Traditional leaders: Eastern Cape
HOUSE OF TRADITIONAL LEADERS - BISHO.
Submission to the Portfolio Committee on Land Affairs on Land Affairs on the White Paper on South African Land Policy
Honourable Chairperson, members of the Portfolio Committee, Honourable Traditional Leaders here present, Ladies and Gentlemen, I greet you all in the name of African Royalty and my Chairperson Chief Nonkonyana. Honourable chairperson allow me to thank you and your committee for the invitation to come and make our voice heard in the land of our forefathers. I hope Sir, that, this is not just for the sake of procedure but for honest consideration of our views.
Land and Tenure Reform
The 87 % of the South African territory which is still in the hands of the white minority is in reality our ancestral land. There shall be no social and economic justice as long as this imbalance remains largely the same.
The previous apartheid regime cynically allocated to itself the right to hold tribal land in trust for the tribal communities. While tribes are the actual owners of the land the government remains the legal owner. This cannot be allowed to continue. Legal ownership of tribal land must be restored as a matter of urgency to its owners. The Communal Tribal land belongs to the tribe and not to the Government. Traditional Leaders - in -council hold the land in trust for the community and for their use in accordance with the needs and interests of the said communities. After all this title was stolen from the Traditional Leaders and their communities. The government is urged not to do anything to undermine traditional leaders in this regard.
We are aware of the requirement that women should not be discriminated against; after all in our system land allocation is done for the benefit of the wife and children. Properly applied, Customary law and common law provide enough safeguards to ensure that abuse does not occur.
The communal tenure system provides secure access to land for millions of indigenous families. The holders of land rights under the communal tenure system enjoy highly secure tenure rights. Under this system each family enjoys residential, arable and grazing land rights. Our system prohibits alienation of land rights through sale particularly to persons from outside the local community. However, special sites are allocated for business, development and other purposes. The development of our land must not be limited only to persons holding title deeds.
We noted with alarm and shock that the preamble to the Constitution declares that the " Land belongs to all who live on it". We maintain that the land belongs to BONAFIDE CITIZENS OF SOUTH AFRICA.
We therefore call upon the government to put a stop to the sale of South African land to foreigners. Any land available for sale must first be made available for redistribution to the landless and homeless South African citizens.
We are still of the view that research must be done to identify our ancestral lands which form part of the 87 %. This will enable the government to determine the extent to which the 1913 cut - off date in the restitution process has denied people the right to claim their land.
We are concerned that no information has been disseminated to rural traditional communities through traditional authorities regarding the availability of the R15000, 00 grant from the Department of Land Affairs for land acquisition and the R15000, 00 housing subsidy scheme from the Department of Housing, and therefore request the two departments to embark on a campaign to disseminate this information to the said rural traditional areas and that the two grants must be made available to these landless and homeless communities simultaneously and not alternatively.
The granting of the housing subsidy must not be conditional upon the ownership of a title deed since the communal land tenure form of land ownership has now been recognised by government.
The information about land reform pilot projects in the provinces must be disseminated to the rural communities and that traditional leaders must participate fully in the committees and structures which manage the projects.
In conclusion, we would like to remind people that tribal land is still sticky with the blood of our forebears, who laid down their lives in defence of it. Let there be no more blood spilled over it because of political agendas.
16th February 1998
Nkosi G.D. Gwadiso