ANC senior leaders such as Sbu Ndebele, Dr Zweli Mkhize, Sipho Gcabashe – even Jacob Zuma are better placed to provide leadership on this matter. All these leaders worked very closely with His Majesty since 1994. This my personal viewpoint and let us have a conversation.
FEW days ago, the social media was abuzz with a video clip showing IFP leader Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi crying during the Commemoration of the Battle of Isandlwana.
In this clip, Buthelezi is heard saying he never thought that one day he will depart from this earth leaving His Majesty, Isilo Samabandla facing such a huge challenge over the land.
Subsequently, there have been debates over the Ingonyama Trust regarding its role over the land and suggestions have been made that it should be abolished. This is now the bone of contention between Amakhosi and the African National Congress.
I have personally responded in various social media platforms where I have pointed out that this matter requires sober and solid leadership to manage, especially here in KwaZulu-Natal.
It is my fervent belief that a hit and run approach in terms of the implementation of the ANC resolution will create instability and tension that will take this province backwards. Please view the video clip below – one of many I have collected over the years when I was a freelance journalist.
The ANC has capable and solid leaders, who must be deployed as a matter of urgency to initiate processes to consult with His Majesty and other stakeholders.
Leaders must not be parachuted but should have a clear understanding of the function of the monarch, and what it took for the ANC led government in KZN to normalize relations with the institution of traditional leadership.
It should be senior leaders who have been an integral part of the management of the affairs of the Royal Household since the ANC ascended to power in this province in 2004.
I can mention for instance Sbu Ndebele, Dr Zweli Mkhize, Sipho Gcabashe and Cyril Xaba who was the first chair of the Royal Household Trust, working with the late Don Mkhwanazi and Judge Jerome Ngwenya as members of the trust.
One is also tempted to suggest that former ANC President Jacob Zuma should also be deployed to be part of this team to consult with His Majesty and traditional leaders. As first Provincial ANC Chairperson, Zuma’s understanding of the rural and urban divide enabled the ANC navigate the cultural environment and helped the expansion into rural traditional communities.
Zuma played a pivotal role in promoting peace and tolerance between IFP and ANC in this province. He built a strong culture of mutual respect and ability to work together.
He led bilateral meetings involving the two parties and calmed down a lot of conflict and brought sanity in the provincial legislature and various municipalities.
Through various peace initiatives and bilateral meetings between ANC and IFP the atmosphere of political intolerance was transformed to create a new spirit of open but peaceful competition and cooperation.
At long last we had meetings where the ANC and IFP leaders realised the blood letting and the violence was not only unnecessary, but the two parties belonged together and there may be better ways to resolve political differences.
These initiatives bore fruits and were strongly augmented by the call by the king Isilo SamaBandla who insisted on a non-partisan path, as well as the prayers and platforms created by the KwaZulu-Natal Clergy, led amongst others by Rev Dr Mgojo.
Fast forward to the issue of Ingonyama Trust , I should hasten to point out that I was fortunate to have been part of the team that worked on the reconfiguration of government departments that resulted in the establishment of the Department of Rural Development which was initially located in the Office of the Premier in 2009.
Dr Zweli Mkhize, former Provincial ANC Chair and former Premier took personal responsibility to handle this reconfiguration as it involved matters that relates to access to the land.
He was often in liaison with His Majesty and other stakeholders – and had confidential briefings with leaders of political parties and institution of leadership in general.
In dealing with delicate issues of rural development, in particular the involvement of the monarch, I came to understand that third of KZN’s total land cover is under the custodianship of the Ingonyama Trust land which is categorized as predominantly rural in context and which covers areas where high poverty levels prevail.
This area has poverty levels estimated to be as high as 49.5% and youth unemployment as high as 42%. What we concluded back in 2009, just after the State of the Province address where we announced the establishment of Rural Development Department, is that it was therefore imperative to channel new development opportunities to these relatively deprived and sometimes remote rural areas by opening access to land for development and to support rural communities to become active partners in the development of their land.
Between 2009 and 2013, Ingonyama Trust Board did a lot of work to delineate land belonging to various communities and had it accurately mapped on the Geographic Positioning System. This makes planning much easier even today.
There are towns and townships that are located in land under the control of Ingonyama Trust Board that need the municipality and Ingonyama Trust Board to align plans and fulfil their mandates and responsibilities laid down in law for the benefit of communities. In implementing the ANC resolution, serious consideration must be taken regarding this work I have just highlighted.
In some areas the expansion of the town or township happens in an area that is under the control of traditional leadership but no forum exists for the matters to be discussed and resolve differences. Serious mediation is required to ensure that these matters of development are resolved by Amakhosi and Mayors. There are gaps in the legislation to determine how matters of this nature should be resolved in case of conflict.
Naturally, as Isilo SamaBandla has indicated several times in various platforms, Amakhosi do feel that they are not consulted while municipalities feel they are under pressure to provide services.
Discussions between municipalities and Ingonyama Trust Board must be held on a regular and structured basis to facilitate rural development and resolve matters of rates and levies and the obligations that flow from such.
The ANC resolution will add to an already complicated situation hence I am emphasizing on the issue of solid and sober leadership to implement this resolution. This matter should not be differed as it very critical and very risky.
Having highlighted all these issues – my take is that we need political stability in KZN. This matter is of utmost importance and has a potential to create anarchy if not handled with care.
As I stated in January, forces against the national democratic revolution will hijack this land issue and play in the vacuum. Already, the Democratic Alliance has offered to protect His Majesty against the ANC as it was reported in various media platforms including Bayede Newspaper.
We must remember that KZN was once ravaged by the political violence that was sponsored by the apartheid regime. We had murders that were committed by apartheid agents and the vigilantes armed by apartheid covert operations.
The political intolerance orchestrated by warlords and agents of the apartheid operatives has been replaced by a peaceful province which is now the hub of social and economic development and a stable community of peace loving and democratically minded communities.
The most dangerous place of the eighties and nineties has been transformed into the peace haven and destination of choice for global investors and holiday makers from all of South Africa.
For the ANC in KwaZulu-Natal peace was both an objective and a strategy. The ANC had a mission to create a peaceful province as the objective. The ANC needed peace to grow as a party and to implement its resolutions adopted in conferences since its unbanning.
The ANC campaigned hard to eliminate no go zones and ensured that our system of governance is rid of rogue police elements that were perpetrators of violence. Warlords were retired.
With the issue of Ingonyama Trust and the land – we need to be extra careful so that there is no tension generated as a result of inability to consult adequately.
Importantly, time is not on our side: let all the political differences within the ANC be resolved quickly so as to focus on developing this province for future generations.
We cannot afford to regress as this province on matters of good governance but unfortunately political squabbles have a potential of setting us backward.