Motlanthe's 'village tin-pot dictators' comment a long-unstated position of the ANC – Buthelezi

Former president Kgalema Motlanthe was voicing a long-unstated position of the ANC when he called traditional leaders "village tin-pot dictators" during his party's land summit last month, said traditional prime minister of the Zulu monarch and nation Mangosuthu Buthelezi on Wednesday.

Buthelezi, who is also the leader of the IFP, was addressing the National House of Traditional Leaders sitting in Durban.

"Not a single leader in the ANC spoke up. No one contradicted Mr Motlanthe or called him to task. The fact is that this senior leader was voicing a long-unstated position of the ANC," said Buthelezi.

News24 reported in May that Motlanthe said the majority of traditional leaders acted like "village tin-pot dictators" towards villagers.

He was presenting his arguments on the issue of land at the summit held in Boksburg in May.

"The approach which confronts us as the ANC must really be to understand that the ANC enjoys support from the people, not traditional leaders. Some pledge their support to the ANC, the majority of them are acting as village tin-pot dictators to the people there in the villages," said Motlanthe.

Land expropriation without compensation

News24 also reported that in continuing his criticism of tribal leaders, Motlanthe said it was rare to find one who did not think they had a rightful claim to the land.

On Wednesday, Buthelezi said Motlanthe, as chair of the High-level Panel on the Assessment of Legislation and the Acceleration of Fundamental Change, led the call for land administered by traditional leaders to be taken away and placed under the ownership of government "through the scrapping of the Ingonyama Trust Act".

"Effectively, the first land expropriated without compensation would be the land of traditional communities," he said.

He said the panel's recommendation to scrap the act "simply expressed a policy already taken by the ANC".

"If government can scrap this act and expropriate land administered by traditional leaders, we should not be surprised when it takes the next step in disempowering traditional communities," said Buthelezi.

He said traditional leaders needed to take a stand against "this final obliteration of the institution of traditional leaders".

A few bad eggs

"How can traditional leaders support people who see us as 'village tin-pot dictators'? The ANC has made their intentions clear at the highest level," he said.

Buthelezi said in KwaZulu-Natal alone there were more than 300 traditional leaders chairing more than 300 traditional councils.

"Unfortunately, in any sphere of life you will find some bad eggs. But the conduct of a few individuals cannot warrant former president Motlanthe calling all traditional leaders 'village tin-pot dictators'. Why tarnish the entire institution for the anecdotal actions of a few individuals?

"Or for that matter, why call for the scrapping of an entire trust because it has some administrative challenges? Government has a plethora of challenges and failures, but no one has called for government to be scrapped," he said.

Buthelezi also lashed out at Deputy President David Mabuza for "failing" to contradict Motlanthe's statements in Parliament on May 29.

"He failed to contradict this accusation, simply confirming that a draft bill is in place to remove land that is administered by the very traditional leaders who have served and led our people for generations," he said.

'We are dealing with a very sensitive matter'

Chief Mwelo Nonkonyana, chair of the Eastern Cape House of Traditional Leaders, shared Buthelezi's sentiments.

Nonkonyana said President Cyril Ramaphosa must come to the National House of Traditional Leaders himself to address issues related to Motlanthe and Mabuza's statements.

Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Zweli Mkhize said the Ingonyama Trust Act matter had not been discussed in the "proper context".

"The trust is part of the Constitution of the country. It reports to the provincial and national legislatures. The criticism that has been [made against] the trust is not for me to respond to," he said while addressing the traditional leaders later on Wednesday.

He said the report by the high-level panel had not even been discussed in Parliament yet.

"A decision has not been taken around this matter. That report has not been adopted by the ANC. It is not an ANC position," he said.

He urged the leaders to invite Motlanthe to one of their sittings so he could present his team's findings.

"We are dealing with a very sensitive matter which requires all of the leadership to deal with. It is very complex and has become difficult to conclude," he said.

He promised he would report the conclusions of the meeting in Durban to Cabinet and the ANC.

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