Tag Archive | Constitutional Court of the Communal Land Rights Act

President Zuma determined to push Traditional Courts Bill

Traditional courts mean two legal systems….

contralesa logoMinister of Justice Michael Masutha, has promised the return of the Traditional Courts Bill very shortly setting up a parallel system of justice in rural areas.  Minister Masutha was appointed by President in May 2014 and was answering a parliamentary written question.

The Bill was withdrawn last year in the form proposed.

The fact that the question was put by no lesser than Mathole Motshekga, the African National Congress chief whip and a member of the ANC department of legal and constitutional affairs, indicates a strong desire by President Zuma to see this Bill through during his tenure in office.

In his reply, minister Masutha, previously deputy minister of science and technology stated thejustice minister masutha introduction of the Bill would be accompanied by dialogue with all stakeholders and “the broader public”. The contents of the Bill will be extended to (inter alia) women’s groups, academics and the legal profession, he said.

Bill perceived as chauvinistic by many

The reason for mentioning women’s groups was no doubt specifically for the ears of those who furiously objected to the first version of the Bill including those of his own party and the then minister of justice, Lulu Xingwana.   It was said at the time that president Zuma had proposed the Bill as a trade-off with traditional leaders to get rural support.

opening parliamentOpposition leaders have stated that if the Bill is “anything like the first version it will not have a hope of passing a constitutional test” but, nevertheless, quite clearly justice minister Masutha must believe his new draft has got the wording right.

South Africa will have two legal systems

Whatever happens, the Bill is bound to give rise to objections from many from parties on a number of subjects not only from gender prejudice, to the aspect of legal anomaly and retarding constitutional development.

Dr Buthelezi, in his capacity as leader of the IFP, said of the last Bill that in debate in all nine provinces, five provinces gave mandates to vote to scrap the proposals, only two being favour, and even they did not support all the Bill’s provisions.  In the end, he noted, the Bill did not get past parliamentary committee stage in the NCOP. “Its end marked a major victory for rural people, who have opposed it since 2008”, he said.

Back to 1960

The point raised by Dr Buthelezi at the time was that such law that “would bring back oppression byLesedi traditional unaccountable leaders, many of whom were apartheid appointees, and it would also mean that the government is not committed to the equal citizenship as promised by the Constitution.”

His complaint was that the Traditional Leadership and Governance Framework Act of 2003 “locked rural people into the tribal boundaries created by the 1961 Bantu Authorities Act.”

“So now we not only have the resuscitation of the boundaries of the old bantustans but it is proposed that the chiefs are a fourth sphere of government within them.”   This, he concluded, was despite of the striking down by theof 2004 which gave control of land to traditional councils.

Bill “mediaeval”

lulu xingwanaLulu Xingwana said, as minister of justice at the time, said the proposals made in the Bill “took the issue of women’s rights back into mediaeval times”. Justice Minister Masutha, who will has tabled the Bill, comes himself from a small rural village in North Limpopo.  He studied for a BJuris degree at the University of Limpopo (then the University of the North) from 1985 to 1988, and obtained an LLB Degree from the University of the Witwatersrand in 1989.

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