Discriminatory laws, policies and practices distort customary law, undermine security of tenure and rights in land while entrenching the powers of traditional authorities. Our symbol is the traditional umtshayelo wesandle – the hand broom found in every rural household. The broom symbolises the power of organisation – the many bristles representing individuals, communities and organisations who are bound together by a common purpose to ‘sweep away’ through, rather than over, the socio-economic and political issues, discriminatory laws and abuse of power and custom which impact on rural people’s daily lives. The ARD works to challenge undemocratic practices and discriminatory laws through on the ground campaigns; test law reform through cases brought before the courts and; capacity building initiatives for rural communities and activists; participatory research; and other related policy work.
Towards a strengthened rural movement:
Organize in support of social inclusion and restorative land justice through mobilization and supporting participation in policy formulation and policy implementation.
One South Africa, one justice system and a single land governance and administration framework.
We envision a South Africa where customary law as envisaged by the Constitution applies to all, rural and urban. A South Africa in which democracy is experienced the same way by people in rural and urban areas.
The power, industriousness and agency of rural communities to express their own needs, articulate their experiences and their policy choices:
We embrace the spirit within which the Constitution protects customary rights, laws and practices. We believe that in doing so, the Constitution did not create the ‘otherness’ that subsequent legislation now seeks to achieve. We believe that customary rights, laws and practices have no boundaries or jurisdiction and that they not only apply to rural areas in the way that it is now intended through the regressive law-making of the present.
Our starting point is the fragmented legislative framework regulating land governance in South Africa which is to this day, responsible for a number of laws enacted in democratic South Africa which create a different set of rules for those who reside in rural areas to those who reside in urban areas – what is referred to in this document as the ‘otherness’ or the ‘other-ing’ of people in rural areas.
STANDING WITH RURAL COMMUNITIES ACROSS SOUTH AFRICA
Working with on-the-ground groups and agencies to represent rural South Africans
The Alliance is premised on the belief that there is one South Africa and one democracy with principles and rules that apply to all South Africans equally, irrespective of where they reside. Alliance members believe that central in a democracy is a right to choose public representatives. This right is intrinsic in a democracy and lies at the core of the Constitution. It is the belief of the Alliance therefore, that any law that establishes a governance structure anywhere in South Africa in ways that deviate from the fundamental right of community groups to choose their leaders is in conflict with the core tenet of a democracy.
Accountability in local governance
Rural communities hold those in power to account to ensure that their rights are upheld.
Direct participation in community advocacy
Rural communities actively participate in advocacy with regards to their land rights.
Progressive strategies based on strengths and needs.
Interventions, projects and programmes that are based on what communities priotize.
Real community representation in all policies, projects and plans
Rural Democracy partners work together for policy reform and implementation.