Open letter to President Mbeki re Government position on land claims in Mpumalanga Province by Bantu Holomisa, MP - UDM President (04/09/2000)


Our member of the Mpumalanga Legislative Council, Mr Joe Nkuna has been approached by chiefs and members of Mpumalanga communities, who have claims on land that has allegedly been historically misappropriated and which they lost under previous colonial regimes that had jurisdiction over Mpumalanga region

It is common knowledge that these claims fall within the physical boundaries of territories that are the subject of territorial claims by the Government of the Kingdom of Swaziland. We are informed that the Swaziland government has pursued these claims first with the United Kingdom prior to the former’s independence, and subsequently with the apartheid government of South Africa after Swaziland’s independence.

It is also public knowledge that there was an uproar at the time by some chiefs in KaNgwane, Mpumalanga, and the then KwaZulu Chief Minister, the Honourable Chief Mangosuthu Buthelezi, against the Swaziland claims on territories in Mpumalanga and Ngwavuma respectively. This emerged after the governments of South Africa and Swaziland initialled an International Agreement in 1982, on adjustment of the International Boundary between the two countries, which was followed by the South African government’s Proclamation authorising the border adjustment. Both KwaZulu and KaNgwane homeland governments then, challenged the Proclamation in court with success although Swaziland maintained that their success was on procedural principles and not on agreement itself.

It has come to our knowledge, that the African National Congress, through their then Secretary General in exile, the late Mr Alfred Nzo, communicated their support for the Swaziland land claims, to the government of that country and we are informed that the organisation, undertook to assist Swaziland, to recover the territories, she claimed from South Africa. In a memorandum signed on behalf of the National Executive Committee of the ANC in Lusaka on the 15th of July 1982, the ANC concluded:

“The people of Swaziland and of South Africa can and will, in future, solve any territorial disputes between them peacefully and amicably, in the spirit of African Brotherhood and mutual solidarity. For this to be possible, it is however necessary that the people of South Africa should, like those of Swaziland, govern themselves. It is therefore our considered view that the Government of Swaziland would be perfectly within its rights to raise any territorial questions with the Government of a liberated South Africa, should there be such questions ... We wish to assure the Government of the Kingdom of Swaziland of our high fraternal esteem and of our conviction that we can and must, between ourselves, reach an honourable agreement which will advance the course of African liberation and unity”

In order for the UDM to take a position and mandate Mr Nkuna to give guidance to the people and chiefs of Mpumalanga we need to know the current government’s position on the Swaziland claims and clarification in the following areas:

a) Does the government confirm that the ANC’s then Secretary   General Mr Nzo made the reported communication and undertaking to the Swaziland government?

i) if so, what are the implications of that support and undertaking to assist the Swaziland government, in its land claims against the former apartheid led administrations?

b) What is the status of the current Inter-governmental discussions if any on these Swaziland government land claims? Have government reached any finality on the matter?

i) If so, government must be transparent and advise the public on their position in this important issue.

It is imperative Mr President, that you throw some light on these questions in order to give guidance and enable our public representative to take appropriate positions when confronted by the chiefs and members of their constituencies.

We urge the government to take all stakeholders on board in the discussions concerning the disputed territories and to keep the process transparent at all times. Our position will be influenced by resolutions adopted at these discussions, and will empower our pubic representatives to give appropriate guidance to their constituencies.

Kindly advise.
Yours sincerely

Bantu Holomisa, MP
President: UDM

CC      : His Majesty the King of Swaziland
          : Hon Premier of Mpumalanga
          : Hon Chief GM Buthelezi
          : Hon J Nkuna

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