Customary Law and the Constitution in Post-Apartheid South Africa



Mazibuko Kanyiso Jara, CDDRL

Date and Time

October 31, 2012 12:00 PM - 1:30 PM


Open to the public.

No RSVP required


Encina Hall West - Room 202

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This is co-sponsered with Stanford's Center for Africa Studies


Rural dwellers in the former homeland areas of South Africa are now increasingly defined as rightless subjects, as a result of the undemocratic rule of traditional leadership institutions, and despite the existence of South Africa's progressive post-apartheid Constitution adopted in 1996. Indeed, customary law and traditional institutions are recognised by the Constitution and are meaningful and of practical importance for many rural dwellers. Many rural dwellers have dexterously combined the idiom of custom and the discourse of the Constitution, rather than pitting the Constitution against custom. However, post-1994 traditional leadership laws are not built on such evolutionary hybridisation of the Constitution and custom. These laws stealthily vest significant powers in traditional leadership institutions in ways that potentially undermine rights and create tensions with the constitutionally recognised system and tiers of governance.

About the speaker:

Mazibuko Kanyiso Jara a 2012 Social Entrepreneurs-in-Residence at Stanford and a research associate at UCT Law, Race and Gender Research Unit examines the future of the underdeveloped rural areas in the former homelands, which are increasingly shaped by various conflicts and contradictions: between the Constitution and the official version of customary law; between custom and rights; between traditional councils and municipalities; between rural dwellers and tribal authorities; between rural women and patriarchal tribal institutions; and between imposed tribal institutions and local experiments with community-based systems.

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