News / South Africa / Protests

Felicia Nkhwashu
3 minute read
24 Apr 2019
7:33 am

Alliance for Rural Democracy to protest against ‘Bantustan bills’

Felicia Nkhwashu

The ARD said the two bills would create two separate legal systems, turning already marginalised rural citizens into subjects by depriving them of citizenship and property rights

Photo: Supplied

The Alliance for Rural Democracy (ARD) plans to protest against what they call the “Bantustan bills”.

The alliance has planned a march to the Union Buildings to protest against two bills passed by the national assembly, which, according to them, would effectively bring back the apartheid Bantustans in future, reports Pretoria East Rekord.

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The alliance was against the traditional and Khoi-San leadership bill, as well as the traditional courts bill.

National co-coordinator of the alliance Constance Mogale said protesters would march from Moretele park in Mamelodi on Monday from 9am, and called on the public to join.

“We are not happy about these bills and we are calling the public to help us defend democracy and equality in our country,” said Mogale.

Mogale said the traditional and Khoi-San leadership bill allowed traditional leaders to enter into deals with mining companies without the consent of the communities whose land rights would be affected, while the traditional courts bill would force people in rural areas to appear in the courts of traditional leaders without the choice of going to magistrate’s courts.

“If made into law, these bills will allow homeland chiefs to make deals with big business, chase people off their land, and force people to attend a traditional court,” she said.

Mogale said although traditions and culture needed to be respected and protected, it should be ensured that all people had democratic power and equality before the law.

“These bills do not do that. The traditional and Khoi-San leadership bill does recognise the Khoi-San people, but the rest of this bill is about giving new oppressive powers to unelected chiefs as the apartheid government did,” she said.

She said that the two bills created two separate legal systems and would turn the already marginalised rural citizens into subjects by depriving them of citizenship and property rights just like the colonial and apartheid governments did before.

“Furthermore, the bill on traditional courts does not include any protective mechanisms against gender discrimination in these dispute forums,” Mogale said.

Spokesperson for the department of co-operative governance and traditional affairs Musa Zondi said the traditional and Khosan bill dealt with the recognition of traditional and Khoi-San communities and leaders, and the establishment of certain structures such as houses of traditional and Khoi-San leaders.

“The bill does not deal with any matters relating to land, property rights or citizenship.”

Zondi said as far as the roles of recognised traditional and Khoi-San leaders were concerned, it was clear that these were advisory, facilitative, supportive, co-operative and participatory in nature.

He said such leaders would therefore not have any of the “powers” alluded to by Mogale.

“In fact, the bill, in clause 24, states clearly that any partnership or agreement to be entered into by, for example, a traditional or Khoi-San council, will be subject to the following:

(a) It must be beneficial to the community.

(b) It is subject to prior consultation with the relevant community and also a decision by the majority of community members present at such a consultation in support of the relevant partnership or agreement.”

Zondi said the bill therefore introduced specific measures aimed at ensuring that the relevant community’s interests were promoted and protected.

By the time of going to press, the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development had yet to comment on the planned protest.

For more information or any queries on the march, visit www.stopthebantustanbills.org

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