The DA welcomes the historic ruling by the Pietermaritzburg High Court declaring the Ingonyama Trust’s policy of making communal land occupants sign leases and pay rent as unlawful. Even more significant, as ruled by the court, the Trust’s communal land occupants will now get back their lease rentals which they have paid to the Trust to date.
For communal land occupants across the country whose security of tenure has always been tenuous due to paternalistic land administration systems, today’s ruling offers hope that they will eventually become owners of their ancestral land.
Ingonyama Trust communal land occupants had been reduced to tenants on their ancestral land and were often forced into restrictive land leases. The arrangement was particularly discriminatory against women who were told that they could not enter into leases with the Trust without the presence of a man.
The Department of Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD), which the court found to have failed in its constitutional duties to protect community rights, must now ensure that the court’s ruling is implemented fully and to the letter.
In any case, the failure by the DALRRD to protect communal land ownership rights on Ingonyama Trust land is hardly surprising. The ANC, in cahoots with the EFF, are trying to push for state custodianship to be included in the ill-thought process to amend Section 25 of the Constitution.
State custodianship is nothing more than a veiled attempt to “nationalise” all land and place it under the control of the State – – a disastrous move that will lead to economic devastation and escalating poverty, as it has already done in countries as diverse as Venezuela and Zimbabwe.
Following today’s ruling, it is clear why the ANC/EFF want to exclude the courts from adjudicating land expropriation cases. The DA will vehemently disagree with any attempt to reduce the role of the courts because it will take away the protection that citizens have against arbitrary actions of the state.
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