Presidential hopeful and businessman Mathews Phosa has vowed to back AmaXhosa king Mpendulo Zwelonke Sigcawu in a land claim which stretches over three provinces.
King Zwelonke wants to claim land starting from Umzimkhulu all the way to Cape Town in what could be the biggest land claim in the country.
Phosa was at Nqadu Great Place at the weekend to pay homage to the king and to present him with livestock and a stuffed lion.
“The king has asked me to be involved in his land claims. He has a lawyer, but I am backing up this lawyer. I look to see the king recover as much as possible if not all his land,” said Phosa.
Speaking to the Dispatch about Phosa’s involvement, the king said: “I am delighted to have assistance from Dr Phosa”.
Phosa has been criss-crossing the country campaigning rigorously to take the reins from President Jacob Zuma when he vacates his seat as ANC president in December.
Phosa’s gesture to the king and the AmaXhosa kingdom could give his campaign a much-needed boost.
“This is a huge land claim and will affect many people, nations and tribes. This will need robust research and huge financial resources,” said Sigcawu.
He said that he had launched the claim with the Land Claims Commission.
“We have been verbally talking about it, but now the wheels will start to move. We have been looking for a Good Samaritan who can assist in the process. Now we have found one as Dr Phosa has come at the right time. He is very committed to ensure that we win this claim,” said the king.
Neither the king nor Phosa could say how much money would be involved in the claim or how much Phosa was willing to invest in the initiative.
Phosa – a lawyer by profession – said he had assisted many communities with land claims and won.
“We cannot say we have total freedom until land is restored to its rightful owners,” said Phosa.
But the former Robben Island prisoner said land should not just be claimed and not worked on.
“Land needs to be tilled so that it can assist in fighting poverty and creating jobs,” said Phosa.
Among the tribes who could be affected are the AmaMpondomise, AmaMpondo, AbaThembu, AmaXesibe and AmaBhaca.
But the king said this would not create problems.
“We are claiming what is rightfully ours, the Xhosaland.” he said.
The king urged business people and patriots to join the initiative to reclaim Xhosaland.
The last claim involving KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern, Northern and Western Cape provinces, as well as parts of the Free State and Gauteng, was that of incarcerated AbaThembu king Buyelekhaya Dalindyebo.
Dalindyebo and his then lawyer, Votani Majola, filed a secession notice in parliament in January 2010. The two and their followers wanted to form Thembuland out of the four provinces. Majola was to be emperor and Dalindyebo was to remain king. Their short-lived dream of a prosperous new state with a cash injection of R80-billion from the South African government, soon fizzled out, with Majola – who had changed his name to Dabulamanzi Emperor Thembu II – being kicked out of the kingdom by Dalindyebo.
Academic and political analyst Dr Somadoda Fikeni said the issue of land claims was a “very complex one”.
“You have the Khoi-Khoi, of which the Gqunukhwebes are some of the remaining elements – they claim to have been around for thousands of years. You have the San, who claim to have been around before the Khoi.”
He said the tendency to claim across provincial boundaries could antagonise neighbouring kingdoms and cause tensions.
Fikeni said such a complex claim could take up to 200 years to conclude, as even the smallest claims sometimes take up to 20 years to complete.
Phosa also promised to assist Sigcawu in improving education, health and water supplies in his kingdom.
On Friday, he handed more than 800 packets of high-quality sanitary towels at Xolilizwe High School in Nqadu Village near Willowvale.
He said he would finance the drilling of a borehole to supply water to the king’s Great Place.
“Among the king’s priorities is education, heath and agriculture to to improve the lives of his people. In response to that, I am committing to have a library and science laboratory established at Xolilizwe High School,” said Phosa.
The king emphasised that his association with the former ANC treasurer-general had nothing to do with his ambitions to be the next president.
“Yes, he wants to be the president, but we are not here to endorse him. It’s purely up to ANC members to vote for him or not. Our relation with Dr Phosa is a partnership seeking to assist in the development of the lives of the people in my areas of jurisdiction, nothing political.
“We want more business people to come join hands with us,” said Sigcawu.
Phosa also gave the king five Nguni heifers and a bull, as well as a stuffed lion. — firstname.lastname@example.org