The pleas of thousands of rural people who made difficult journeys to attend public hearings across the country are largely ignored in the amended version of the Traditional and Khoi-San Leadership Bill set to be adopted by the National Assembly this week. Appeals for consultation, the right to decide the use of their own land, accountability for revenues earned off their land and a say over the boundaries that define their identities — and many other rights — receive, at best, cosmetic attention in the draft bill adopted by Parliament’s co-operative governance and traditional affairs portfolio committee.
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LARC is a research and advocacy unit within the Law Department of the University of Cape Town concerned with power relations, and the impact of national laws and policy in framing the balance of patriarchal and autocratic power within which rural women and men struggle for democratic change at the local level. There has recently been a push from government to introduce laws and policies giving traditional leaders unaccountable powers over “subjects” living in the former homeland areas of South Africa.