The Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini officially opened the KZN Provincial House of Traditional Leaders in Ulundi on Thursday March 14 2019. On his official invitation list, there was King Fabrice Zombi Kavabioko. Since the increase calls for land expropriation in South Africa and other regional countries, many traditional leaders have developed an approach on how to handle that issue. The issue of land expropriation is a legacy of colonial administration. In many African countries, when European colonizers arrived, they occupied the lands, chased the natives away from cultivable land and controlled mineral rich regions. The natives were excluded economically from the wealth of the land that belongs to them. The apartheid regime instituted on top of that a segregationist politics. That politics consisted of a model of development that favoured people on the basis of race. In South Africa, only white people had that privilege.
In contemporary South Africa, the Constitution lays paths for a democratic country. All discriminatory measures of the past are banned and dealt with severely. At this particular moment that South Africa is dealing with the hot issue of land expropriation, traditional leaders are engaging their subject in the public debate. King Zwelithini along Chief Mangosuthu Buthelezi of Kwazulu-Natal have convened their counterpart King Fabrice Zombi Kavabioko in the official opening ceremony of house of traditional leader. Many topics were raised in the occasion such as court issues that involved the king of Zulu, land expropriation, security and elections that will take place in May.
African traditional leaders are facing similar cases in their respective territories. King Zombi is pushing for a new agenda on rural development. He assumes that there is an urgent need for an up-to-date policy on how natives must benefits their land and how to make lands economically profitable. In The Democratic Republic of Congo, there is a huge percentage of land that is cultivable but not used. Among problems that are listed as reason why they are still untouched is the lack of roads. Facing continuously infrastructure challenges in areas with a huge population rate may be disappointing for kings who raise those problems to political authorities.
At same point, traditional leaders have to come with their own initial plans to address those issues. If they keep on waiting until the central government could intervene, that process will always take long. In most cases, the central government never realised any project in rural areas. Where there are some successful examples of government implementation of policies that benefit natives, there is also the difficulty of maintenance. However, the experience of other advance areas under traditional leadership such as in South Africa, Lesotho and eSwathi may serve as references to new idea King Fabrice Zombi is campaigning for.
In the next coming days, there are events that will take place in the region. Traditional leaders are hoping to raise public awareness on how to handle the land issue. They will also take the opportunity to increase contacts and discussions about their unity, development and local legislations. They usually face multiple clash vis-à-vis central government though laws are clear on who is who and who should do what. There is a modern conception of traditional power that many think is in contradiction to modern democracy.