University allegedly grants King Zwelithini an honorary doctorate for land

University allegedly grants King Zwelithini an honorary doctorate for land

- King Goodwill Zwelithini is due t get his second honorary doctorate

- The belief is that the University has grated the honorary doctorate in turn for the King to sign over land to the University

- The council approved a budget of R250 000 for his celebrations, out of the proposed 1 million

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There is talk that a second honorary doctorate be bestowed on King Goodwill Zwelithini. Due to this the University of Zululand is under attack for its plans.

In 1994, the king received an honorary doctorate in agriculture for his role in promoting agriculture. Dlangezwa Campus in Empangeni, 16 kms from Richards Bay, plans to honour the Zulu king at the university’s special graduation ceremony. There is doubt been expressed by senior academics surrounding the university’s intentions. They accusing the university of bending over backwards to honour the king in order for him to approve the land on which the institution is built and transferring it to the university’s name.

The honorary doctorate will be awarded to the king this week for “his far-reaching vision and vital contribution in combating social ills among the youth and the society at large” through his Bayede Trust established in 2006.

With the king been honoured twice, The Save UniZulu Community, comprising of senior academics among other interest groups, said something was suspicious and strange with the king receiving a second doctorate.

Mdu Dlamini, the community’s liaison officer, said: “It looks like a high measure of corruption because we know what informs the conferring of a degree. We know that the university wants a title deed. You know a title deed is a major asset. Once it has it, the university can borrow huge monies. If it gets that title deed the community will never have a say.”

Gcina Nhleko, UniZulu spokesperson, said: “The university does not nominate people for honorary doctorates. Rather, it receives nominations from parties, in this instance the Bayede Foundation which is his majesty’s charitable wing. I suggest you liaise with it on its nomination.”

When Nhleko was asked about the procedures to honour the king for the second time, she did not respond. No response was given by Nhleko either to the allegations that the university was only honouring the king to acquire a title deed for the land and this requires the king’s approval for the transfer.

The chief executive director of the Bayede Foundation, Rhana Naicker, confirmed that this week’s event would mark the second conferment of an honorary doctorate to the king. Rhana insisted that the honours were from two completely different faculties.

“The king’s foundation is instrumental in tackling all forms of social ills in rural KwaZulu-Natal among the most vulnerable populace. His majesty performs these functions in collaboration with various partners ... the conferment of the honorary doctorate was motivated as a result of the enormous contribution of his majesty’s impact on society and it would be sad to have his efforts now being questioned by disgruntled individuals.”

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Naicker said that the questions posed to her regarding the allegations that UniZulu wanted the king’s approval for land transfer, will be transferred to the king’s adviser, Dr Themba Fakazi.

No response was received from Fakazi at the time of going to print.

UniZulu vice-chancellor professor Xoliswa Mtose, on the understanding from City Press, wrote a letter in September last year to Chief Mandla Mkhwanazi. Mkhwanazi presides over Kwa-Dlangezwa, where the institution’s main campus is built. The letter requested support for the transfer of land ownership from the SA Development Trust to UniZulu.

The university is built on 1 561 412 hectares. An amount of R2.7 billion had been proposed, allegedly owned by the Ingonyama Trust.

In the letter, seen by City Press, Mtose requested Mkhwanazi to write “an endorsement letter in support of the transfer of land” to the university.

The land transfer matter has to be resolved according to the department of higher education and training and the department of rural development and land reform.

There is no clarification whether Mkhwanazi has responded to this letter. City Press’ calls and text messages where ignored.

Gwebinkundla Qonde, director-general of the higher education and training department, wrote a letter to Mtose on 11 December 2017. The letter was confirmation the department’s support for the land transfer.

City Press having seen the letter, Qonde said the land in question was 1 561 412ha.

“The department confirms its support of this land transfer for UniZulu without reservation and we appreciate the land affairs department’s willingness to conclude this land transfer at a proposed reasonable offer of R1 750 a hectare ... The university is part of a feasibility study on a student housing programme that is being conducted at five universities and at one technical and vocational education and training college and the issue of land ownership transfer is crucial for the proposed development of a student village on this campus.”

On 7 November 1977, the university was merely granted permission to occupy the land. According to Lunga Ngqengelele, spokesperson for Higher Education and Training Minister, Naledia Pandor, it was only discovered in late 2016 that the university did not own the land.

Ngqengelele said with the abolition of the SA Development Trust in 1992, the land was retained by the state.

The land affairs minister back then, on 1 July 1997, approved the sale of land to the university on condition other parties also gave their permission.

Mdu Ncalance, spokesperson for the City of uMhlathuze, said the city was approached by the king’s foundation requesting contributions towards the celebrations. On 28 March, the council took a decision to co-host the celebration for the conferment of the honorary doctorate to the king.

A contribution from the city of at least R1 million was proposed by the foundation. Ncalane said the council only approved a budget of R250 000. The reasons for this amount was that the event would most likely attract national and international tourists. With this, the local economic will benefit and development in tourism as well as funding the marketing and branding of the city would transpire.

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