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‘State won’t rush to scrap Ingonyama’ – Panel found act violates rights of citizens

The Mercury

20 Dec 2019

SIVIWE FEKETHA

Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development, Thoko Didiza, briefs the media on the recommendations of the Presidential Advisory Panel on Land Reform and Agriculture at Tshedimosetso House in Pretoria.

LAND Reform and Rural Development Minister Thoko Didiza has indicated that the government will not rush into repealing the Ingonyama Trust Act, despite growing calls.

This comes after the Presidential Advisory Panel on Land Reform and Agriculture recommended that the government review and possibly abolish the Ingonyama Trust under Zulu monarch King Goodwill Zwelithini as it violated the rights of citizens.

The report was handed to President Cyril Ramaphosa in July, but the government is reluctant to act on the recommendation.

The report accused the trust of infringing on the rights and land tenure security of communities under its jurisdiction despite the Ingonyama Trust Act’s provisions stating that the land would be administered for their material welfare and social wellbeing.

“The Ingonyama Trust has unilaterally assumed the role of a landowner by converting the people’s permission to occupy certificates (PTOs), to leases and charging them escalating rentals for occupying the same land on which they had lived for many generations,” the report says.

Briefing the media yesterday, Didiza said that while the government wanted to restore the land rights of citizens, this would be done as part of the broader addressing of security tenure in communal and rural areas under traditional leaders.

“The view of the government is that the issue of the Ingonyama Trust actually falls in the broad scope of tenure reform in South Africa which is not yet concluded and therefore it will be dealt with in that category,” Didiza said.

In 2017, the High Level Panel on SA legislation led by former president Kgalema Motlanthe also called for the scrapping of the Ingonyama Trust Act to ensure security of tenure for citizens under the trust.

Didiza admitted that government did not yet have definite positions on tenure reform for the country and that it was still stuck with choosing between going for a unilateral tenure system, which was “free hold and title”, or keeping a multiplicity of tenure systems.

“In the current moment you have a dispensation ‘free hold and title’ where people can hold their land in their name and right, but rural South Africans are still governed under a multiplicity of legislation which puts the minister of Land Affairs as the custodian or trusteeship of their land, and they are not holding them in their name and right, and that is the issue that is immediate and must be addressed,” she said.

Of the 73 recommendations of the panel, Didiza said 60 had been endorsed by the Cabinet, and departments had been instructed to incorporate them into their programmes of action and report periodically on progress. Nine of the recommendations were rejected by Cabinet, including calls by the panel for the land reform project to be informed by an agreed vision on agrarian reform.

Didiza said the recommendation undermined other important needs that had to be catered for by land reform, including housing.

“Land reform will cover agrarian reform, human settlements and land for industrial development. It does not talk to agriculture alone but to a variety of needs and what South Africans would like to acquire,” she said.