Makhasaneni communities have succeeded to “fight off” prospective miners from using their land for mining iron ore. This was presented in a documentary “This Land” at the Nelson Mandela Foundation on Tuesday.

“Politicians and traditional leaders talk of development, but they want to develop spaces not people.”
These are sentiments uttered by Land Activist, Mbhekiseni Mavuso.

Mavuso and three other panelists presented issues faced by rural communities in the name of “development” during a live  screening of “This Land” –  a documentary on land and traditional leaders in KwaZulu-Natal .

Mavuso is the main subject of the documentary, which looks at three rural communities in KwaZulu-Natal, and how mining has destroyed some of their ancestral land.

In the film Mavuso and the community of Makhasaneni do not only fight against the prospective miners, but also face opposition from traditional leaders who he says they are in agreement with miners to take over their land.

Land Activist, Constance Mogale says some laws are put in place by government and politicians to disempower communities from their land rights. She cites the Traditional Khoi-San Leadership Bill and the Traditional Leadership Governance Framework Amendment Bill as such.

She says passed, these “will strip communities their rights, giving power to traditional leaders to get into agreements with third parties without consulting communities on issues of land.”

Another activist, Emily Tjale says it is important for laws to be put in place in support of the people, not to disempower them. A question is asked, “if it was so easy to take our Land, why is it not easy to get it back?” Emily responds saying, “Our parents were colonised, even the laws we use come from colonisers. We need our own laws.”

Parliament is currently consulting with the public on possible amendments to section 25 of the constitution. The Constitutional Review Committee is expected to finalise its report on the public hearings before the end of November 2018.