Communal Property Structures deliberate on their issues
- Nompilo Ndlovu (AFRA Staff)
In November 2007, AFRA hosted a discussion between 6 communal property institutions who have taken ownership of land through the land reform programme in KZN. The purpose was to support them to share their issues and come up with a collective strategy for addressing the issues they face.
This meeting came about after a realization that many of the communities that AFRA had been working with previously, and who have since got their land back, keep returning to AFRA with various problems. Very few people are speaking up about challenges faced by Communal Property Institutions (CPI) post land transfer.
There seems to be an assumption that once CPI’s take ownership of the land on behalf of their communities, the process is complete. The Department of Land Affairs marks them off as a successful project. In reality taking transfer is just the beginning of a whole series of challenges, which these structures and communities were never prepared for and are not supported to deal with.
AFRA decided that these issues should not be dealt with individually and randomly. Communal Property Institutions (CPI) need to come together to unify their voices, so that they can better articulate what their issues are and put them back on the public agenda for discussion, where they have conveniently fallen off. The issues that came up in the deliberations can be summed up in three areas, namely:
1. Traditional Authority Systems
Across the board, it was found that the traditional authority structures like to assert their power in places that are community owned and administered by the CPI’s.
2. Lack of post-settlement support
There is no support at all given to Communal Property Institutions. This refers not only to legal support (such as that required when they want to deal with cases of trespassing, for example), but a range of government departments do not even understand what CPI’s are. This is a huge obstruction to accessing various services. In some instances, CPI’s have gone to municipalities to talk about development services for their communities, and ended up having to defend their legitimacy as land-holding structures versus the traditional authority structures.
3. Lack of internal co operation
There is an observed lack of co-operation as well as support even among community members themselves. There was an acknowledgement that people are not prepared for the issues that they have to deal with and are getting no support.
These structures agreed that this engagement should be the first of many that are still to come. There was a commitment to keep talking to one another in order to strategize around raising these issues with a united voice.