It was announced this week that President Cyril Ramaphosa has signed the Traditional and Khoisan Leadership Bill.

According to a statement by the Presidency the ostensible purpose of the Bill is to “to transform traditional and Khoi-San institutions in line with constitutional imperatives, such as the Bill of Rights, and restore the integrity and legitimacy of the institutions of traditional and Khoi-San leadership in line with customary law and practices.” 

The Land Accountability and Research Centre (LARC) expressed concern that these new measures are going to “enables dispossession without consent”.

It will mean that mining and investment companies will no longer need to consult the community as the community will no longer have customary ownership and land rights. A case in point is the Xolobeni community in the Eastern Cape, who for the past ten years have been attempting to oppose the rights of an Australian mining company, Mineral Commodities Ltd (MRC) to utilise the minerals in their lands. Until now MRC has put huge pressure on the community and there have been 12 suspicious deaths.

Mark Heywood, writing in the Daily Maverick, noted that these new measures come alongside another piece of proposed legislation, the Traditional Courts Bill, which will create a dual system of law in South Africa, making one law for poor rural citizens and another for their urban compatriots. Especially vulnerable are rural women and children.

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