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.
It 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 the 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
Originally 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. 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.
Says 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.
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