‘Sobering account of KZN’s land reform policy’ exposed
The Ingonyama Trust and the amakhosi are the sole beneficiaries of the approximately 2.8 million hectares of KwaZulu-Natal land they control.
These were the sentiments of Barrister Tembeka Ngcukaitobi SC in response to questions and remarks on land restoration issues at the Dr Phyllis Naidoo Memorial Lecture at UKZNs MH Joosub Hall, Westville Campus last week.
Naidoo, teacher, lawyer and author of numerous books died in 2013.
Ngcukaitobi was the keynote speaker at the event under the theme: “Why land reform has failed in South Africa and what can be done about it”.
Ngcukaitobi’s remark was in response to a remark and question raised by Dante Mashile of the KZN Prime Minister’s Office regarding the Royal Bafokeng’s attempt to ensure that communal ownership of land benefits its communities.
“What you have shared with us here is a sobering account of the land reform policy our state has attempted to implement.
“I want to check with you [Ngcukaitobi] in terms of the state of Royal Bafokeng’s attempt to put communal ownership of land at the centre, but more so to use the asset for what we will call a transfer principle in terms of community benefits and juxtaposition with Ingonyama Trust here in KZN where we don’t see the actual transfer of benefits [from the land] whether financial or non-financial, to the communities concerned. I just want to hear your opinion on how you see this and in the context of empowering rural communities,” Mashile remarked.
Ngcukaitobi was cautious in responding to the remarks, but his analysis was nonetheless penetrating.
My goal has been to try and find the problem and call it what it is, not sugarcoat it. It is therefore true that we are confronted with the world capitalist order which wishes to constrain not only agrarian reform, but a global economic policy. processing system in South Africa. I am very skeptical of this arrangement from Ingonyama Trust.
He said people should understand the [Theophilus] Shepstone system and compare it with the Ingonyama Trust.
I mean the Shepstone model was simple, [it was] the localization model. The guy comes here in 1845/46 and then he decides what to do with the land occupied by the natives. They decided that the way to make the system is to control it indirectly, to appoint leaders who will answer to the government.
Theophilus Shepstone was appointed Native Secretary of Natal in 1856. The location of Sweetwaters was the first of several tribal reservations established by him.
Ngcukaitobi said what the Shepstone system had done was disrupt traditional patterns of agricultural production and replaced independent control of land with political control, resulting in a ‘major’ colonial disruption of indigenous independent means of production. .
This Shepstone model of indirect rule, all of its essential foundations are found in the Ingonyama Trust Act. Its foundations are that the people own no land, property is concentrated in a system of guardianship under a chief. The chief reports to the government. This is the foundation of the Shepstone guardianship system. It has been around since Natal’s Native Administration Act was passed in 1875 and was later extended to apply nationwide in 1927 when South Africa’s Native Administration Act was passed and then revived in 1993 in under the Ingonyama Trust Act.
Ngcukaitobi said the British had no land to give Indian immigrants, a promise they made when they brought them to Natal to work there.
He said the only way the British had to fulfill their promise was to take land from the indigenous peoples of the area – the Zulu nation.
He said the Freedom Charter did not envision the end of private property as such. His concern was racialized private property. That remained the policy for decades of liberation, he said.
“In the early 1990s, an opportunity arose for a negotiated settlement in South Africa. The ANC has adopted its own bill of rights titled: A Bill of Rights for a Democratic South Africa. Like his predecessors, he retained the right to acquire and own private property regardless of race. The ANC’s draft bill of rights did not mention land expropriation.
“But it was intended to give the state generic powers to ‘take steps to overcome the effects’ of property discrimination. There was great confusion about how to undo the effects of land dispossession. A document produced during the ANC’s first year in power, the Reconstruction and Development Program (RDP) contained the clearest and most comprehensive vision for the future. In the chapter dealing with land, he recognized the fundamental truth about the limits of the market and the law in land redress. The trick of apartheid was to superimpose free market ideas on a fundamentally unjust land system. Apartheid created a thriving land market,” he said.
Ingonyama Trust chairman Jerome Ngwenya said they weren’t invited to the event, so he couldn’t comment.
“I will have to go through the transcript in order to make an informed comment on the matter, as it appears to touch on various issues,” he said.