Struggles to assert self-definition against ascribed tribal identities

One of the earliest lessons I learned as a student of history is that there is no singular history. Instead, multiple histories are produced and exist alongside and intersect with each other, representing different perspectives and accounts of events. Similarly, there is no one version of identity, knowledge or culture – there are knowledges, cultures and identities. Each reflects different relationships to, and expressions of, power.

These tensions around singular and plural versions of identity are made visible in current and proposed legislation on customary law, both in the Traditional Leadership and Governance Framework Act (TLGFA) of 2003 and the Traditional Courts Bill (TCB), currently before parliament. The TLGFA asserts the exact boundaries used to make up the Bantustans under the 1951 Black Authorities Act. The TCB, if adopted, would centralise power in traditional leaders, allowing them to be the sole interpreters of customary law and denying people within the TLGFA boundaries the right of opting out of traditional courts to use state courts.The boundaries related to these two pieces of legislation have drawn wide criticism, especially from people who would live within them. This is because these boundaries limit localised, diverse expressions of identity and community to impose standardised structures that are often inconsistent with groups’ histories and current forms of self-identification.

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.customcontested.co.za/struggles-to-assert-self-definition-against-ascribed-tribal-identities/

Let the amaMpondo people decide who’s their king

South Africa has lost a king. Media reports tell of how 71-year-old King Mpondombini Sigcau, leader of the amaMpondo aseQaukeni, suffered a stroke and died in hospital less than a week later. His funeral was an official provincial event in the Eastern Cape and he was lauded by members of government, including President Jacob Zuma and Minister of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Richard Baloyi, for his service to the country. Continue reading

Permanent link to this article: https://www.customcontested.co.za/let-the-amampondo-people-decide-whos-their-king/

Imposed tribal boundaries lock democracy out

The Traditional Leadership and Governance Framework Act (Framework Act) was enacted in 2003. It was the first of a “package” of new laws entrenching the powers of traditional leaders. In essence, the Framework Act goes no further than to establish the structures, boundaries and hierarchy of state-recognised traditional leaders (chiefs), traditional communities (tribes) and traditional councils (tribal authorities).

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.customcontested.co.za/imposed-tribal-boundaries-lock-democracy-out/

“One size fits all” Traditional Courts Bill negates rural diversity

The centenary of the Natives Land Act of 1913 offers the opportunity for critical reflection on its material and social legacies that continue to shape the lives of millions of South Africans. This moment also demands interrogation of current and proposed legislation on land, especially how present state interventions respond to past injustices.

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.customcontested.co.za/one-size-fits-all-traditional-courts-bill-negates-rural-diversity/

Constitutional Court’s finding against Pilane affirms rural people’s rights

Recently the Mail and Guardian’s legal columnist picked up on the importance of the Constitutional Court’s decision on 28 February 2013 to strike down a set of interdicts prohibiting meetings in the Bakgatla baKgafela traditional community of Mothlabe village in North West province.

At stake in this case is far more than who has the ability to call meetings among the Bakgatla baKgafela. As has been commented, it has broad implications for people’s ability to hold traditional leaders accountable and, ultimately, who can access natural resources, including valuable minerals like platinum.

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.customcontested.co.za/constitutional-courts-finding-against-pilane-affirms-rural-peoples-rights/

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