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KWAZULU-NATAL’S rural landscape looks set to change with plans for the development of vast tracts of undeveloped Ingonyama Trust land. King Goodwill Zwelithini, in his address at the opening of the legislature yesterday, announced the formation of the Ingonyama Rural Development Forum.
The monarch said the forum would be made up of an informal network of traditional leaders, experts, research institutions and policy makers. The aim of the group would be to look at ways of unlocking the potential of development on the tribal trust land.
Zwelithini acknowledged that most rural people lived on Ingonyama land. He is the chairperson of the trust and the land is administered by traditional leaders. An obstacle to development on the land was a lack of security of tenure. In the past land could be given to a recipient by the amakhosi of an area and it could just as easily be taken away.
The king said the lack of security of tenure was being addressed with long-term leases being given to individuals, institutions and legal entities as a form of security of tenure. “This in turn enables the holders thereof to raise finance to unlock development on communal land in rural areas, which hitherto could not be done. Likewise private individuals are now able to improve their dwellings by registering bonds on the basis of these leases.”
According to the king, the Ingonyama Trust has been working with municipalities such as those in the uMkhanyakhude district to develop infrastructure and formal town planning projects.
Similarly it has been working with various organs of state and the private sector to register various public servitudes like the Transnet fuel pipeline. The king said he was hopeful that the work being done by the Ingonyama Trust in partnership with other entities would fast-track the development of small towns, the majority of which lie on Ingonyama land. He said the forum was being set up to support the implementation of comprehensive rural development in KZN.
The Democratic Alliance welcomed the king’s announcement. MPL Mark Steele said having a serious and critical look at the Ingonyama Trust was long overdue. “The DA has some strong views on how to create real opportunities for people in rural areas and we welcome the chance to participate in a proper discussion about the future of the trust,” Steele said.
Meanwhile, Minister in the Presidency Trevor Manuel yesterday told delegates at an AgriSA policy conference in Stellenbosch that land reform must be dealt with openly in the country.
Manuel said local districts must lead the way and be empowered to deal with land reform.
He acknowledged that government had “thrown too much money down the chute” on land reform and a new approach was needed.
He noted the price of agricultural land was high and land often lay fallow before a sale went through.
“The price is very high, and the land lies fallow for a decade, and by the time there is an actual payment, there is no correspondence with the price of the land,” Manuel said.
“And so we’ve actually thrown too much money down the chute. We need to look at this issue very differently.”
In his state of the nation address earlier this month, President Jacob Zuma alluded to his government’s plan to review the willing-buyer-willing-seller principle that had been underpinning land reform since 1994.
Manuel, who chairs the National Planning Commission, said South Africa’s population was currently around 50 million and was set to rise to 58,5 million by 2030.
This meant farmers would have to increase agriculture outputs by 20% to meet a growing demand for food.• firstname.lastname@example.org