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Empty promises to rural people

Author: Nomboniso Gasa and Nolundi Luwaya

‘There is no doubt that SA is in dire need of more restitution for more people, but that requires a genuine commitment from the government.  And a genuine commitment will never be possible as long as the state’s laws and policies continue to make empty promises to rural citizens.’ These remarks, by Nomboniso Gasa and Nolundi Luwaya, of the Centre for Law and Society at UCT, in an analysis in The Sunday Independent, are in response to the NCOP’s approval last week of the Restitution of Land Rights Amendment Bill. The two lawyers point out that the Bill is silent on the pre-1913 period – which President Jacob Zuma and his Minister had earlier punted as a second chance for the Khoi, San and Africans, who were dispossessed before the ‘notorious 1913 Natives Land Act redesigned the South African landscape’. However, government later realised that the government could not go further back into history without amending the Constitution. Gasa and Luwaya argue further that in the light of unfinished previous claims and a serious lack of money, it is clear that the Bill has less to do with restitution and more to do with cementing the power of traditional leaders. Government had failed to deliver unfettered powers to them through the Traditional Courts Bill (TCB), which was defeated by opposition from ANC constituencies – unprecedented in the history of Parliament since 1994. They say that following the failure of the TCB, the restitution amendment Bill is the ‘gift’ that the President wants to give to traditional leaders. They add: ‘The lapsing of the TCB and the passing of the Restitution Bill pull together the threads that form a worrying picture – a picture that does not benefit rural people but which benefits the elite at the expense of rural people.’

Follow the links below to read the full analysis and to read the Bill:

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