EFF leader Julius Malema has warned Zulu monarch King Goodwill Zwelithini to stop beating the war drum over plans to dismantle the Ingonyama Trust Board and transfer control of at least 3 million hectares of land back to the state.
Malema insisted he was ready to die with his boots on as he reiterated that the state should be the custodian of land which must then be reallocated to the people.
He said no one must be intimidated or tiptoe around the trust’s sole custodian, Zwelithini, who this week added fuel to the raging fire around the emotive land debate as he threatened that the Zulu nation would defend inherited land.
“If the land is in the hands of the chiefs and the kings is indeed meant to benefit ordinary people, the state can still do that. Unless it’s meant to benefit the elite found in those tribal arrangements,” Malema said.
“Let’s not talk war. Let us not beat war drums here. Let us come up with superior arguments on why it should not be done like that,” Malema told journalists on Thursday at the party’s Johannesburg headquarters.
“We love the Zulu king by the way, we support him, we even gave him cattle. But we can disagree with him and we should do that. There are no holy cows in the country. We must debate issues openly even if it means disagreeing with the Zulu king. Democracy means that we must never fear. Anything that seeks to instil fear is undemocratic and should never be celebrated.”
Malema said there was no war against the Zulu people, but that all land under traditional leadership, be it in Limpopo or the Eastern Cape, was not immune to the state’s intervention.
The ultimate goal was for every black South African to get the land back, including the Zulus.
The proposal by a high-level panel, led by former president Kgalema Motlanthe, to amend or repeal the 1994 act that transferred the tribal land, has pitted the ANC against traditional leaders who have for years supported the party after the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) lost power in KwaZulu-Natal.
The transfer was meant to appease the IFP and convince the Zulu monarch to participate in elections.
According to the panel’s report, the trust’s current practices were inconsistent with the government’s land policy, and did not secure land tenure for residents.
KwaZulu-Natal Premier Willies Mchunu has publicly expressed displeasure and vowed his province will never support any move to scrap the trust or undermine the role of traditional leadership.
Malema was not happy with this, charging they had made noise about land expropriation to secure votes for their candidate Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.
Given the king’s experience in KwaZulu-Natal, he should rather encourage dialogue and try and persuade others on why he believed the best way to give people land was through Ingonyama, Malema added.
“He must be respected, he must not be feared. I fear no one, I only fear God. If it means death, let it be. Why must we be intimidated and threatened for thinking? We have never promised war to anyone. We have called for engagement so why should the response be ‘leave what you are doing or meet the unexpected’. Why should things be like that in a democratic SA?” he said.
Malema warned that anything that seeks to pit blacks against one another “will lead to black on black violence” but that “if we die tomorrow, we must die with boots on so the next generation can continue with the struggle”.
“There is no other way out of this without dialogue. We invite everyone; let’s talk about how do we heal that pain. How do we heal the permanent anger that even 24 years into democracy they are still very angry because property relations have not changed. They are still the way they were during apartheid times. Colonialists lost nothing and the oppressed gained nothing but we talk of the 1994 breakthrough. What breakthrough? Yet you call it freedom?” he said.
Tensions have escalated since the EFF tabled a motion last week, seconded by the ANC, to amend the Constitution in order to enable the expropriation of land without compensation.
This comes on the back of an audit report which revealed blacks only directly own 1.2% of the country’s rural land and 7% of formally registered property in towns and cities. Whites on the other hand, directly own 23.6% of the country’s rural land and 11.4% of land in towns and cities.
As investors watch with keen interest developments around the country, President Cyril Ramaphosa attempted to allay fears in a meeting with ratings agency Moody’s on Wednesday. He told them a drive to expropriate land without compensation would be done in a way that would not harm the economy or food security.
But Malema appeared to brush off investor concerns, picking China as a perfect example of owning land and still getting direct foreign investment.
He said the panic from white people was expected “because they know what they did to black people”.
“If you know you are haunted by [your] own sins, you have reason to panic. I understand why Afrikaners are panicking; they have blood on their hands and they think we want revenge. We don’t have time for that.”
Malema said no one must fear robustness in the land debate.
He further accused “white-owned media” of having taken a posture against land expropriation.
“They want to criminalise it, they want to make it look barbaric and make it look like it will collapse the country.”