'We have no views' – ANC treads carefully on King Zwelithini's stance on Ingonyama Trust
The ANC is treading carefully on the matter of the controversial Ingonyama Trust after the head of the Zulu monarchy warned that those who want to dissolve the trust were the "enemy and will be defeated".
The ANC said it was being "misconstrued as anti-Zulu monarch" after King Goodwill Zwelithini took jabs at the governing party on Wednesday at his imbizo in Ulundi and warned of a war if the land under the trust was taken.
The party said on Thursday it had not formulated a view that is either in favour of or against calls for the Ingonyama Trust Act to be repealed.
It instead expressed its wish for an urgent meeting with King Zwelithini to set the record straight.
"There is urgency for that meeting because the ANC is going to be misconstrued as anti-Zulu and fighting the king, which is not the case," ANC head of elections Fikile Mbalula said.
He repeatedly distanced the governing party from recommendations made by a parliamentary panel headed by former president Kgalema Motlanthe that the act, which gave the trust administrative authority over 2.8 million hectares of land, be repealed.
Motlanthe 'not speaking on party's behalf'
The dissolution of the trust was part of the recommendations by Motlanthe's high-level panel that was set up by Parliament to review all current laws.
Motlanthe has also faced harsh criticism for likening the rule of traditional leaders over their subjects to that of tin-pot dictators because of the power they hold over land. He was speaking during the ANC's May land summit.
Mbalula said the party's former secretary general was not speaking on the party's behalf.
He added that while the ANC had not taken a stand on Motlanthe's high-level panel report, it was willing to apologise to the king.
Mbalula said "elders in the party" were handling Motlanthe's remarks.
"Comrade Motlanthe's views are not the views of the ANC and if there is any apology that has to be offered to anybody, including the king, the ANC will do that of its own accord, led by its leadership," he said.
Fears of hostile reception for Ramaphosa
"There is no view of the ANC that says we support the high-level panel, there is no such.
"Everyone must disabuse themselves [of the idea] that the ANC is anti-Zulu king, and it wants to annex [the Zulu kingdom] or do anything in relation to this question based on the recommendation of Motlanthe's high-level panel," Mbalula said.
He was briefing the media ahead of President Cyril Ramaphosa's "Thuma Mina" election campaign stop in KwaZulu-Natal this weekend. There are fears Ramaphosa might face some hostility following the king's imbizo.
Mbalula would not directly respond to the king's comments in which he labelled ANC leaders "thieves".
He said the party would not engage the king "on the street" but wanted a "decent conversation" with him.
"We are not going to be populist, there are avenues and the king has never shut us out….Where we are called thieves we will engage with the king," Mbalula said.
The Ingonyama Trust Act was signed into law just days before the country's first democratic elections in 1994.