Civil society organisations call on the ANC policy conference to recommit to democracy and human rights in the rural areas

The Alliance for Rural Democracy represents organisations and individuals committed to democracy, equality and access to justice for all who live in South Africa. We recognise that our freedom is interdependent with that of all citizens.

We call on delegates at the ANC policy conference, presently underway at Gallagher Estate, to recommit themselves to protecting and advancing the basic human rights of all citizens in South Africa, including those in rural areas.

For many reasons, and since it was first tabled in the national assembly in 2008, we have consistently expressed our opposition to the Traditional Courts Bill (Bill), presently before the National Council of Provinces (NCOP). We believe that it does not meet constitutional muster and must be scrapped in its entirety.

We note with disquiet the NCOP’s decision on 30 May, not to consider the provincial mandates on the Bill, many of which were opposed to it in whole or in part. This flies in the face of all those rural people who made their voices heard during the provincial legislatures’ public hearings on the Bill, despite attempts to intimidate and victimise them for speaking out against the Bill.

We wish for the ANC to reassert the principle of ‘one law for one nation’ – which represents a fundamental departure from colonialist and apartheid attempts to ghettoise some sections of our nation merely on the basis of their race and location. We appeal to the ANC to make real on its commitment to economic justice and to address the continued economic exploitation of rural people through the unregulated practices of some traditional courts.

We urge the ANC to show political leadership consistent with the founding principles and values of South Africa’s constitutional democracy.

We call on the ANC to stand with all people who support the recognition of cultural freedoms and belief systems, in the context of a constitutional democracy, and to join us in our call:

  • Scrap the Bill with immediate effect.
  • Ensure the drafting of a new Bill that places the rights and participation of all people, especially those based in rural communities and women, at centre stage in its development. This new draft must be based on robust consultations in safe spaces with ordinary people, specifically women.
  • Reaffirm a commitment to democratic transformation in the rural areas based on constitutional principles of equality, dignity and justice for all.


The Alliance for Rural Democracy includes the following organisations:

Community Law Centre, University of the Western Cape (CLC); Corruption Watch; Co-operative Policy Alternative Centre (COPAC); Council for the Advancement of the South African Constitution (CASAC); Democratic Governance and Rights Unit, University of Cape Town (DGRU); Embrace Dignity Campaign; Empilisweni AIDS Education and Training Centre; Institute for Justice and Reconciliation (IJR); Law, Race and Gender Research Unit, University of Cape Town (LRG); Masimanyane Women’s Support Centre; Open Democracy Advice Centre (ODAC); Peddie Women’s Support Centre; Rural People’s Movement; Rural Women’s Movement; Section 27; Sonke Gender Justice; Students for Law and Social Justice (SLSJ); Treatment Action Campaign (TAC); Tshwaranang Legal Advocacy Centre; Unemployed People’s Movement; Women’s Health Research Unit, School of Public Health and Family Medicine, University of Cape Town; Women’s Legal Centre Trust. The Legal Resources Centre (LRC) acts as legal advisor to the Alliance.

For more information contact

Nomboniso Gasa Cell: 083 451 9321 or 083 7791435
Mbuyiselo Botha 082 518 1177
Sizani Ngubane 073 8405151