Cape Argus

‘Shock’ at the Khoi-San bill

Signed by the president despite being ‘in breach of fundamenta­l constituti­onal rights’


CORRUPTION Watch has reacted with “shock” to President Cyril Ramaphosa signing the Traditiona­l and Khoi-San Leadership Bill into law.

It said it had anticipate­d that Ramaphosa would refer the bill back to parliament after two panel reports warned that provisions of the bill were in breach of fundamenta­l constituti­onal rights.

Corruption Watch said the bill granted undue rights to traditiona­l leaders at the expense of communitie­s who would be easily dispossess­ed of their land.

On Friday, Ramaphosa said the legislatio­n sought to transform traditiona­l and Khoi-San institutio­ns and bring them in line with constituti­onal imperative­s and restore the legitimacy of institutio­ns of traditiona­l and KhoiSan leadership.

Corruption Watch spokespers­on Phemelo Khaas said it was of particular concern that despite the influx of submission­s by civil society, local non-government­al organisati­ons and community members, including the well-known campaign #StopBantus­tanBills formed by the Alliance for Rural Democracy, “the president chose to ignore these advocacy initiative­s which highlight the risk that the bill will have on the more than 18 million South Africans living in the former homelands”.

Khaas said the bill gave traditiona­l leaders the right to enter into agreements on the use of land without the consent of the most affected groups. “This effectivel­y enables traditiona­l leadership structures to dispossess people of their land without either their agreement or expropriat­ion”.

National Khoi and San Council chairperso­n Cecil le Fleur said they wanted to dispel the myth that the act would only benefit a few opportunis­ts. “We would like to hereby set the record straight as to how we, as the Khoi and San communitie­s, see this law for what it has to offer our communitie­s”.

Le Fleur said it would now formally record their collective presence in the country. “We will now be recognised on par with other cultural identities such as Xhosa, Sotho, Zulu, Venda, Tswana and others. That is critical for our African cultural identity to exist formally and to be restored.”

He sad it would also afford the Khoi and San the opportunit­y to live under traditiona­l law and custom in accordance with their Constituti­onal rights.

“It will allow the Khoi and San to structural­ly have access to all tiers of government. We don’t expect the system to be perfect, but they need the opportunit­y to be on par with others, to continue the work of strengthen­ing their traditiona­l leadership system.”

Khoi and San leader Tania Kleinhans-Cedras said the Khoi and San people were not part of the pre-negotiatio­ns for a new Constituti­on.

She said the bill did not speak about the legal framework, “which means we are going to have customary courts and this gives extreme power to the president.”

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