Tag Archive | Traditional Courts Bill

Here it comes again…. the Traditional Courts Bill

Dubious motives ……..

justice minister masuthaMinister of Justice Michael Masutha is to re-table once again the Traditional Courts Bill setting up a parallel system of justice in rural areas,  he says.   Minister Masutha was appointed by President Zuma in May 2014 and this same Bill, known to have the President’s wishes behind it, was withdrawn last year in the form it was proposed. It was thought by many to have been scrapped.

Whether this is an election ploy or whether a draft will actually appear from the Ministry of Justice for public comment remains to be seen. Should it appear, in whatever shape and form, it will have to be debated as a Section 76 Bill by all nine provincial legislatures. At least five would have to approve it for the Bill to move forward from the NCOP to the National Assembly.

Gender insensitive

It was said at the time by the media when President Zuma originally withdrew the Bill that it had been proposedtraditional chiefs
as a trade-off with traditional leaders to get rural support. The Bill then was perceived as chauvinistic by many and was certainly frowned up by legal professionals as a distinct attempt to set up two legal systems and was therefore constitutionally unacceptable.

Lulu Xingwana, at that particular time Minister of Women, Children and People with Disabilities, said the proposals “took the issue of women’s rights back into medieval times”. Her ministry was subsequently closed down.

Unexpectedly, the incumbent Minister of Justice, before his 2015/6 budget vote debated just before Parliament went into recess, told a parliamentary media briefing that he intended to re-introduce the Bill as “a priority”. He added. “We are working with representatives from traditional leadership and civil society to take this process forward, with a view to introducing the Bill in June.”

Majority provinces voted against

butheleziDr Mangosuthu Buthelezi, in his capacity as leader of the IFP, said of the old Bill when it was debated by all nine provinces, that five provinces had put in votes to scrap the proposals entirely, two would not make a decision and only two were in favour. Even then, said Mangosuthu Buthelezi, the two in favour did not support all the Bill’s provisions. In the end, he noted, the Bill did not even get past parliamentary committee stage in the NCOP.

“Its demise marked a major victory for rural people who had opposed it”, he said.    Mangosuthu Buthelezi’s view was that the Bill would bring oppression by traditional and unaccountable leaders many of whom were apartheid appointees. “It would have meant also the resuscitation of some of the boundaries of the old Bantustans”, he added.

Four tiers of govt

Chief Buthelezi also noted at the time that the Bill would mean that chiefs would become a fourth tier of government, something the country could ill afford. The Minister of Justice’s next move should be to gazette a draft for public comment.

Previous articles on category subject
President Zuma determined to push Traditional Courts Bill – ParlyReportSA
Zuma goes for traditional support with expropriation – ParlyReportSA

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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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Zuma goes for traditional support with expropriation

Editorial….

Session ahead may bring clarity on expropriation…….

NAIt is a difficult time for business and industry to establish exactly where they are in terms of the legislative environment in South Africa, land expropriation and state or BEE participation being mainly the issues.  However, the cabinet must be aware of the need expressed in many circles for more certainty in terms of the investment climate.

The Bills held back by the Presidency for re-consideration or signature are re-emerging slowly back into the public sphere.   Aside from the highly controversial Traditional Courts Bill adding power to the arm of President Zuma’s supporters in rural  leadership roles but offending women’s rights groups, now re-tabled in Parliament in a different form, as a section 76 Bill, is the Expropriation Bill.

Being a 76 section Bill means that the proposed changes and the formation of a state valuator’s office as thezuma traditional final arbiter on land restitution will have to be debated in all nine provincial legislatures and a mandate provided to the National Council of Provinces to gain concurrence with any vote on the Bill taken in the National Assembly. 

It is interesting to note that some time ago, President Zuma let it be known that he would also like to see this Bill considered by the House of Traditional Leaders. This is probably in the light of the debate now emerging that traditional chiefs were not consulted properly, if at all, in terms of the Restitution of Land Rights amendments.

Serving notice

Crucially, the Expropriation Bill still seeks to allow any ‘expropriating authority’ to take property by serving a notice of expropriation on the owner stipulating the value the state will pay, presumably according to the state valuation if there has been an appeal.

Commentators have noted that the new Bill differs in that the state may then serve a further notice of expropriation, which could be less, more or not necessarily revised at all, and the owner will be deemed to have accepted that transfer of land to the state unless the owner commences litigation within 60 days.

The short amount of time to respond and appoint and brief counsel and the fact that litigation, a highly costly process (costs being to the owner not the state), will no doubt be an issue debated extensively in Parliament. At this moment the main opposition party has been caucusing on the Bill. The fact that the Bill will now have to be debated in all nine provinces will leave a fluid situation for some time yet.

Struggling to produce

The Protection of Investment Bill remains an unknown quantity. Speaking to the DTI legal advisor, all he could say was “We are struggling with it”. 

Similarly, no tabling notice has been published with regard to the Private Security Industry Bill.

No energy  outcome

At the time of writing the “Five Point Energy Plan”, promised by the cabinet “war room”, has also not been presented to Parliament, the minister of energy advising all that it was necessary to have first a trip to the DRC and discuss the Grand Inga Hydro project.

Instead of her unadvised non-appearance in Parliament, a presentation by the department of energy took place, monitored in this report. What did emerge however was that future regarding the intended energy mix is also very fluid, there clearly being a division of interest in what is necessary to bring about in the short term better service delivery to the poor and in the longer term the needs of investors.

Traditional support

Time and time again, since his state address to the nation, President Zuma, where land matters are concerned, has made reference to the Council of Traditional Leaders, the majority party having no doubt realised that this base of power can either be pacified or radicalised – a very sensitive area and where the least service delivery by government occurs.

In his speech opening the National House of Traditional Leaders, he encouraged traditional leaders to take advantage of the 2013 Restitution of Land Rights Act as amended and rushed through at the end of the last Parliament and for them to put in claims.

The amendment Bill passed reopened the window for lodging restitution claims, but retains the restriction that dispossession must have taken place after 1913. The hints by the President in subsequent days in further briefings that the date of 1913 “is negotiable” have led to further claims being notified some of them apparently going back many hundreds of years. 

Once again, this will only be finalised when parliamentary debate finally takes place as the issue is bound to be raised but the whole matters adds to current uncertainty.

Hole in the pocket

Meanwhile the budget for what can be paid out in the form of restitution has been decided by minister of finance Nene and was presented in the last budget to Parliament in the current session.

President Zuma’s reference in Parliament to land held by foreigners in the state of nation address produced an unfortunate atmosphere which was somewhat mollified by off-the-record remarks by ministers to the media but no legislative clarity for Parliament to consider has emerged.

Indeed, a difficult time for business and industry, not forgetting that the Eskom issue is about to be raised again in forthcoming portfolio committee meetings in the coming week, hopefully bringing some clarity to the issue of reliable electricity supply.

Editorial only

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Land reform: Something very sad is going on

Apartheid debate goes back to land reform….

Minister Manuel and President Zuma are said to have repaired their relationship over Manuel’s demand that the governing party and state departments overcome their obsession of blaming apartheid for all their non-delivery performance statistics such as land reform, which excuse has also been constantly appearing in parliamentary and departmental report backs.

However, there lies a much deeper controversy building and this is maybe why the subject of apartheid, being such a dead-end route, was again raised.

Traditional roots

reed danceIt all goes back to disruption appearing at grass roots level in the apparent attempts by the ruling party to ignore gender “apartheid” in rural areas and what has been described as “locking approximately 16 million people into tribal land divisions ruled by customary law and baron chieftains”, areas originally defined in many cases by the dreadful Land Acts of 1913 and 1936.

But how does this affect business and industry since the matter seems so unrelated to the daily grind and to the economics of running a mining house, an investment business, a manufacturing plant or a marketing venture?

It deeply affects us all in the same way that the failure of the rail system means that commuters can’t get to work and in this case, where delivery of service and utilities goes back to apartheid structures that were unfair, caused fifty years of bloodshed and delivery service is so poor. People, mainly workers, get unhappy, cause unrest and may strike.

Apartheid was about land

We only have to look north from the Middle East to Zimbabwe to see it happening everywhere.   Land is usually the issue that provides thelandseizures grenade pin but refusal to reform is probably the catalyst.

Trevor Manuel is right, of course, from the aspect that we should get on with job of re-building the country and not find lame excuses such as playing the apartheid card as reasons for failure. The explosion from ANC policy makers was immediate and it seemed that Manuel had scored a bulls-eye.

President Zuma responded directly bearing in mind that he leads a determined effort to reinforce legislation that provides support powers to traditional chiefs, originally bestowed in the apartheid years to re-enforce the hated Bantustan division of land, thus re-enforcing the same divisions in what appears to be a chase for rural political power.

Bantustans or homelands

homelandsOriginally apartheid was implemented at every level of society: education, transportation, business, entertainment, employment and religion but at its most fundamental level it was about control of the land. This still forms the base of the problem.

Laws in this area introduced by ANC are the Traditional Leadership and Governance Framework of 2003; the Traditional Courts Bill; some eight provincial leadership laws and now before Parliament is the National Traditional Affairs Bill which attempts to bolster the chief’s monopoly on rural land.

All this in the light of the current and completely opposite Restitution Act of 1994 on the statute book on the one hand existing and now supported by the introduction of an Expropriation Bill on the other, all of which seems the very antithesis of support being given to leaving vast tracts of land in the hands of chiefs who govern by their own set of rules and laws.   Traditional courts.

In Britain, the monarchy lost its judicial powers hundreds of years ago and in France the monarchy was simply eradicated.houses of parliament In South Africa, we don’t seem to be able to make up our minds.

It would seem that aside from making a mockery of the land reform programme, the ANC  is courting not only a constitutional challenge, a subject bound to be raised in Parliament when the Bill is debated or even during parliamentary hearings, but the alienation of a vast section of his own progressive supporters.

UCT logoSays University of Cape Town on its Research Centre For Law and Society website, “The Traditional Courts Bill has raised numerous questions as to whether traditional courts should have criminal jurisdiction at all, and if so, which kind of offences they should try and what sort of punishment may be imposed.”

“Our research on traditional courts in one area reveals that cases undertaken in traditional courts include assault, murder and rape, to name a few, indicating that social contact crimes are at times being dealt with by the traditional justice system.”

“On the other hand”, says the article on the website, “it is evident through SAPS reports that certain crimes, such as property-related crimes, although they can be dealt with through traditional courts, are nonetheless taken to the police. This indicates not only a fluid relationship between the two justice systems, but also a blurring of categories of crimes.”

Blurring of constitutional issues is, however, a lot more serious. Especially on the land ownership issue.

Associated articles archived:
http://parlyreportsa.co.za//justice-constitutional/spatial-planning-land-use-management-bill-moves-on/

http://parlyreportsa.co.za//cabinetpresidential/minister-says-need-for-legislation-on-land-reform-a-priority/

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