Call for care on new land laws

Grocott's Mail - - OUTSIDE - STAFF RE­PORTER

Civil so­ci­ety and com­mu­ni­ty­based ac­tivists have warned that while new Bills be­fore Par­lia­ment pur­port to ad­vance land rights, along with cus­tom­ary law and the in­sti­tu­tion of tra­di­tional lead­er­ship, they con­tain pro­vi­sions that pose a threat to ru­ral democ­racy.

Var­i­ous civil so­ci­ety or­gan­i­sa­tions and ac­tivists par­tic­i­pated in a work­shop in Cape Town last week that fo­cused on a range of pro­posed laws af­fect­ing tra­di­tional lead­er­ship, tra­di­tional courts and forms of jus­tice, land and min­eral re­sources. Th­ese in­clude: • Tra­di­tional Lead­er­ship and Gov­er­nance Frame­work Amend­ment Bill, 2017 • Tra­di­tional Courts Bill, 2017 • Tra­di­tional and Khoi-San Lead­er­ship Bill, 2015 • Draft Com­mu­nal Land Ten­ure Bill, 2017 • Com­mu­nal Prop­erty As­so­ci­a­tions Amend­ment Bill, 2017

In a me­dia state­ment, the Al­liance for Ru­ral Democ­racy said, “While many of th­ese Bills pur­port to ad­vance cus­tom­ary law, land rights and the in­sti­tu­tion of tra­di­tional lead­er­ship, they con­tain pro­vi­sions that pose a threat to ru­ral democ­racy by un­der­min­ing ac­count­abil­ity, trans­parency and con­sul­ta­tion with cit­i­zens… At the same time that Par­lia­ment and gov­ern­ment are pro­cess­ing th­ese new laws, po­lit­i­cal strug­gles con­tinue on the ground.”

The Al­liance cited the ex­am­ple of the Bapo ba Mo­gale tra­di­tional com­mu­nity.

On 19 June the Pub­lic Pro­tec­tor re­leased a re­port about the so-called D-ac­count of the Bapo ba Mo­gale, man­aged by the pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment of North West. The re­port re­vealed that hun­dreds of mil­lions of rands were miss­ing from the ac­count and found fi­nan­cial mis­man­age­ment and mal­ad­min­is­tra­tion on the part of both the pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment and tra­di­tional author­ity.

A Com­mis­sion set up by North West Pre­mier Supra Mahumapelo to in­ves­ti­gate the lead­er­ship and fi­nan­cial woes of the Bak­gatla ba Kgafela tra­di­tional com­mu­nity had sim­i­larly un­earthed what ap­peared to be gross ir­reg­u­lar­ity in the man­age­ment of com­mu­nity funds and rev­enue from min­ing by gov­ern­ment and the tra­di­tional author­ity.

“Th­ese strug­gles play out within a na­tional con­text of elite cap­ture, inequal­ity, cor­rup­tion, and in­creas­ing in­tim­i­da­tion of ac­tivists and those seek­ing jus­tice for un­ac­count­able lead­ers in gov­ern­ment, tra­di­tional in­sti­tu­tions and the pri­vate sec­tor," the Al­liance wrote.

The Al­liance called on the gov­ern­ment and Par­lia­ment to al­low suf­fi­cient time for mem­bers of the pub­lic to un­der­stand and pro­vide in­puts on the pro­posed laws.

The also de­manded a say in the con­sid­er­a­tion of the Bills cur­rently be­fore Par­lia­ment that would fun­da­men­tally af­fect the rights and lives of peo­ple liv­ing in ru­ral and tra­di­tional com­mu­ni­ties.

Photo: Steven Lang

Aviwe Mati­wane.

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