Old interim Act replaces CLaRA

The Department of Rural Development and Land Reform was obliged to abide by the Constitutional Court’s decision to bin the Communal Land Rights Act (CLaRA).

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But the department’s deputy director general Mduduzi Shabane told the parliamentary portfolio committee there would be no vacuum, because the Protection of Informal Land Rights Act of 1996 (IPILR) that CLaRA had supplanted would come back into force.

However, Prof Ben Cousins of the Institute for Poverty, Land and Agrarian Studies at the University of the Western Cape said the IPILR was only ever intended as an interim measure. “All it says is that no one who holds an informal property right can be dispossessed without first being given a chance to state their case,” he noted.

“It’s a very basic protection and this is what we’re stuck with until government comes up with a new Act to fulfil the needs of section 25(6) of the constitution. This holds that anyone whose tenure of land is legally insecure as a result of past racially discriminatory laws or practices is entitled either to tenure, which is legally secure, or to comparable redress. “It took 10 years to develop CLaRA, so who knows when we’ll see something new.” Shabane was unable to tell the parliamentary committee what plans were in place for developing a new Act. 

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