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Rural Governance in Post-1994 South Africa: Has the Question of Citizenship for Rural Inhabitants been Settled 10 Years in South Africa's Democracy?

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Type: Conference Paper
Author: Ntsebeza, Lungisile
Conference: The Commons in an Age of Global Transition: Challenges, Risks and Opportunities, the Tenth Biennial Conference of the International Association for the Study of Common Property
Location: Oaxaca, Mexico
Conf. Date: August 9-13
Date: 2004
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10535/2319
Sector: Social Organization
Land Tenure & Use
Region: Africa
Subject(s): IASC
governance and politics
rural affairs
citizenship
democracy
state and local governance
land tenure and use
legislation
Abstract: "Against the background of rural local governance that was dominated by apartheid created authoritarian Tribal Authorities, the post- 1994 South African state has committed itself to the establishment of an accountable, democratic and effective form of governance throughout the country, including rural areas falling under the jurisdiction of traditional authorities (chiefs of various ranks). However, I argue that the promulgation of the Traditional Leadership and Governance Framework Act and the Communal Land Rights Bill (CLRB) runs the risk of compromising this project. The Framework Act establishes traditional councils which are dominated by unelected traditional authorities and their appointees, while the CLRB gives these structures unprecedented powers over land administration and allocation. This raises, I argue, serious questions about the meaning of democracy and citizenship in post-1994, in particular for rural people. Rural citizens do not seem to enjoy the same rights as their urban counterparts who elect their leaders. Against the background of rural local governance that was dominated by apartheid created authoritarian Tribal Authorities, the post-1994 South African state has committed itself to the establishment of an accountable, democratic and effective form of governance throughout the country, including rural areas falling under the jurisdiction of traditional authorities (chiefs of various ranks). However, I argue that the promulgation of the Traditional Leadership and Governance Framework Act and the Communal Land Rights Bill (CLRB) runs the risk of compromising this project. The Framework Act establishes traditional councils which are dominated by unelected traditional authorities and their appointees, while the CLRB gives these structures unprecedented powers over land administration and allocation. This raises, I argue, serious questions about the meaning of democracy and citizenship in post-1994, in particular for rural people. Rural citizens do not seem to enjoy the same rights as their urban counterparts who elect their leaders."

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