Call for care on new land laws
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.