Don’t touch our land, plead tra­di­tional lead­ers

CityPress - - News - ANDISIWE MAK­I­NANA andisiwe.mak­i­nana@city­press.co.za

Tra­di­tional lead­ers are not in­ter­ested in the broad de­bate of whether ex­pro­pri­a­tion works or not. All they want is to be ex­empted if it does be­come law.

The re­quest by tra­di­tional lead­ers to ex­clude com­mu­nal land from ex­pro­pri­a­tion was dis­missed by Jeremy Cronin, deputy min­is­ter of public works, at this week’s hear­ings into the Ex­pro­pri­a­tion Bill in Par­lia­ment.

In re­cent weeks, tra­di­tional lead­ers have been try­ing to ex­ert their pow­ers against those of lo­cal gov­ern­ment in public ap­peals to the gov­ern­ment not to un­der­mine their role as cus­to­di­ans of com­mu­nal land.

This week, in its sub­mis­sion to the Ex­pro­pri­a­tion Bill, the Na­tional House of Tra­di­tional Lead­ers (NHTL) asked gov­ern­ment to ex­clude com­mu­nal land from ex­pro­pri­a­tion. Mem­bers say if the gov­ern­ment goes ahead with ex­pro­pri­a­tion, they want to be con­sulted and want to work with mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties dur­ing the process.

Tra­di­tional lead­ers also want the public works min­is­ter to be the only au­thor­ity with the power to ex­pro­pri­ate land and say gov­ern­ment de­part­ments, pre­miers and mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties should not have these pow­ers.

Pre­sent­ing the sub­mis­sion to Par­lia­ment’s public works port­fo­lio com­mit­tee, NHTL deputy chair­per­son Sipho Mahlangu said: “We are say­ing we want to work with mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties. But it can­not be ac­cepted that the in­sti­tu­tion [of tra­di­tional lead­ers] will be ex­cluded and things will be parachuted in with­out en­gag­ing with those com­mu­ni­ties be­cause both of us are lead­ing the same com­mu­ni­ties and all of us want to see de­vel­op­ment.”

He said while some mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties were pro­vid­ing ster­ling ser­vices in a few tra­di­tional ar­eas, there were also con­tes­ta­tions and squab­bles be­tween coun­cil­lors and tra­di­tional lead­ers in ar­eas with no clearly de­fined roles.

“Some­times, be­cause of the squab­bles be­tween coun­cil­lors and the in­sti­tu­tion [of tra­di­tional lead­ers], land will be taken to si­lence the tra­di­tional leader so as not to have a say in de­vel­op­ments. We are say­ing the min­is­ter will be the per­son best suited to han­dle that process.”

Cronin replied: “We would not want to ex­clude com­mu­nal land from ex­pro­pri­a­tion be­cause there are rea­sons for ex­pro­pri­at­ing land … for public pur­poses.”

This is the sec­ond time tra­di­tional lead­ers have at­tacked a gov­ern­ment leg­isla­tive pro­posal.

Last month, they asked Ru­ral De­vel­op­ment and Land Re­form Min­is­ter Gugile Nk­winti to sus­pend the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the Spa­tial Plan­ning and Land Use Man­age­ment Act.

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