The Traditional and Khoi-San Leadership Bill before Parliament is dangerous and desperate. It poses a direct threat to the basic rights of the poorest South Africans — the 18-million people living in former homeland areas, where the law would apply — in that it seeks to legalise a version of unilateral chiefly authority that Parliament and the Constitutional Court have rejected. The bill, which is being tested in public hearings across the country, seeks to replace the Traditional Leadership and Governance Framework Act of 2003, which connects communal land with traditional courts by superimposing apartheid tribal identities on those living in former homeland areas.

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