The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) welcomes Parliament’s passage of the Upgrading of Land Tenure Rights Amendment (ULTRA) Bill. The Federation supports the ULTRA Bill as it seeks to address a constitutional deficiency with the founding Act of 1991.
The founding Act of 1991 was found by the Constitutional Court to be inconsistent with the Bill of Rights’ anti-discriminatory principles, with regards to women’s rights. This has meant in certain instances that women’s rights to upgrade land tenure rights to ownership were undermined or in certain cases prevented.
The Federation’s support for the ULTRA Bill is based upon its providing for the:
- Upgrading of land tenure rights to ownership.
- Removal of discriminatory provisions under the founding Act that prevented women from holding land tenure rights or upgrading such land tenure rights into ownership.
- Recognising conversions that took effect in the past, which favoured women and those that were made in good faith; and
- Providing that the Act apply throughout the Republic and repealing various homeland and apartheid era leftover legislation.
These progressive provisions will benefit millions of poor South Africans, in both urban and rural areas, and in particular women, who have long awaited the upgrading of land tenure rights into ownership.
Whilst urging the speedy assent into law of the ULTRA Bill by the President, COSATU remains deeply sceptical of the capacity of the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development to ensure all potential beneficiaries will be aware of their rights as provided for by the ULTRA Bill and how to exercise them. There is little benefit in passing progressive laws for them to merely gather dust on law library bookshelves.
Parliament needs to hold government to account and ensure that farm and other workers, rural and township residents, and in particular women, are fully empowered to exercise the rights as provided for by the ULTRA Bill when it comes into effect.
The rights to security of land tenure rights and to upgrade such rights to ownership have been delayed for many persons for far too long. COSATU hopes that this Bill will serve as a step forward to addressing the apartheid legacies of skewed ownership of land.
Issued by COSATU
For further information please contact: Matthew Parks- COSATU Parliamentary Coordinator
Cell: 082 785 0687