Land is power for traditional leaders

Land is power for traditional leaders.
Land is power for traditional leaders.
Image: Stock

Many people were taken by surprise by Zulu King Zwelithini's reaction to the issue of expropriation of land without compensation.

I was brought up in rural areas and I wasn't completely shocked by his stance. Land is everything for traditional leaders. It makes them feel very important. It also brings them a lot of money and gifts.

In the former Transkei, it was common for someone in need of a site to build a house to give a bottle of brandy and other goodies to the chief in order to get a favourable decision.

It worked well every time. Traditional leaders would feel powerless without land. Sadly, they've also used that influence they have, due to land, to expel people considered undesirable.

The reason AbaThembu King Buyelekhaya Dalindyebo is in jail is because he abused his power and unleashed a reign of terror on his subjects.

Even though some traditional leaders have been quiet on the issue, it doesn't mean they agree with it.

Personally, I'm not sure what to think of it because the same government has allowed incompetence and corruption to go unpunished.

We have government officials who sell RDP houses. Before long, those corrupt officials would look for loopholes in the new system and start selling off pieces of land for profit.

Politicians speak as if all will be well once land is transferred to government, but experience has taught me otherwise.

My advice is that we will need to be very sensitive and take everyone who's likely to be affected into account.

Populism can't help us. We need calm heads now more than ever.

Richardson Mzaidume


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