Ramaphosa endorsed oppression of rural KZN folks

President Cyril Ramaphosa.
President Cyril Ramaphosa.
Image: GCIS

I have written previously in the Sunday Times that there can be no successful land expropriation and redistribution without secured land tenure rights.

The recent uproar over the Ingonyama Trust has highlighted land rights issues, something which President Cyril Ramaphosa cares very little about.

The fundamental reason the high level panel, led by Kgalema Motlanthe, found that the trust ought to be dissolved and the Ingonyama Trust Act be repealed was that the trust tramples on the people's land rights.

The report states that while the trust is not meant to "undermine and abrogate" any custom land rights", the Ingonyama Trust in fact regarded itself as the "outright owner of land" and "therefore not subject to any duty to consult or to obtain community consent in dealing with the land."

To that end, witnessing the Zulu monarch, King Goodwill Zwelithini threatening fire and brimstone if the ANC government dared to lay its hands on the land under the Ingonyama Trust and Ramaphosa's reaction to the aforesaid left me repulsed.

The president went all out to appease the monarch, reportedly saying expropriation of land without compensation had no intention of targeting the 13% that is under the leaders of our people, as well as traditional leaders.

Ramaphosa said this in the face of the credible report, compiled and based on expert testimony and the testimony of close to 10000 people who attended public hearings.

His reaction to an all-embracing customary power, which excludes people's rights, is despite the fact that customary authority is regressive.

It cannot exist in a democratic dispensation, reason being it is authority "marked by force to an unusual degree", according to Mamdani Mahmood in Citizen and Subjects. Tribal authority is signified by forced labour, forced removals, forced marriages and so forth. In tribal authority, people have no rights.

In the first place, the formation of the Ingonyama Trust was very sinister. It was ushered by the then Inkatha Freedom Party-led KwaZulu homeland legislature on the eve of South Africa's liberation in 1994, as a way to circumvent the transfer of land under the homeland to the future national government.

The then ruling National Party allowed the enactment of the Ingonyama Trust Act as a compromise to encourage the IFP into participating in the first democratic elections. This was after the IFP threatened not to participate in the elections and to secede from the future democratic unitary South Africa.

Another issue the report raises is how the trust has tampered with the land rights of communities. As the report points out, before 1994 permission to occupy (PTO) certificates were issued in the homelands as part of land tenure.

These PTOs conferred - to the occupants of the land - rights to use the land for their sustenance on a practically permanent basis.

However, its annual reports show after 1994 the trust has, over the years, pursued a programme of converting the PTOs into lease agreements. The trust is further entitled to cancel the lease agreement for failure to pay rent.

All structures that have been built on the land will belong to the Ingonyama Trust when the lessee vacates the premises.

Above being disingenuous, both Zwelithini and Ramaphosa's responses amount to nothing because they do not address the pertinent issues the panel is raising in their call for the dissolution of the trust. Oppression under Africans is no less repulsive than oppression under apartheid rule.

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