South Africa’s Zulu king and Afrikaans nationalist group AfriForum are forming a partnership to develop the agriculture on vast swathes of land the monarch controls through a trust, AfriForum’s CEO said on Tuesday.
The move comes as the ruling African National Congress (ANC) takes steps to change the constitution to expropriate land without compensation while also seeking to provide security of tenure to people living on royal tribal lands – policies opposed by AfriForum and the king.
“We are finalising a memorandum of understanding to make the agreement formal,” AfriForum Chief Executive Kallie Kriel told Reuters.
King Goodwill Zwelithini controls 2.8 million hectares, a fragmented sub-tropical area the size of Belgium, under an entity called the Ingonyama Trust.
“We have numerous members that have successful farms in the vicinity of the trust. The idea is to get a formula where there can be cooperation between our members and people living on the trust land to stimulate agricultural development,” Kriel said.
Much of the farming in those areas is focused on sugar, cattle, game and high-value fruit such as avocados. AfriForum is generally seen as a right-wing, nationalist group that has lobbied for support for “white rights” in the United States.
The eNCA news channel’s website on Tuesday quoted the king as saying: “I’m asking AfriForum … to come and help us. They are willing to work with me and my father’s people to uplift agriculture in our land.”
The monarch, who wields influence over millions of rural voters, reiterated his warnings to the ANC not to include his territory in its land reform drive.