New laws would make some more equal than others, argues Steven Friedman

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South Africans continue to live in parallel universes defined by the geography of apartheid and laws currently making their way through Parliament will consolidate rather than correct this reality, Prof Steven Friedman of the University of Johannesburg argues in a newspaper column.

“Is South African democracy only for city people? If not, why does no-one notice when the government works with chiefs and some companies to ram deals down the throats of rural people without their approval, particularly since this could change the course of the next election,” Friedman asks in a Business Day column posted to his own Facebook page.

He refers in his column to the Traditional Leadership and Governance Framework Amendment Bill currently working its way through Parliament and warns that it would legitimise Traditional Councils that have failed over 13 years to align with the law. If it goes through in its current form, it would legitimise deals struck by these councils to the detriment of the people they ought to serve.

The TLGFA amendment and the Traditional and Khoi-San Leadership Bill depend upon the boundaries of apartheid’s so-called “homelands”, leaving those living within in them fewer rights than others living outside the lingering shadow of statutory segregation.

“More is at stake than evidence that there is one standard in the cities, another in the country. Most explanations of why the government is keen to support deals by traditional leaders claim it is courting the rural vote. If it is, this may backfire badly,” Friedman says.

If the government continues on this path, rural citizens might use their vote to reverse state capture and to change the the face of the country.

Read Prof Friedman’s column here

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