By Zoliswa Gqamane and Othusitse Rapoo
Over 40 young people including leaders of Motlhabe Village Council attended a Community Impact Assessment Workshop at Motlhabe Community Hall conducted by Bafokeng Land Buyer’s Association on the 23rd June 2018. The Workshop considered the topical Land Expropriation without Compensation debate, and how to get youth to be more involved in knowing the history of the land of their forefathers, and how to protect and exercise control over it.
Many traditional communities in the North West Province and elsewhere around the country are concerned that decisions about their land are taken on their behalf by various organs of state, traditional leaders and mining companies without their consent. Such decisions having devastating impacts on their livelihoods.
Mr Ruele took the community through the impugned section 25 of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa which he indicated already provides for land expropriation without compensation. Assisted by Mr Thusi Rapoo, they explained that section 25(8) is very clear that the State can expropriate land without compensation. The section provides that “no provison of this section may impede the state from taking legislative and other measures to achieve land, water and related reform, in order to redress…..’.
Many private farmowners have been applying subsections 25(2)b (compensation) and 25(3)c (market value) to inflate the value of their farms identified for restitution claims. This willing buyer and willing seller method has frustrated the land reform process in South Africa.
The difficulty has been that the ANC-led government lacked political will to expropriate land without compensation in terms of above section 25(8).
It was further suggested that traditional chiefs be stripped off their Executive powers conferred on them by the Traditional Leadership and Governance Framework Act (‘TLGFA’). The community was urged to make submissions in this regard in the ongoing public participation process on the Traditional and Khoisan Leadership Bill (‘TKLB’) that seeks to repeal the TLGFA.
Motlhabe community was thankful to BLBA and the sponsors for the educational Workshop, and felt empowered to exert their rights with more vigour in the coming months. The community indicated that they have been excluded in the ongoing public participation processes on related legislative reforms affecting them.
At a general meeting held on the 16 June 2018 at Tsitsing Village, Bafokeng Land Buyers’ Association resolved to initiate a process to remove Leruo Tshekedi Molotlegi from office as chief of the so-called Royal Bafokeng Nation.
The meeting, which was preceded by a march demonstration through the village, was in commemoration of the 1976 June 16 student revolts against the apartheid school curriculum.
Communities expressed great appreciation to Thato Magogodi and the Revolutionary Council in the North West Province for their selfless courageous effort to rid the Province of its heartless corrupt leaders. Communities warned that the raging anger within mine-hosting communities in the Bojanala Platinum District would make the recent Mahikeng burning revolts look like a small sunday picnic.
The communities pledge their support to the urgent dissolution of the ANC NW Provincial Executive Committee under whose leadership the provincial administration collapsed with alarming corrupt practices.
The communities noted that the former Premier and his Executives both in the Provincial Administration and in the ANC, have vested malicious and corrupt interest in the administration of traditional communities in the Province. The Province is highly endowed with minerals. Over 50% of world platinum is produced in the province.
The communities are further dismayed that since the dawn of democracy, and contrary to the spirit of the June 16 student revolt, hereditary chiefs in traditional communities, conferred with unfettered powers to do as they please with communal assets, allow themselves to be used as pawns for political and economic graft.
The communities are concerned that much as corruption in traditional communities within the Bakgatla and Bapo ‘tribes’ has been topical subjects in the media, the blue-eyed boy and darling of corrupt politicians and business, the Bafokeng chief, has by some magic escaped the radar of judicial reprimand and Parliament in this country.
The communities are adamant that the captured Bafokeng chief and ANC leaders cannot be trusted with spearheading the ongoing ‘Marxist’ land reform process. The corrupt and ruthless capitalist leaders, ‘dinwamadi’ as Magogogi calls them, will sell the land to the highest bidder. ‘We need thought leaders and for organisations such as the BLBA to be in the forefront of debates around this question’, Magogodi said.
The communities are enraged by the autocratic and arrogant conduct of the Bafokeng chief to corporatize communal assets without community consent. The collapse and sale of Platinum Stars Football Club is a sour case in point, which shows how communal assets and monies are siphoned off under the pretext of corporatization.
Worse still, full benches in the North West Appeal Court and the Supreme Court of Appeal in Bloemfontein dismissed the chief’s costly and reckless attempt to have 61 farms around Rustenburg registered in his name without proper (community) authorisation.
The communities contend that the Bafokeng as a ‘tribe’ is a colonial-apartheid construct, and that the farms, currently held by the Minister of Rural Development and Land Reform, must rightfully be transferred and registered in their village names. The communities contend that it is them as individual villages forming the Bafokeng ‘tribe’, that bought the farms independently of the small Bafokeng clan and its chief. Having purchased the farms in mid 19th century from the struggling boers, the then independent landowning villages were forced by the British-Boer pact in around 1881 to subject themselves to the Bafokeng ‘chieftaincy’.
It is clear that the captured autocratic chief sought unfettered ownership of the land for his self-economic interest, and for the benefit of irresponsible and unaccountable mining companies.
It is as a result among others that the communities will approach the Royal Family to remove the arrogant captured chief from office with immediate effect, and to identify a suitably qualified Administrator.
Mine-hosting communities in the Bojanala Platinum District Municipality converged at the Rustenburg Civic Centre on the 10 May 2018 to make inputs on the Mining Charter.
In attendance were a handful of: young people working in the local mines; local Municipal Councilors; local BEE companies; members of Bapo, Bafokeng and Bakgatla traditional communities.
The hearings lasted the whole day and 95% of the attendants rejected the Mining Charter on account that:
- No proper notice about the public hearings was given;
- The mining charter is a document crafted elsewhere by unknown persons, without and about them;
- The Charter is subject to MPRDA which itself was rejected by the communities during last year hearings on the latter Act amendment process;
- The Charter and the MPRDA promotes the controversial migrant mine labour system and ethnic divisions;
- Land ownership disputes should be resolved first before mining takes place;
- As land claimants and affected communities, negotiations and agreements about mining should be done with them and not with the chiefs;
- The Charter and the MPRDA are legal instruments used by mining companies, traditional chiefs and DMR to deprive people of their informal rights;
- Officials and political leadership are agents of white supremacy and white monopoly capital;
- There are competing rights and interests between mine-hosting communities and labour sending communities;
- The true definition and geographic location of labour sending communities cannot be determined and support to these unknown communities therefore unjustified.
Members complained about possible fraudulent acts in the legal department of the DMR where applications for prospecting rights were unscrupulously refused. In other instances appeals for the suspension of mining licenses ignored.
BLBA input on the Mining Charter blames the ANC in around 1992 for accepting advice by the World Bank to deprive local traditional communities and Local Municipalities of control over land and minerals, much to their chagrin.
BLBA requested the Department not to renew Impala Platinum Mine’s application to renew their expiring mining license, and to refuse them further mining developments at Luka village.
Municipal Councilors requested the DMR to scrap the Mining Communities’ Leadership Forum (MCLEF) which they found abused by the mines to escape compliance.
In their response Minister Mantashe and his Deputy Mr Oliphant ignored dealing with the above inputs. Mr Oliphant’s response was mainly appreciative of the 5% that sought procurement opportunities in the mines. His response suggested that the gathering amounted to a proper consultation on the Mining Charter.
Minister Mantashe’s short response on the other hand took a swipe at mine-hosting communities, suggesting that they were greedy not to share their mineral wealth with the whole nation.
BLBA held a successful march demonstration and its Annual General Meeting on Sharpeville Day, March 21 in commemoration of the human rights month. The march which started at Mogono Section of Luka Village, culminated into a General Meeting at Thethe High School.
Bafokeng communities commended the leadership of BLBA for their resilience in their fight against mining injustice and poor, repressive traditional governance by the Royal Bafokeng chief.
Communities welcomed the recent NW Appeal Court judgment in which the Court found conduct by the Bafokeng chief and his so called Supreme Council to be in violation of communities’ right to be consulted. The communities expect the Court to refuse the chief an opportunity to appeal the matter. Communities have vowed that should the chief appeal the matter, it would be for his personal account, and that he should actually be impeached for his delinquent autocratic behaviour.
The communities further welcomed grant support by International Alliance on Natural Resources in Africa (IANRA) and the European Union Parliament for communities to develop relationships with their Members of Provincial Legislature responsible for mining and traditional leadership. Communities hope to inform MPLs about developments in their mining affected areas, and to hold MPLs accountable.
The mine-hosting Bafokeng communities are worried that they made inputs against the MPRDA Amendment Bill in recent public participation processes, and yet the Provincial Legislature voted in favour of the Bill, against communities’ wishes.
It is on this latter point and many others that the communities called for the recall of Premier Supra Mahumapelo with immediate effect.
In a unanimous judgment delivered on Friday 09 March 2018, the Appeal Court at the North West High Court upheld Bafokeng communities’ appeal to dismiss Royal Bafokeng Nation’s 2008 Court application (‘main application’) to have some 61 farms registered in its name. The farms are currently held by the Minister of Land Reform and Rural Development in trust for the Bafokeng ‘tribe’.
In the main application, the RBN argues that the trust instrument created by apartheid legislation that land belonging to Bafokeng people be held in trust on their behalf was racially discriminatory, and that the ‘trust’ does not conform with current laws regulating trust formations.
Bafokeng communities organsised under the banner of the Bafok eng Land Buyers’ Association (‘BLBA’), argued that the sought transfer and registration of Bafokeng land should be done in the names of the original buyers of Bafokeng land, being various communities or villages that forms the Bafokeng ‘tribe’.
Communities claim they were forced around 1883 by the British government to amalgamate their land to form what is now known as the Bafokeng ‘tribe’.
The communities later challenged the authority of the chief to have launched the main application in 2008 without proper authorisation and ‘tribal’ consultation.
Judge Landman found in the lower Court that the chief ought to have consulted first with the people when he applied at North West High Court for the land to be transferred and registered in RBN names. The Judge however held that the chief could exercise a discretion not to consult, as it was his prerogative to or not to consult. It was these findings which BLBA, Thekwane Community and Setuke Family appealed against.
The Appeal court found that Judge Landman erred in his ruling. The Appeal Court found that RBN and the chief ought to have consulted, and that failure to consult was fatal to RBN case. It was therefore not necessary to determine validity of the authorisation o litigate, and whether if the Supreme Council was properly constituted at its meeting of 22 September 2005 to authorise the said 2008 main application by the RBN. The Appeal Court importantly found that the Supreme Council did not possess powers mandating the chief to apply to the Court to have the said transfer and registration of farms in RBN name.
The Court found that the so-called Supreme Council had habitually and unlawfully exercised powers ordinarily reserved for and vested with the statutory Traditional/ Executive Council.
The overall result is that RBN’s 2008 main case is therefore dismissed with costs. Further to that, the appellants succeeded in their appeal against Judge Landman’s order, and RBN ordered again to pay costs of the appeal.
The Bafokeng chief is found by many within the Bafokeng to be autocratic in his style of leadership. He is as such likely to approach the highest Court of the land. BLBA is of the view that should the chief attempt a Constitutional Court review, that such application would be reckless and wasteful, and that the chief should then be held personally liable for delinquent conduct.
BLBA intends approaching the Royal Family and the Traditional Council to commence impeachment proceedings against the chief, should he persist with his conduct at the ‘tribe’s’ expense. Such conduct has brought the ‘tribal’ affairs into disrepute.
BLBA shall discuss the implications of the case at its upcoming Annual General Meeting scheduled for 21 March 2018 (formerly Sharpeville Day). The meeting shall be preceded by a protest demonstration to create awareness about human rights injustice the Bafokeng communities are subjected to by the mining complex (mines, banks, government) operating in their areas.
See Appeal judgment here: BLBA and two others v RBN Case No CIV APP 3/17 in case 999/08 NWHC