Legal researcher Mr Shirhami Shirinda raised serious concerns about the stagnancy and quarrels within communal property associations.
“People don’t understand what communal property associations are about, and this is the reason why they are always having problems that have them entangled in endless infighting.”
A researcher at the Legal Resource Centre’s satellite office in Louis Trichardt, Mr Shirhami Shirinda, raised serious concerns about the stagnancy and quarrels within communal property associations during the hearing on the Communal Property Associations Amendment Bill at Louis Trichardt.
The hearing was hosted by the Limpopo Legislature’s portfolio committee on economic development, environment, tourism and forestry on 21 November. The purpose of the hearing was to introduce the bill more fully to the people and to get some input.
Shirinda was therefore quite vocal on several issues in relation to the operations of the communal property associations and the bill.
“I am not being negative or racist, but it will seem like our people are not used to committees because once a person is elected as chairperson of a communal property association, that person wants to be the chairperson forever,” he said. “The elected committee’s term lasts for only five years and then a new committee must be elected. If the members elect another chairperson for the next term, that outgoing chairperson feels that he is not being re-elected because of some hidden agendas. Our people don’t want to give up on position because they think they have been badmouthed or are being persecuted.”
He further stated that he failed to understand the logic behind the supply of ready-made constitutions to CPAs by the department. “In most cases, in a bid to assist the CPA to establish their property association, the department shoves the ready-made constitution onto any new CPA, so that they only fill in their CPA name and the names of the board of executive directors,” he said. “A constitution of one CPA becomes exactly the same as those of many others; it's quite confusing in that those constitutions no longer serve a good purpose for those CPAs.”
He concluded by highlighting that CPAs were by no means business enterprises, but communal owners of a piece of land. “If they need to do business on that piece of land, they should register a separate company for that purpose of making profit,” he said. “But is the government making people aware of all these things? I don't think that it is beneficial for the department to even amend the CPA bill while there’s still so much work that needs to be done at the level of the operations and functioning of CPAs out there, so that the people or beneficiaries get to understand what a CPA is, and how it should be managed or run. ”
A report of the portfolio committee on Rural Development and Land Reform, dated 9 May 2018, states that many CPAs in different districts were dysfunctional because of internal conflicts within the associations and between the beneficiaries of claimed lands.
“In most CPAs, they are fighting because they don't know the contents of [their] constitutions since they didn't author those constitutions,” Shirinda said. “Those are just a few pointers to the problems faced by many CPAs, and if the CPAs are to thrive, much needs to be done, so that they stand firmly on their own ground.”