The Ingonyama Trust is a corporate entity formed to administer the land traditionally owned by the Zulu people just before the advent of democracy in South Africa. As of 1994, the trust owns 3-million hectares of land – given ownership by the outgoing apartheid government.
The mandate of the trust is to "benefit the material welfare and social well-being of the members of the tribes and communities" of the Zulu people who live on this land.
The trust is administered by nine board members, led by Zulu monarch King Goodwill Zwelithini, who is the sole trustee. In other words, the king holds all the land on which his subjects live, work and farm.
Recently the trust has been engulfed in controversy, following former president Kgalema Motlante's land report.
According to the report, the trust should be repealed or amended, because its implementation has infringed on the individual land rights of beneficiaries.
If the trust is repealed, it would lead to the government taking ownership of the land – pending, it would be hoped, its redistribution via transferral of title deeds and ownership to the people who live on it and farm it.
King Goodwill has warned that if any attempt is made to take away the trust's land, "all hell will break loose". He has also threatened to challenge Motlante's land report on the Ingonyama Trust in court.
The king – whose household is allocated a state-funded budget of R58-million per year, while his personal salary amounts to R1.1-million – has urged all Zulu people to donate R5 towards a fund that will be used to wage a legal battle, should Parliament go ahead and repeal the trust.
This is not the first time the trust has been in the spotlight. As a former state institution, it was exempt from paying tax from April 1994 to July 2005 – until this position was challenged in a case considered by the Supreme Court of Appeal.
Since then, the trust and the occupants of the land under its control have had to pay taxes and rates as prescribed by law.