Bheki Mashile's Letter from Umjindi

Umjindi: Hot stuff. Where there’s smoke...


I am convinced that we in Mzansi should adopt the slogan “Keep hope alive” – with thanks to the USA’s Jesse Jackson who coined the phrase for his presidential campaign in 19-ahh-something.

In one of my recent columns I expressed my two-cents’ worth  in support of the legalisation of marijuana for medicinal purposes – along with its hemp equivalent for the plant’s vast range of commercial and industrial uses.

A good number of people with whom I discussed the piece were adamant that our lawmakers would not pass such a law, reasoning that “our people” have a one-sided view of marijuana, seeing it as an intoxicating herb smoked by juvenile delinquents, tsotsis and Rastas.

However, our lawmakers have a duty to look beyond stereotypes and traditional beliefs and instead to consider the benefits from an informed point of view. After all, the legalisation of marijuana – particularly for medicinal purposes – has become an international trend. Moreover, the naysayers in Parliament need to understand why one of their distinguished members, the late IFP MP Mario Oriani-Ambrosini, presented such a bill to the house. Had they applied their minds to the reasons for his passionate plea, they would surely have to pass the bill. For crying out loud, they would be silly not to do so. And if they don’t, we will end up importing marijuana-based medicines. So, hey! Let us cultivate the stuff ourselves; hemp, too, which has a multitude of commercial uses.

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One Nosey reader recently questioned why, as a Swazi, I have been allocated a farm in this-here Mzansi. Well Mr Binns, I happen to be a bona fide South African citizen of Swazi heritage, and I got my farm through working my black butt off by establishing an agri/agro-processing business which  impressed the lads at what was then Land Affairs.

Mr Binns asks what claim to land Swazis have in the RSA. Well, actually, Swaziland has one giant unresolved land claim against South Africa, dating back to the kingdom’s independence from Britain in 1968.

The Swaziland Times reported in 2014 that Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini had signalled his intention  to claim the same land that Swaziland  has been claiming since way back.

According to Wikipedia’s list of world territorial disputes, the area being claimed by Swaziland covers the former Bantustan of KaNgwane, which now forms the northern parts of Jozini and uMhlabuyalingana local municipalities in KwaZulu-Natal, and  the southern part of Nkomazi, the south-eastern part of Umjindini, and the far-eastern part of Albert Luthuli local municipalities in Mpumalanga. 

Swaziland placed the matter on the agenda of the UN General Assembly in the 1970s. I should know, my father was part of the Swazi General Assembly delegation.

The UN rejected the Swazi claim, citing local political complications attributed to apartheid and the liberation movement. Furthermore, the UN cited fear of a domino effect in that it could spark a barrage of other disputed land and colonial-era border shifts in Africa.

Now Zwelithini and KZN traditional leaders are planning to lodge the largest land claim for rights to the entire Zulu Kingdom, including Durban, as well as parts of the Eastern Cape, Mpumalanga and Free State. These South African traditionalists are also claiming Mpumalanga province – which the Border Rural Committee (BRC) is targeting in its land restitution claim already in progress.

Mpumalanga lies in eastern South Africa, north of KwaZulu-Natal and bordering Swaziland and Mozambique. It constitutes 6.5% of South Africa’s land area.

Swaziland has, for years, been advocating for parts of Mpumalanga and KZN as being historically part of that  country. The Swazis’ claims extend  to a non-contiguous portion of northern Mpumalanga, including a section of Kruger National Park.

Zwelithini is more recently claiming the same territory – a vast tract of urban and rural Mpumalanga land that fell under the control of the Zulus at the time of colonial dispossession.

The claim will be filed under the Land Rights Amendment Bill of 1913.

City Press has reported – also in 2014 – that Zwelithini’s claim/counter-claim was being planned and coordinated by the Ingonyama Trust. It reported: “…Zwelithini and the province’s house of traditional leaders representing KZN’s chiefs, met for a workshop on the land claim process, which has been reopened for another five years with the enactment of the new land restitution law, the Land Rights Amendment Bill” .

Judge Jerome Ngwenya, Chairman of the Ingonyama Trust, said; “There will be cases where others claim the same land as us, for example, where a chief was placed in charge of a certain area by the king. The chief’s family may also submit a land claim…, but we are working with our traditional leaders to compile one claim for the land taken from the Zulu nation.”

[Note, there is no mention made of who the Zulus took the land from way back then. – Ed.]

Do your homework Mr Binns. Perhaps I should change your name to Mr Bean because your uninformed comment made me laugh.

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