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Land Rights in South Africa: MADRE Congratulates the Rural Women's Movement on Recent Victory

MADRE congratulates the Rural Women's Movement (RWM), our partner organization in South Africa, and the other organizations and people involved in the ground-breaking legal victory marked by the recent repeal of the Communal Land Rights Act (CLRA). The CLRA, enacted in 2004, transferred the titles of 17 million hectares of land to apartheid-era tribal authorities, effectively undermining the ability of members of these communities to control and manage the land. 

We are well aware of the countless obstacles the RWM has confronted over the past years, battling powerful political forces throughout this legal struggle. This victory is not only a triumph for millions of impoverished South Africans, but also serves as a source of inspiration for rural women around the globe who have been marginalized and disempowered in their own countries. 

From The Law, Race and Gender Unit at the University of Cape Town:

There is an intrinsic connection between who is consulted when legislation is drafted and whom it benefits. When the Bill was being considered in 2003, rural people were not consulted about the last minute changes that empowered traditional councils to administer and control their land.

We welcome the Constitutional Court's ruling, as it represents a long-overdue breakdown in the traditional council structures that have perpetuated apartheid-era policies. The Court's judgment has sent a clear message that a lack of transparency and public deliberation, which allowed for the passage of the Act in 2003, will no longer be tolerated.