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Media Statement on Virtual Engagement between Ingonyama Trust Board, Zulu Royal Council and the South African National Editors Forum

10 March  2021

The Ingonyama Trust Board ( ITB)  and the KwaZulu-Natal Chapter of the South African National Editors’ Forum today held the first-ever meeting between the two bodies and have agreed on further interaction in order to address certain perspectives on land and land tenure in the province.

The meeting which was held virtually, follows what ITB Chairperson Jerome Ngwenya described at the meeting as disinformation and misinformation from certain sections of the media regarding the role the ITB in administering land that is under its control in the province.

Recent media reports painted a negative picture regarding the ITB and its relevance in the administration of land and land tenure in the province, suggesting some irregularities. This came after a report by the Auditor-General presented at the National Parliament recently.

ITB Chairperson, Mr Ngwenya explained that there were inaccuracies in the Auditor General (AG) report and that the body is questioning some of the procedure that the AG took in compiling the report which suggested there were irregularities in the management of the ITB’s budget. Referring to a letter of engagement between the ITB and the AG’s Office, Ngwenya said : “We are seeking the correct procedure with the AG as we indicated in our response on our annual report that while in our letter of engagement with the AG which we sign every year before audit commences or during the audit period. We sign a letter of engagement which regulates our relationship for audit purposes. There is a specific section which says that, in case where we have differences of opinion the matter will be dealt with in terms of dispute resolution procedure. We discovered when we reached the deadlock that the AG does not have a dispute resolution procedure but they have a complaints procedure.”

In response to a question as to why the ITB was not cooperating with an investigation by the national Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development, Mr Ngwenya said: “I am hearing this for the first time. The Minister would have consulted us and we would have cooperated.”

Mr Ngwenya also informed the meeting that due to constraints posed by insufficient government funding of the ITB, the entity had decided to establish Ingonyama Holdings PTY Ltd. This body, he said, would identify and pursue business venture, a practice allowed under the law. He said the move was aimed at supplementing government funding of the ITB. The ITB was also looking into venturing into the mining sector using the newly established entity.

The meeting also heard from  uNdlunkulu Thabisile Zulu of eMatheni who highlighted the role women played in land tenure. UNdlunkulu  Zulu is one of the women traditional leaders in KwaZulu-Natal who is an activist in her own right. She said as traditional leaders they were duty-bound to give available land to women as most of them were responsible for running households.

“Women are given land to utilise by traditional councils even for business purposes,” she said. She said Amakhosi had the capacity to undertake an audit of how much land was being used by women in the province.

The meeting which was attended by over 16 journalists from various media houses, also agreed to continue further engagements with the ITB on matters relating to land in the future.

ENQUIRIES:

Mr Simpiwe Mxakaza

Media Relations Specialist

Cell : 063 315 4113

#ENDS#