Key apartheid law to be repealed

Government will finally scrap one of the last vestiges of colonial segregation and apartheid after tabling a bill to repeal the 78-year-old Black Administration Act last week.

The act, introduced in 1927, gave previous governments total control over black people, allowed the state to appoint or demote traditional leaders and prevented black women from leasing or owning property.

The effects of the act are still felt today in the form of bitter succession disputes involving traditional leaders, racially skewed land ownership patterns and the struggle of black women to own or lease property.

The act provided for the control of the lives of black people by decree of administrators and other politicians.

Justice Minister Brigitte Mabandla tabled the Repeal of the Black Administration Act and Amendment of Certain Laws Bill in Parliament last week. It provides for the immediate repeal of some provisions of the old act and for the incremental repeal of others as new laws are drafted.

The explanatory note accompanying the bill says parts of the act, which deal with the rights of women to lease and own property, can be repealed immediately. The Constitutional Court found a year ago that these provisions were unconstitutional.

Provisions which allow a traditional leader to be replaced by one appointed by state officials will also go.

The existing provision reads: “The minister or his delegate may appoint any person as a headman over a tribal settlement or as a headman of the blacks in any area and may appoint any person to act temporarily as a chief or headman in the place of or in addition to the ordinary incumbent of the post and also depose such person.”

The use of this provision lies at the heart of many succession disputes in SA. Government has appointed a commission to look into the claims and bona fides of SA’s traditional leaders and those deposed in the past.

Also to be repealed are provisions that allow the president to make regulations relating to a wide range of matters affecting black people.

Source: Wyndham Hartley Key Apartheid Law To Bite The Dust At Last Business Day 16 August 2005-08-22

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FMF Policy Bulletin/ 23 August 2005
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