'Draconian laws must fall'
Many citizens want what they call "Draconian laws" pertaining to land rights, wealth distribution, education and equality to fall. Former president Kgalema Motlanthe is chairing a parliamentary panel touring the country to sound out citizens on whether they think our democracy is working.Sitting in Durban yesterday, the panel was told that several pieces of land legislation should be repealed because they exacerbated the problems of the previously oppressed.The panel has looked at land reform, rural development, social cohesion and nation building.After visiting Eastern Cape, Northern Cape and the Free State the panel had its hands full as people took turns to urge the repeal of land and economic development laws that, they contended, hindered development.The Ingonyama Trust Board Act came under fire from at least five speakers who gave examples of how it had destroyed their lives and their businesses.The act was passed by the De Klerk administration in March 1994, on the eve of the first democratic elections, and was intended to protect tribal land. There was no consultation with those who would be affected by it.Edward Mpepho, of Umgababa, KwaZulu-Natal, a former bed-and-breakfast owner in the Mnini area, said his R2-million business venture had been destroyed by traditional leaders who demanded exorbitant taxes.He claimed he had to pay them R3,000 a month between 2007 and 2010, which eventually totalled R122,000."The money was paid to the Amathuli traditional council. It destroyed my finances and the livelihoods of those who worked for me."The panel will submit its final report in August.