Afra says tenure bill is flawed

2011-02-16 00:00

LAND rights organisation, the Association for Rural Development (Afra), has threatened legal action against the Rural Development and Land Reform Department, should it submit the Land Tenure Security Bill to Parliament in its current form.

The organisation said it is prepared to challenge the bill in the Constitutional Court as it will have significant impact on the lives of many people.

Afra said the bill is being rushed with too short a consultation period.

The bill was published on December 24 and opened for written comments, followed by 60 days of public consultations, closing on February 22. However, in KwaZulu-Natal the actual consultation process only started yesterday.

In a letter in possession of The Witness, Afra requests a one-month extension of public hearings.

The organisation said the bill, which aims to protect the rights of farm dwellers against illegal evictions, is flawed and could potentially leave people it aims to protect destitute. “This is a terribly important piece of legislation which has the potential of leaving people … worse off than they were and hence the organisation will not allow it to be rushed through,” said Afra director Stephen Hulbert.

“The one month we are asking for is not sufficient to deal with a comprehensive consultation process in the province, but we are asking for it because we believe that the government will be more inclined to agree to a one month extension rather than six months.”

He said Afra is not above launching a constitutional battle over the bill. “The government itself has said it does not appreciate their bills being overturned … but if the bill proceeds … we will take the matter to the constitutional court.”

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