Mbuyazi clan to bag R74m payout for mine built on ancestral land
DURBAN - After years of waiting, the community of the Mbuyazi clan in KwaMbonambi near Richards Bay will finally receive R74 million in development funding from Richards Bay Minerals (RBM).
RBM, which is owned by Rio Tinto, was ready and waiting since 2009 to make the payout in respect of mining on ancestral land which belongs to the local Mbuyazi clan, but a leadership dispute among clan members had delayed the release of the funds. The squabbling dragged on for 13 years.
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The company, which has been mining ilmenite, rutile and zircon from the beach sand in the area for at least four decades, is expected to make the announcement today at an event to be held in Kwa- Mbonambi.
Premier Willies Mchunu and the MEC for Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Nomusa Dube-Ncube, are also expected to attend.
The payout forms part of the 2009 empowerment agreement between the RBM and the Mbuyazi community.
RBM’s managing director, Billy Mawasha, said they were advised by Premier Mchunu to release the payout because appropriate structures were now in place.
“An administrator has been appointed to act as community leader and legally recognised trustees have been registered for both the community trusts,” he said.
The unresolved leadership wrangle is between Sithembile Mbuyazi, the widow of the late disputed chief, Sibusiso Mbuyazi, and the administrator of the clan, Martin Mbuyazi, who was appointed by Premier Mchunu in a bid to quell the squabbling in 2017.
Sibusiso was officially installed as Inkosi in 2007, two years after the death of the then leader Inkosi Mtholeni Mbuyazi.
But the family backtracked and presented Sibusiso’s half-brother, Mkhanyiseni Mbonambi, as the legitimate Inkosi.
Sibusiso and his wife, Sithembile, fought that decision all the way to the courts until his death in 2015.
The matter was set to heard in the Constitutional Court in August, but the Sunday Tribune understands that King Goodwill Zwelithini has intervened and will now decide who should be the clan leader.
Prince Thulani Zulu of the Royal Household confirmed that the matter was now in the hands of King Zwelithini but wouldn’t comment further, saying that he was not privy to the discussions.
Sithembile said: “I hope this will bring an end to the dispute which has lasted for years.
"We will comply with whatever decision that will be taken by King Zwelithini and I hope all parties will do the same,” she added.
Sithembile said it was deplorable that the infighting in the clan had delayed RBM’s payment.
“The money will change people’s lives immensely. It’s important for the matter to be put to bed once and for all,” she said.
Martin Mbuyazi has also said he will accept any decision taken by King Zwelithini.
RBM has disclosed that the R74.5 million will be shared between two trusts, with R35.3m allocated to a development trust and R39.2m to a public benefit trust.
Asked who would monitor the expenditure of the funds, Mawasha said: “Besides the trust deed itself, trustees are regulated by the Trust Property Control Act which articulates the trustees’ roles and responsibilities."