Mainstream politics here hardly notices rural people – so no one seems bothered that South Africans in the countryside may soon become victims of ANC patronage politics. The threat lies in a clause in the Traditional and Khoi-San Leadership Bill that Parliament is considering. It gives traditional councils the power to make land deals without consulting people whose land rights are affected. Most council members are appointed by traditional authorities – 40% should be elected, of whom 30% must be women — but even this limited democracy is sometimes ignored. So, traditional authorities would be able to sell or develop land without even asking, let alone winning the approval of, the people who live and farm there. University of Cape Town land researcher Aninka Claassens points out that the bill would allow politicians "who benefit from opaque mining and tourism deals in former homeland areas" to enrich themselves.But, it may also be another attempt by ANC patronage politicians to stre...

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