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By Citizen Reporter

Journalist


DA calls on SAHRC to probe ANC govt for ‘denying land ownership’ for rural citizens

The DA has accused national government of violating Section 25 (6) of the Constitution.


The Democratic Alliance (DA) has called on the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) to investigate the ANC-led government for human rights violations for allegedly denying land ownership to rural South Africans.

DA leader John Steenhuisen on Friday led a delegation of the party in a meeting with the SAHRC in Johannesburg.

Land reform in rural areas

The official opposition party lodged a complaint with the commission and requested an investigation into claims that national government failed to enact meaningful land reform in rural areas.

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The DA said the lack of progress in land reform was a violation of South African citizens’ constitutionally-enshrined rights to dignity, equality and property ownership.

“At the heart of this complaint lies government’s failure to implement Section 25 (6) of the Constitution which explicitly states that ‘a person or community whose tenure of land is legally insecure as a result of past racially discriminatory laws or practices is entitled, to the extent provided by an act of Parliament, either to tenure that is legally secure or to comparable redress’,” Steenhuisen said in a statement.

Security of tenure

The DA leader said Section 25 (6) of the Constitution was “constantly scapegoated” by the ANC for the lack of land justice.

He said the section not only enables but, in fact, obliges government to provide security of tenure and/or title ownership to poor rural South Africans.

“The South African government has clearly failed to ‘respect, protect and observe’ the property rights of communal land communities who were robbed of their dignity as a result of past discriminatory laws and practices.

“This also constitutes a violation of the right to equality, as rural citizens living on trust land are not treated the same as citizens elsewhere who do enjoy the right to property ownership and security of tenure.”

These violations fall squarely within the investigative mandate of the SAHRC, Steenhuisen said.

‘Tribes of natives’

He said the DA uncovered recently through a series of Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA) requests that vast tracts of trust land – around 10.5 million hectares in the country’s fertile eastern provinces of KwaZulu-Natal, the Eastern Cape and Mpumalanga – were still owned by apartheid government entities.

These entities were the Minister of Native Affairs, the South African Bantu Trust and the Government of the Transkei.

“So not only is the ANC government unwilling to grant these citizens property rights and security of tenure, they also have to suffer the indignity of living on land that is effectively still owned by the likes of Hendrik Verwoerd and other National Party Ministers of Native Affairs.

“It is unthinkable that, almost thirty years into our democracy, millions of desperately poor South Africans are still regarded by their government as second-class citizens – ‘tribes of natives’ who don’t have the right to own their own land.”

Steenhuisen said it was shameful that this year there was still no act of Parliament that fulfills Section 25 (6) of the Constitution.

“The DA calls on the SAHRC to investigate this violation of the constitutional rights of citizens to equality (Section 9), dignity (Section 10) and property rights (Section 25), and to then compel government to rectify this by enabling Section 25 (6) of the Constitution through an act of Parliament, instead of merely scapegoating it for three decades of their own failure.”

Compiled by  Thapelo Lekabe

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