Rural South Africa Is On a Precipice
Author: Mbongiseni Buthelezi and Sithandiwe Yeni
The murder of Sikhosiphi “Bazooka” Rhadebe, a leading opponent of titanium mining in Xolobeni in the Eastern Cape, marks a crisis that has been building for over two decades around land and chiefs in rural black South Africa.
Rhadebe, chairman of the Amadiba Crisis Committee, was killed on 22 March 2016. The context of his murder is a scramble for self-enrichment by chiefs which is not confined to the Wild Coast.
A raft of laws since the advent of democracy has progressively given power over land and people to traditional leaders. An delay of almost 10 years after the first democratic elections of 1994 in defining the roles and powers of chiefs created a vacuum into which some ambitious chiefs drove their agenda of being local despotic sovereigns like many were in Bantustans.
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