal Land Tenure Bill will ensure that.”

The bill, which was out for public comment until late in 2017, in the main provides for the transfer of communal land to communities; for conversion into ownership of land rights in communal land to communities that own or occupy such land; and for the transfer of ownership to communities and community members of land acquired by the state to enable access to land on an equitable basis.

The ANC resolved at its conference in December that traditional leaders should relinquish custodianship of the land held in trust by the government.

Former president Kgalema Motlanthe’s report of the high-level panel of assessment of key legislation of fundamental change recommended the disbandment of the Ingonyama Trust.

Traditional leaders in the area, including the King, have said they will oppose any attempts to disband the trust with some going as far as saying there will be bloodbath should government proceed with the plan. The Ingonyama Trust was established in 1994 to manage the land traditionally owned by the KwaZulu-Natal government. The trust owns close to 30% of the land in KwaZulu-Natal and the only trustee is King Goodwill Zwelithini.

Motlanthe’s report suggested that all the land under the trust’s administration should be surrendered to the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform, a process that would make equal distribution possible.

Mabuza also said during the question and answer session that expropriation without compensation was one of several options to restore land to people that were deprived under apartheid.

“You will know that it’s not only the land held in private hands [we are targeting]; we have land that is under state ownership … that land is going to be expropriated and will be given to the people …. These people must work the land and government will assist the people [with working] the land. That is going to happen. In all these efforts we will try very hard not to disrupt [agricultural] production.”