AbaThembu Petition

NCOP Petitions and Executive Undertakings

21 November 2019
Chairperson: Mr EM Mthethwa (ANC, KwaZulu-Natal)
Share this page:

Meeting Summary

The Select Committee on Petitions and Executive Undertakings received petitions from the Thembuland Royal Empire and the National House of Traditional Leadership.

The petition submitted by the AbaThembu contained allegations that included the manipulation of the justice system with the intention of destroying the AbaThembu Nation in South Africa, and the delay of the land restitution process which was to the detriment of the AbaThembu Nation.

The Committee was briefed by Emperor Thembu the Second, Votani Majola, on the petition which urged the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) to intervene in respect of the allegations contained in the petition.  The petition centered around four allegations: the manipulation of the justice system, the delay on land restitution, the lack of economic development, and the lack of housing delivery for the AbaThembu Nation.

The Committee was told that based on the incidents, events, and activities that had occurred in the past few years, the Thembuland Royal Empire reasonably believed that the justice system in South Africa had been and was still being manipulated and abused. They argued it was done in the same manner as had happened during the apartheid era, with the intention to destroy the Nation of the AbaThembu. Members heard that the ANC and some right-wing elements were responsible.

On the issue of land restitution, the Committee was told that that AbaThembu were the first to arrive in South Africa, and for this reason and many other reasons, this land called South Africa belongs to the AbaThembu nation in its entirety. Members were surprised to hear the claim that there was representation in all nine provinces and said that this might have been a ‘slip of the tongue’. Members were under the impression that there were only two Thembu Royal houses, one in the East and one in the West, so they were shocked to hear otherwise.

The Committee heard that applications to approve traditional councils and chiefdoms, which would be eligible for governmental budget allocations aimed at development, were delayed by the former Eastern Cape Premier. The petition also called for the acceleration of the delivery of housing for the AbaThembu Nation.

The Committee also received a briefing from the National House of Traditional Leaders (NHTL). The Act provided for the process of recognition of traditional leaders and traditional communities, and according to that, the positions of the petitioners were not recognised.

Members told Emperor Thembu the Second that the petition was very complicated and encompassed several issues, especially those relating to legitimacy and the claim to the land of South Africa in its entirety. Members viewed the petition as a very sensitive one which required time for thorough engagement. Members stated that they would go through the documentation and communicate with the two parties regarding points of clarity in writing.

Meeting report

Apologies were received from the Chairperson Ms Z Ncitha (ANC, Eastern Cape)

Election of Acting Chairperson

Mr N Mkhize, Committee Secretary, conducted the proceedings of the election of an Acting Chairperson.

Mr A Gxoyiya (Northern Cape, ANC) moved to nominate Mr Mthethwa to be the Acting Chairperson. Ms P Mmola (Mpumalanga, ANC) seconded the motion.

Mr Mthethwa accepted the nomination to be the Acting Chairperson.

Opening remarks by the Chairperson

The Acting Chairperson welcomed Members and the delegation and reiterated that the Chairperson could not be in attendance as she was at a meeting in Pretoria.

He apologised for the late start of the meeting and explained that there were party caucus meetings that other Members were engaged in.

He said that he was aware of the petitioner who had previously presented his case to Parliament and that this was the only thing the Committee would deal with. There would be two petitioners giving presentations.

The Acting Chairperson made it clear that Members would listen to the presentation and deliberate with one another at a later stage in another meeting.

The delegates introduced themselves.

Briefing by the Thembuland Royal Empire

The Acting Chairperson asked that only the key issues be raised as Members had the longer more in-depth document to peruse. He asked that the presentation be limited to 30 minutes.

His Majesty Emperor Thembu II Votani Majola, the Emperor of the AbaThembu Nation, uDabulamanzi KaNgoza KaMkhuphukeli Ka Mvelase KaThembu thanked Members for affording them the opportunity to present their petition. AbaThembu had been honoured that Members had visited them in Mthatha, Eastern Cape Province.  

He placed on record that four critical documents had been submitted as petitions. The respective petitions each dealt with the fast tracking of the delivery of houses, land, socioeconomic development and the justice system. There were supporting documents that had been submitted to assist in understanding the petitions.  There was one submitted document that gave clarity to the petitions. Each petition consisted of 15 pages of affidavits with the rest being evidentiary support.  The document detailed the structure of the petitions. The documents provided clarity on the land claims process and what they requested of Members.

Heads of Presentation had also been submitted which detailed the keys points to make for easier understanding.

The last document which was submitted to the Chief Executive Officer, Land Claims Commission was on the pace of the land claims processes. It included recommendations on how to fast track land claims in the country.

The Thembuland Royal Empire was a tribe of the AbaThembu. The term ‘Thembuland Royal Empire’ is a term that was crafted in 2005 when the tribe had been revived. They were founded on four pillars. The first was to revive their Kingdoms which existed in all nine provinces of South Africa and had been destroyed during colonialism and apartheid.

The second founding pillar was on land restitution. They wanted their land back which was the tribe’s heritage and what connected them spiritually as a nation. Land restitution was non-negotiable.

The third founding pillar was on socioeconomic development. The people of AbaThembu should be developed as soon as land restitution takes place. A company called Thembuland Royal Treasury Holdings Ltd had been formed which was involved in developmental projects listed in the document. It was aimed at the skills development of the AbaThembu people.

The fourth founding pillar was the revival of the tribe’s norms, customs and traditions which formed the basis of their identity. They opposed the view that the practice of cultural norms was barbaric.

He turned to the issue of locus standi. The locus standi to bring the claims was listed under every third paragraph of the petitions. The Chiefs and ordinary tribal members had signed the resolutions which were filed with the documents submitted.  They also had locus standi in terms of Section 38 of the Bill of Rights in the Constitution of South Africa.   He emphasised the issue of locus standi to illustrate that Members were interacting with a group that had the requisite legal authority to present their case.

Still on the issue of locus standi he turned to the Framework Act that defined a tribe as having been established or recognised under legislation. Their tribe has been in the country for 2500 years. The Act defined customary institutions and structure in terms of customary law. In the petitions there is a genealogy of the Thembu tribe as on 30, 31 which is the basis of the current meeting. On that basis he believed he clarified locus standi which was a lawful institution pursuing lawful ends.

His Majesty proceeded to address each of the four petitions in detail:

Petition on land restitution

The purpose of that petition was to place on record certain facts relating to land in South Africa.

According to His Majesty, all the nine South African Provinces belonged to the Nation of AbaThembu. That was informed by a variety of factors that included but were not limited to historical factors, heritage factors, traditional factors, cultural factors and many more.                                                                                  

The Nation of AbaThembu in South Africa was estimated to be just above thirty-two million citizens. He explained that the current approach by the government on land restitution was not likely to yield positive results in resolving the land question.

The relief they sought included genuine engagement on land which ought to begin with the original landowners who are the AbaThembu Nation.

Petition on housing

The purpose of the petition was to introduce some strategies and tactics that could be implemented in order to fast track housing delivery. He referred Members to page four to five of the main petition.

Some of the strategies he offered included:

  • Improving the lawmaking process in housing to create policies and procedures that could address the identified challenges;
  • Simplify policies and procedures to increase housing delivery;
  • Raise funds for housing outside government; and
  • Develop a vibrant SME sector in housing.

The relief they sought was for Members to interrogate the petition and develop a mechanism that could eventually implement its contents.

Petition on justice system

The purpose of that petition was to highlight the manipulation of the South African justice system with the sole purpose of destroying the Nation of AbaThembu.

It appeared that the members of the African National Congress both inside and outside government were the leading players in addition to some white rightwing elements. Members were referred to page five of the main petition.

His Majesty indicated that around 1996 a debate was started in the public space about the alleged ‘Xhosa Nostra’ or Xhosa domination in strategic political and economic centers in South Africa. That debate spilt over to penetrate all the spheres of life in South Africa including government, the private sector and other spheres. The proponents of the Xhosa Nostra Project had effectively instigated members of society to act against the ‘Xhosa Nostra’ in their respective environments. Members were referred to page four and five of the main petitions. It appeared that the term ‘Xhosa Nostra’ had been directed to the leaders of Thembu origins to wipe out the nation. The Justice System is one of the tools that is used to silence the Thembu Nation.

His Majesty listed specific examples to substantiate the above submissions. The list was not exhaustive of issues constantly faced by the Thembu Nation in South Africa:

  • The late Ms Winnie Madikizela-Mandela’s mining company Chuma Holdings Ltd that she formed in 2002 appears to have been sabotaged from within ANC government circles.
  • The former King Buyelekhaya Dalindyebo of the AbaThembu Nation faced political persecution disguised as a criminal case which was revived after almost 11 years. As a result, Dalindyebo was eventually sentenced to 15 years imprisonment in 2009.
  •  The former State President Thabo Mbeki was dismissed from Cabinet in September 2008 based on the comments made by a former judge Nicholson in a case involving Mr Jacob Zuma. Such comments were patently unlawful, irregular and invalid hence the dismissal was likewise unlawful.

Further examples were detailed on page 12-24 of the main petition document.

Fake court cases had also been leveled against the Thembuland Royal Empire to collapse the nation.

His Majesty emphasized that the abuse of the justice system involved a series of fraudulent activities by the proponents of the Xhosa Nostra project.

The relief sought was twofold. On a short-term basis, they requested Members to enforce the rule of law on the specific cases mentioned to the best of Members’ ability.

On a long-term basis, Members should investigate the extent, impact and severity of the prejudice and damage suffered by the AbaThembu Nation and consequently put in place corrective measures.

Petition on socio-economy

His Majesty explained that the petition would illustrate that the ‘removal of the Xhosa Nostra’ - as set out in the above paragraphs under the justice system petition - from the South African public space had effectively spilt over to broader economic activity to the extreme prejudice of the AbaThembu Nation. It appeared that ANC members inside and outside government were the main players. It appeared that the main aim was to economically cripple the AbaThembu Nation.

His Majesty detailed specific example to substantiate these submissions. The list of issues was not exhaustive:

  • The mining company called Chuma Holdings Ltd founded by the late Ms Mandela was economically targeted. Her focus was to pursue socio-economic development to benefit the poor and marginalised masses of African people. It appeared that the company was sabotaged shortly after its formation until it eventually closed.
  • The HIV/AIDS debate and the standpoint of the former State President Mbeki was politicised and intentionally misrepresented with the sole intention of erasing his legacy in government. That was followed by the unlawful dismissal of President Mbeki from Cabinet in September 2008. Although these incidents appeared to be personal attacks on President Mbeki, the truth is that it was part of a campaign to remove and destroy the ‘Xhosa Nostra’ from powerful positions in South African public spaces. The presence of President Mbeki was viewed as a possibility that would provide economic benefits to the ‘Xhosa Nostra’ which resulted in his removal. The report of the Inspector-General Mr Ngcakani of March 2006 into the unlawful surveillance of Mr Saki Macozoma confirms this conclusion beyond the shadow of a doubt.

His Majesty referred to pages 12-24 in detailing further examples of the above economic oppression of the AbaThembu Nation

Similarly, the relief sought was two-fold. On a short-term basis Members were asked to enforce the rule of law on the specific cases. On a long-term basis Members were asked to investigate the extent, impact and severity of the prejudice and damages that have been suffered by the AbaThembu Nation and consequently put in place corrective measures.

Briefing by the National House of Traditional Leaders

Mr A Sithole, Secretary: National House of Traditional Leaders, explained that the National House of Traditional Leaders was established in terms of Section 2 of the National House of Traditional Leaders Act (NHTL):

  • The Act specified the composition of the NHTL membership;
  • It provided for the term of office of the House;
  • It provided the functions and responsibilities of the House;
  • The NHTL Act further provided for the establishment of the Chairpersons Forum (National and provincial) to ensure that there was sharing of programs and understanding on the processes of the NHTL; and
  • It further provided for the NHTL to engage the Kings of South Africa bi-annually.

Mr Sithole referred to the position of traditional leaders in South Africa and explained that the Act provided for the recognition of the following positions of traditional leadership in the Republic of South Africa:

  • King or Queen
  • Principal Traditional Leader
  • Senior Traditional Leader; and
  • Headmen/Headwomen

Mr Sithole was adamant that the above were the only recognised positions of traditional leadership in the country. Therefore, any other position not mentioned was not part of those that government and the people of South Africa were aware of. Consequently, the NHTL would not engage on something that was not legally recognised by the laws of the Republic.

In his presentation Mr Sithole set out the position of traditional leaders and land as follows:

  • Traditional Leaders met on several occasions on the matter of land;
  • The first critical meeting that was held was the Indaba of 2017;
  • In the Indaba one of the critical resolutions taken was that Government must transfer the current land that is occupied by traditional communities to traditional leadership structures which was the Traditional councils as indicated previously;
  • The Indaba agreed that government should transfer within six months or twenty-four months if there was no tool (legislation) to do so. The twenty-four months was for government to pilot a law through Parliament for the creation of a tool of transfer;
  • Further, the indaba resolved that there must be a land summit to handle the issues of communal land and such had not happened. Instead, government established an Advisory Panel on Land and Agriculture. The panel had almost completed its work, though it was finalising the consultation. The first report which indicated its direction was released;
  • Government further established the Inter-Ministerial Committee headed by Mr D Mabuza, Deputy President, that was looking at the land issue;
  • The land summit has not been held and it was proposed that it would be held soon in December 2019.
  • The NHTL further held the Lekgotla in 2018 and Tshivhidzo in 2019 to monitor progress on the 2017 Indaba resolutions. During the Tshivhidzo, traditional leaders acknowledged the report of the Panel but requested Government to speed up the land summit to finalise the issue of land.

In conclusion, Mr Sithole stated that the NHTL leaders would not engage on the Petition by the Emperor of AbaThembu because the NHTL only considered the King of AbaThembu, the now Acting King Azenathi Dalindyebo. It further recognised that the AbaThembu had two major communities who were AbaThembu of Rhode under Matanzima and AbaThembu of Dalindyebo under Acting King Azenathi. According to the decision of the Commission on Traditional Leadership Disputes and Claims all AbaThembu in the Republic of South Africa were under the Acting King Azenathi and nobody else. Any self-appointed position which was not as per the provisions of the law could not be entertained by the NHTL. The land matter was being handled as indicated above. Any development in the area under traditional leadership had to be fully consulted with the traditional leader and his/her community that included housing, mining etcetera.


His Majesty responded to Mr Sithole’s presentation and stated that most of the issues were not accurate.

The Acting Chairperson interjected saying that he would not allow such remarks as both parties had been given an opportunity to present for Members’ consideration. He advised that both parties exchange documents.

Mr Gxoyiya felt that the matter was a complicated one which required two or more days of engagement. It would serve no purpose to ask clarity seeking questions at that present moment.

He said Members needed clarity on the multiple issues raised such as the Kingdoms of King Azenathi Dalindyebo and King Dalinmvula. They were complex and would take a long time to understand. He therefore suggested that the NHTL and the Thembuland Royal Empire submit in writing the specific issues they were talking to in relation to the legitimacy of the Amathembu Kingdom and whether it was communicated to the Thembu Nation. That should be communicated to Members in writing.

He further added that Members would maintain constant engagement with both parties.

He registered a concern over Members visit to Ibumbasi where they attempted to resolve the issue but were met with hostility.

He suggested that the Committee note the presentations after which Members would go through them and communicate any clarity sought in writing. One such point of clarity was when His Majesty said that the AbaThembu had Kingdoms in all nine Provinces this might have been a slip of the tongue. Mr Gxoyiya was under the impression that there were only two Thembu Royal houses, one in the East and one in the West, so he was shocked to hear otherwise.

The Acting Chairperson confirmed that AbaThembu claimed they had Kingdoms in all nine provinces. He thanked the delegates for their presentations and stated that Members would go through them. Thereafter the Committee would deliberate on the issues and communicate with the stakeholders. 

He thanked everyone for attending the meeting.

The meeting was adjourned.

Share this page: