TRALSO's Input on CLRB submissions
TRALSO 'S SUBMISSION ON THE COMMUNAL LAND RIGHTS BILL
Background of the Organisation
TRALSO is a land service organisation based in Umtata in the Eastern Gape. The organisation was established in 1991 as response to the frustrations of landless people who had suffered various forms of dispossession, which was aggravated by the glaring absence of a land administration system.
TRALSO's Vision remains to be a dynamic and innovative land based development service organisation in improving the quality of life of the rural people.
Our Mission has always been to seek:
· Make a knowledge based contribution to land reform policies
· Support the equitable access and ownership to land by rural communities
· Support the development of institutional capacity of rural communities
· Render effective, efficient and accountable service delivery in land and agrarian reform
· Facilitate sustainable productive use of land to improve livelihoods of communities
· Develop innovative and sustainable models of land use practices
TRALSO is deeply rooted in the livelihoods and land reform issues that have a direct impact on the lives of the rural people. As an organisation operating in the former homeland of Transkei, where communal system of land tenure is practised, we are concerned that the bill that GLRB, which is going to be passed in the next coming days appears to be carrying in it quiet a number of ills that will adversely affect people living in the communal areas. It is for that reason that TRALSO is voicing out her concerns around the CLRB.
TRALSO WOULD HIGHLIGHT THE FOLLOWING ABOUT THE CLRB
There was little and/or no consultation done in the rural communities and therefore the people are not aware of the practicalities of this bill and as such the Bill will have negative impact on them in improving their lives.
The Bill is giving powers to the traditional authorities for land administration.
The very same authorities were created under the Bantu Authorities Act of 1951 and we have experienced faction and land disputes relating to traditional leaders' legitimacy in some of the communities that we are working. We fee] that the bill will exacerbate the already tense relationships between certain chiefs and their subjects.
Section 12 of the Bill provides for comparable redress where tenure can not be legally secured, as it is required by the constitution. The problem is that the Bill does not unpack or elucidate on how it will address the issue of overcrowding and situations where there are layers of compromised, conflicting and overlapping of land rights in many of the communal areas in the former Transkei.
We also strongly feel that the Bill must unpack the conflicting of land rights in key specific areas such as the Nature reserves like Dwesa-Cwebe and Mkambati nature reserves.
Section 1 9(2) of the Bill provides the Minister with the powers to determine the location and extent of the land to be transferred to a community or person, a process that takes place after the Minister has received a report from the land rights enquirer. The people affected have no participation and/or any say in this decision.
As it is now, the Bill dumps the responsibility for sorting out and clarifying the mess of conflicting rights and legal regimes in communal areas onto unpaid community structures. The Bill gives the Land Administration Committee which does not have the relevant capacity powers of registering individual land tenure rights within their areas and also maintaining registers and records of all transactions. These types of functions were previously performed by full time paid professionals.
The Bill loosely states that the composition of the Land Administration Committee should include 30% women. There is no doubt that in such a committee women will still be in the minority and therefore will not rightfully represent all the women in a particular community. This will impact negatively on any decisions that are taken by this Committee, which will in turn affect all the women of that community. We strongly propose that the Bill must contain specific provision stating that so many women (specific number to be given) should be invited to attend these Land Administration Committee meetings.
Furthermore, women currently suffer severe discrimination in communal areas. We feel that this land legislation must protect and assert human rights that are gender sensitive in all communal systems of land tenure. As it is now, the Bill does not seem to solve women's problems that they are faced with under communal tenure. The Bill is intensifying the unequal and discriminatory nature of women's access to land under customary law since it does not require that household plots must be jointly registered as the property of husband and wife. In addition, TRALSO feels that the Bill must further assert the rights of rural women to acquire, hold and participate in the management of their land rights.
The Bill does not create a space for rural communities to challenge or stop land transfers. In the previous drafts the Bill provided for the community consultation and consent prior to land transfers, and enabled communities to choose the structure that would administer their land rights. All clauses requiring consultation, consent and majority decision-making have been stripped from the current version of the Bill.
Ex-homelands like the Transkei are the poorest parts of South Africa. Due to the lack of clarity about the status of land rights acts there has been very little progress on development and investment in these areas. TRALSO feels that land rights are a critical component to development.
It is on the above grounds that we do not think that the CLRB can be implemented successfully and take us forward. In no ways will such a Bill be capable of addressing the objectives that it is intended to. Instead of giving people progress in their pursuit for improved livelihoods, the CLRB is taking them backwards. We propose that this Bill be dropped at once and that the inclusion and participation of the rural voice be given a chance!