Dateline: JOHANNESBURG, June 19

The Alliance for Rural Democracy and its partners under the Stop The Bantustan Bills campaign are disillusioned by the silence from the Presidency. Just two weeks ago more than 1200 rural people took to the streets to demand that the President does not sign the unjust and undemocratic ‘Bantustan Bills’. Communities from 7 provinces journeyed overnight and held a night vigil in Pretoria in preparation for the mass action. In refusing to neither receive nor respond to the memorandum in a timely manner it is now evident that the preferential treatment afforded to traditional leaders will continue unabated – whilst the rural masses go unheard and unseen.

“Awakening on Friday morning, June 20, 1913, the South African native found himself, not actually, a slave, but a pariah in the land of his birth.” Plaatje’s famed words ring true on the devastating and lasting effects of the passing of the Natives’ Land Act; and equally true for Bantustan Bills. If passed, the Traditional and Khoi-San Leadership Bill and the Traditional Courts Bill will render us subjects of Bantustans if we do not take concomitant action.

Evidently the office of the President intends to frustrate us until we retire to our former homelands and accept our fate that we are second class citizens. But we will not tire from this campaign just as we did not tire at the Union Buildings after hours of waiting. President Ramaphosa we will not back down – we call on you to honour the memorandum signed by your office so that we too may bask in the sun under this #NewDawn. As you prepare for the State of the National Address, we call on you to consider these demands because that is the real state of our nation – we are being robbed of our lands and our identity by these unelected and undemocratic chiefs.

It was on this day in 1913 that the Natives’ Land Act was passed with dire consequences for black people in South Africa. And it is on this day that we remember all who have come before us who have fought for justice and the rights to land. We will continue to protest, to occupy and to resist until you hear our demands. This is a sustained campaign for rural democracy and we call on all South Africans to support our cause because we are citizens and not subjects!

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