Traditional authorities in South Africa are facing growing resistance from communities who are challenging the practice that gives them power to make decisions over communal land without consulting community members. This has been seen in several provinces, particularly those that hold significant mineral resources. The report of the High Level Panel on the Assessment of Key Legislation and The Acceleration of Fundamental Change affirms this view and calls for a revision of certain laws that give chiefs powers that undermine the rights of communities. In this article, Sonwabile Mnwana writes that the power held by chiefs is ahistorical and must be re-examined to ensure that the rural poor are empowered to secure their land rights. Failure to do this will intensify land dispossession.

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