Submission by the Sekhukhuneland Ad Hoc Committee Land
Portfolio Committee on Agriculture and Land Affairs
10 November 2003
We are an adhoc committee on land from the Sekhukhuneland region. This committee was established on 12 Januarv 2003 at Leeuwfontein in the Greater Marble Hall Municipality. We represent five local municipalities of the Greater Sekhu~uneland District comprising Marble Hall, Groblersdal, Tubatse, Fetakgomo and Makhuduthamaga municipalities and their rural villages and residents respectively. Sekhukhuni District is composed mainly of poor rural communities, and has been selected as one of the nodal points of the governments Integrated Sustainable Rural Development Programme (ISRDP). Sekhukhuneland was characterised by popular resistance to apartheid, as well as tribal feuds over chieftaincy and land resulting from the Black Administration Act of 1927 and the Black Authorities Act of 1951.
2. Process of the Bill
A process of consultation in relation to the Bill was only partially undertaken with the first version (the August version) of the Bill made available for public comment. In our area there was some consultation on this August version, although this consultation was inadequate in that most people in the area still do not know about the Bill. There was no consultation or communication at all in relation to the latest version of the Bill (the October 2003 version).
3. Points to be Addressed
· rural people have no access to secure land and property rights;
· women, and in particular unmarried women, have no access to land rights (see section 24(3)(a)(i));
· there is tension between traditional authorities and local government over issues of development (see section 1 8(4)(a));
· there are boundary and land disputes as a result of the illegitimate 1993 land transfers to tribal authorities (for example Boschoek and Mmotwaneng villages);
· traditional chiefs still charge levies for land allocations and natural resource utilisation;
· rural people are still threatened with evictions by traditional chiefs; and
· there is also an overlap of processes - i.e. land claims and disputes remain unresolved with the imposition of this Communal Land Rights Bill;
In relation to the points listed above, we would like to make the following comments:
3.1. Securing Land Rights for the rural Poor
The Bill provides for a land allocating authority without clear or proper content being defined for new order rights, or clarity on who will administer those rights. These new order rights being provided for in this Bill are however not equivalent to ownership. The Bill also provides for application by holders of new order rights to Land Administration Committees or recognised Traditional Councils Section 3(2) of the Traditional Leadership Governance Framework Bill (TLGFB) stipulates that 40 per cent of members must be elected and 60 per cent come from traditional authorities.
While historically chiefs have not been fair and accountable to communities, it is our concern that communities cannot rely on chiefs to deliver land rights to the rural poor. We are particularly concerned that there is no provision for monitoring compliance on the part of Tribal Authorities.
3.2. Women's Land Rights
As noted above, women - and in particular unmarried women - have no rights to land. Residential and/or ploughing land is only allocated to women over the age of 40 years, and who have children.
3.3. Traditional Authorities versus Local Government
Conflicts between traditional leaders and municipalities are rife as a result of the lack of integration between these two institutions of power. For example, how does the Community General Plan and Community Rules (as required in section 6(b)(i) in ibis Bill) relate to the Integrated Development Plans (JDPs) established under the Municipal Systems Act of 2000. The Bill is silent on how these two institutions are To relate to each other.
Power struggles between chiefs and local government has resulted in the delay of development projects (for example, the Matseding housing project). Chiefs also refuse to participate in the activities of local government (as provided for in the Municipal Structures Act of 1998) Insecure rights in land has also led to investors not investing in projects in communal areas (for example the Flag Boshielo Eco-Tourism Project in Greater Marble Hall.
3.4. Land Allocations and Levies on Land
Rural people still 'buy' land for R500 to R1 500 from chiefs in the area. In return people receive receipts, but these receipts are not recognised as guarantee of ownership. There is confusion as to whether these payments are payments for sites or levies. There is also allocation of land to outsiders by the chief without consulting the community - for example, Chief Sekhukhuni III handed over land to a person of Indian origin without consulting the affected community. Our main concern is that with the Bill giving chiefs absolute legal power to allocate land and to collect levies the current situation will become worse.
3.5. Threats of Evictions by Chiefs
The definition of 'community' provided for in the Bill divides members of the community who do not have the same rights to land as the rest of the community. Tribes treat these non-members as outcasts. 'Buffer' tribes are also still threatened with eviction (for example, Mmotwaneng and Magaga Matala villages).
3.6. Overlapping Processes
With unresolved restitution claims and other land reform processes in the area, there is a danger that in rushing this Bill through, the issue will become even more complicated.
4. Implementation of the Bill
In relation to implementation of this Bill, we would like to make the following comments:
· The process envisaged in the Bill for converting old order to new order rights does not take into account material conditions on the ground.
· the Bill suggests a Land Rights Enquirer, with the Minister determining who gets what rights and for what purpose. Communities are given no opportunity to review this report.
· the scale and lengthy process envisaged are unrealistic. This is particularly so where the capacity of Traditional Councils or the Land Administration Committee is not guaranteed.
In closing we want to make the following recommendations:
5.1. that title deeds be transferred to individuals for residential sites;
5.2. that land for grazing and development purposes be dealt with through the process of the Bill;
5.3. in the case of privately owned farms, communities be given both residential, arid productive land rights;
5.4. that women, and in particular unmarried women, be given land rights in accordance with the Constitution;
5.5. that the content of the Community General Plan be clearly defined in relation to the areas Integrated Development Plan (IDP);
5.6. that land transfers made in 1993 between the Lebowa government and the National Party be nullified;
5.7. Since chiefs and Induna's are already being paid, tribal levies for land allocations and natural resource use be cancelled;
5.8. that the process of direct transfer of titles to individuals be speeded up to avoid eviction threats by chiefs