South Africa: Why the ANC Is Bent On Conferring Colonial and Apartheid-Era Rights On Rural Chiefs

ANC flag (file photo).

Several bills before Parliament will entrench the colonial and apartheid-era powers given to often-illegitimate traditional leaders to exert absolute sway over their 'subjects'. This includes control over land distribution and mining rights. It is the mining rights, in particular, that have sparked a new scramble for Africa, a scramble marked by corruption, self-enrichment and environmental destruction.

One might imagine that a government deeply discredited by State Capture would wish to prevent any new opportunity for corruption and collusion. Quite the reverse: While lamenting looting in the upper echelons of the state, it is rushing bills through Parliament that will throw the doors wide open to new State Capture.

This time the opportunity will be at a more local level. The new legislation will strip millions of rural residents of their land rights, their rights to participation in a full democracy and their rights to access the country's full judicial system.

The new measures, designed to entrench and extend the power of traditional leaders, have barely surfaced in the pre-election debates between the political parties. But commentators have pointed out that the Traditional Courts Bill traps rural residents in a separate legal order that gives unprecedented power to chiefs. And that...

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