KwaZulu-Natal MPLs known for pandering to the Zulu royal family, particularly close to elections, yesterday steered away from sensitive issues around the Ingonyama Trust’s land policies, which are viewed as oppressive to women.
The MPLs, who were debating the Upgrading of Land Tenure Rights Amendment Bill during a virtual special sitting, turned a blind eye to views that the measure did not go far enough as it failed to address the challenges faced by women living on the trust’s land. These include being barred from owning property within the trust due to certain Zulu customs.
Apart from DA MPLs, who abstained from voting, MPLs from other political parties unanimously endorsed the measure.
The amendment to the bill came after the Constitutional Court found that the previous version discriminated against women.
This is after a North West woman had challenged the previous bill, which she claimed prevented her as a woman from inheriting her parents’ property.
The property, the woman claimed, was subsequently given to her brother in accordance with apartheid-era customary legislation barring women from inheriting property.
Last month Western Cape Legislature MPLs declined to rubber-stamp the bill, saying the measure only catered for women living in certain parts of the country while doing nothing for the majority of women living in rural areas. DA MPL Martin Meyer said it was unacceptable that the bill was silent on women living on trust land who currently did not enjoy tenure rights.
“We need to ensure the rights of women living on communal land are protected,” he said.
However, ANC MPL and chairperson of the provincial legislature’s rural development portfolio committee, Ntombikayise Sibhidla-Saphetha, said the current bill was never meant to address all the challenges currently being faced by rural women.
“This bill is a direct response to a ruling made by the Constitutional Court on a specific matter. As we speak, there are a number of processes and initiatives designed to empower rural women and this particular bill is not meant to replace those,” she said.
The trust, which controls about 300 million hectares of land in KZN, has as its sole trustee the late Zulu king Goodwill Zwelithini kaBhekuzulu.
The Zulu royal family, which is currently in mourning following the recent death of the king, has substantial influence in the province.
While the EFF in the KZN Legislature supported the bill in its current form, EFF MPL Vusi Khoza said the main objective of the party was to see all land in the country being expropriated.
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“We want to express our view that there is only one solution to this dilemma: all South Africa’s land should be expropriated without compensation so that it can be returned to its rightful owners,” he said.
The bill is currently before the National Council of Provinces (NCOP).
The KZN Legislature’s decision to approve the bill paves the way for the provincial parliament to send a delegation to the NCOP so that it could vote in favour of the bill during the NCOP’s voting process.