19 March 2018

South Africa: Parliament - Opt-Out, Traditional Courts Bill Supporters' Most Hated Clause


In Parliament's justice committee a push is under way to nix the Traditional Courts Bill's opt-out clause that was drafted following extensive consultation to ensure South Africa's 18-million rural residents do not forfeit constitutional rights. Why is this important? It talks to power relations in rural areas and whether customary law is viewed as a pre-colonial romanticised ideal or as living and evolving practice within a constitutional democracy. By MARIANNE MERTEN.

Traditional leaders publicly have invoked a list of grievances they claim undermine their rightful standing - from not being paid the same as elected public representatives, not enjoying the same perks of office to being slighted when it comes to elected governance structures like municipalities making decisions on land use or the introduction now of draft legislation to regulate initiations after years of scores of abakhwetha (initiates) dying or being left mutilated every initiation season. The list of complaints is long.

The ANC long has considered traditional leaders central to its support base, but that relationship also is complicated and complex. And so while the governing ANC has pursued laws to govern land use and spatial development to boost economic development, it has also left the door open to...

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