02/07/2018 06:26 BST | Updated 02/07/2018 06:26 BST

King Goodwill Zwelithini: 'Zulus Will Not Sit By' While Their Land Is Debated

The Zulu king is calling on his subjects to increase their donations towards his fund to fight any changes to the Ingonyama Trust in court.

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Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini (C) prior to deliver a speech during an imbizo at the Moses Mabhida Football Stadium in Durban on April 20, 2015.

Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini has called on Zulus not to sit by and watch decisions being made about their land without them. According to City Press, Zwelithini called on Zulu people to use a land imbizo — to be held in Ulundi on Wednesday — as an opportunity to speak up.

In a statement on Sunday, the publication reported, he said: "The issue of land is a very sensitive one for the Zulu people, as it is more than just about land. It is about food security, housing and political economy, among others, and it is for this reason that Zulus will not be pedestrians that will sit and watch while major decisions about their ancestral land are made."

This follows a recommendation by a high-level panel led by former president Kgalema Motlanthe that the Ingonyama Trust be done away with.

Last week, the king called on Zulus to increase their donations to the trust, which he runs. It manages about 28,000 square kilometres of land. The monarch wants his subjects to raise their contributions from R5 to at least R15 to create a fund to fight the democratically elected government's move to scrap the trust.

According to Business Day, government is mulling moving the land from the ownership of the trust to local municipalities. Zwelithini is the trust's sole trustee.

Wednesday's imbizo was called by Zwelithini and Inkatha Freedom Party leader Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi, to "tell their subjects how they must defy government" on the issue of land, Business Day reported.

The donations will be used to fight government's plans to expropriate the land under the trust's control in the courts, as well as to stage protests and pickets, a spokesperson reportedly said.

On June 2, Zwelithini called for a mass prayer event in KwaZulu-Natal to pray for several problems facing the province, including the "vexed issue of land which is a thorn in our hearts", according to The Sowetan.

While he said he did not have the power to intervene on the trust's behalf, as the issue was before Parliament, president Cyril Ramaphosa reportedly said he is prepared to meet Zwelithini to discuss his concerns. Zwelithini was reportedly preparing a letter requesting a meeting with the president.

Ramaphosa's spokesperson, Khusela Diko, told IOL, "We are not aware of the request (from the king), however, the president welcomed the engagement with anybody including the king on matters relating to land restitution. He welcomes such a meeting.

"The president has not commented on Motlanthe's recommendation because it is still before Parliament."