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Ingonyama Trust Act must be reviewed: Land report

King Goodwill Zwelithini. File photo.
King Goodwill Zwelithini. File photo.

The government has been handed a political hot potato by the presidential expert advisory panel on land and agrarian reform, which has recommended that the Ingonyama Trust Act either be reviewed or repealed.

Controversies around the Ingonyama Trust flared up after land expropriation without compensation became a policy position of the governing ANC, BusinessLIVE reports.

The Ingonyama Trust was established in 1994 to be the custodian of land that was previously administered by the KwaZulu-Natal government. It comprises 29.67% of the land in the province.

King Goodwill Zwelithini, who is the sole trustee, has previously said anyone who touches the Ingonyama Trust would be declaring war against the Zulu nation.

On Sunday the panel said deficiencies in the current structure did not allow for the democratic expression of the will of the people living on trust land.

The report said there were many instances of a lack of public accountability by the board regarding the finances of the trust and the top-down imposition of a lease system on land already owned by the people.

The panel recommended that the Ingonyama Trust Act be reviewed or possibly repealed, as the "act has perpetuated the existence of KwaZulu-Natal as a homeland within a unitary state 25 years into a new democratic order".

It was further recommended that the government should immediately assume responsibility and custodianship of the trust land and administer it on behalf of its citizens.

"This can be realised through appropriately constituted land boards," the panel recommended.

The third recommendation was that secure tenure rights had to be granted, as African people had a long history of "using their land to take care of their needs".

Rural development and land reform minister Thoko Didiza said the government would reflect on the recommendations and "will make its pronouncement in that regard".

The government is under no obligation to implement the recommendations of the advisory panel.

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