18 FEBRUARY 1998

The Free State House of Traditional Leaders hereby express its gratitude for being invited to make further inputs on the land policy of this country. The White Paper on South African Land Policy does not sufficiently address the so called" Tribal land" except to say that there are also tribal authorities which do not function democratically and which operate in ways which undermine the Constitutionally entrenched basic human rights of members. The White Paper does nor substantiate this allegation by explaining in which way are tribal authorities:
(a) Undemocratic
(b) Undermining the constitutionally entrenched basic human rights of members

Traditional Leaders and authorities have made substantial contributions towards the formulation of the White Paper but from the look of the White Paper the only inference that a person can draw is that they have not been taken into consideration. It is therefore our earnest appeal that our inputs should not be a futile exercise but should be taken seriously in the development of South African Land Policy.

The previous apartheid government bestowed upon itself the right to hold the land in trust for rural communities. The tribes are de facto owners of land whilst the government is the de jure owners. This situation still persists although the government want to transfer legal ownership of land to the people. The type of communal ownership that the government has in mind is through communal Property Associations. This type of ownership may be practiced somewhere but not in the areas of traditional authorities. Through Traditional Authorities the whole of the people own the whole of' the land and the traditional leader in council hold the land in trust for the whole of the people. This type of ownership ensures that communal land cannot be easily alienated. Any decision regarding the use or disposal of such land is made democratically in that the traditional leader sit with their elected councillors to make such decision. We are also against individual ownership of land in our areas in order to protect the poorest of the poorest against "land barons" who will rob them of their land for a small fee. It must also be emphasized that individual ownership of land by way of title deeds is foreign to the African masses and that the only system known to Africans has been the communal system. This type of ownership has never fainted and if so why change it? We must remain conscious of the fact that we are in Africa and not in Europe.

There is also an allegation that the Institution of Traditional Leadership discriminate against women with regard to land ownership. While we concede that this might have been so in the olden times we state that the institution of traditional leadership is dynamic and not static. Today women have access to land and also sit in traditional councils.

We applaud the passing of the extension of Security of Tenure Act which amongst others protects people from unlawful evictions and make them eligible for land and housing subsidies without title deeds. We urge the department to come with some innovative ways to modify the permissions to occupy in such a way that they become acceptable to financial institutions without upsetting communal land ownership

We hope that our inputs will be considered in the development of the White Paper on land policy of South Africa.

Morena M.F. Mopeli