<< PREVIOUS | 1 | 1.1 | 1.2 | 1.3 | 1.4 | 2 | NEXT >>

1.3 Thaba Nchu

The analysis of the situation in Thaba Nchu will focus on the following concepts: reincorporation, institutional framework, expansion of urban boundaries, land allocation and management, upgrading of land tenure, and the farmer settlement scheme.

a. The reincorporation of Thaba Nchu into the Free State

The Rolong-Seleka settled in the Thaba Nchu area in 1833. Since then this area has become a functional unit of the Free State Province. Grand Apartheid turned Thaba Nchu into an exclave of Bophuthatswana and it functioned as one of twelve administrative districts for the period 1977 to 27 April 1994. During this period a large variety of types and scales of geographical landscape transformation occurred in especially the Thaba Nchu-Selosesha urban area, of which the settlement, industrial, commercial and educational transformations were the most important.

At the same time new landscapes emerged, i.e. political, administrative, industrial, commercial, educational, cultural and tourism landscapes. With the reincorporation of Thaba Nchu into the Free State the original political map of the Free State was restored. This also resulted in the four district council boundaries having to be redrawn, and in 1995 the boundaries of the Bloem Area District Council were expanded to incorporate both Thaba Nchu and Botshabelo. Thaba Nchu lost its 'special case' status and is at present in the process of becoming a 'normal town' in the urban hierarchy of 80 towns in the Free State. New challenges have emerged after reincorporation which affect all aspects of life of the 85 000 inhabitants of Thaba Nchu. Some of these challenges will be highlighted.

b. The institutional framework

The former Bophuthatswana institutional framework consisting of Regional Authorities, the Barolong Tribal Authority, the Legislative Assembly, the Bophuthatswana State Departments and National Corporations, and the municipality of Thaba Nchu-Selosesha, has been replaced by a Transitional Local Council and a Transitional Rural Council (TLC and TRC), and provincial departments, while the transfer of assets from the North West Development Corporation (NWDC) to the Free State Development Corporation (FDC) has not materialised. The Barolong Tribal Authority is still functioning according to the Bophuthatswana Traditional Authorities Act of 1978 (TNLRRP, 1998).

The Constitution recognises traditional leadership and authorities as an institution and acknowledges their status and role as defined by customary law. The Constitution also accords traditional leadership at the local level a role in matters affecting local communities (RSA, 1997). According to the LGTA of 1993, a traditional leader has ex officio representation on both the TLC and the TRC. This representation is utilised by the tribal authority for the TRC, but not for the TLC as the expansion in 1995 of the urban boundaries to include twelve Barolong villages was rejected by this institution. Confusion and misunderstanding exist regarding the roles and functions of elected councillors (20 in the TLC and 10 in the TRC) and traditional leaders (chief, chieftainess, six councillors and 29 headmen). Tension is especially severe when it comes to land allocation and management. Within the framework of the Constitution, municipalities and traditional authorities have similar statutory powers and functions, and share much the same area of jurisdiction. It is therefore vital that proper lines of communication should exist between the elected and traditional representatives.

c. The expansion of urban boundaries

In 1995 the urban boundaries were expanded to include twelve peri-urban settlements (Figure). Although the inclusion of 12 000 informal stands (no pegging, 83% electrified, water network and sewerage in process of installation) increases the pressure on the municipal budget, this expansion complies with criteria for demarcating urban areas, and the facilitation of IDPs, LDOs and the upgrading of land tenure to individual title deed. This consolidation of fragmented pieces of land is a major contribution towards undoing the structures of the past. It has been suggested that the area can be divided into three development regions, i.e. urban formal, urban informal and rural (Figure). Each of these regions has unique development challenges.

[Thaba Nchu urban area] [Three development circles of Thaba Nchu]
d. Land allocation and management

Up to the early 1990s land allocation and management of communal land outside the former municipal boundaries was the sole responsibility of the Barolong Tribal Authority. Land for residential, business and agricultural (grazing and cultivation) purposes was allocated in terms of Proclamation No. 188 of 1969 which decreed that Permission to Occupy (PTOs) would be issued after approval by the tribal authority. The total number of PTOs issued per village/township is indicated in adjacent Figure. In the early 1990s SANCO started to allocate residential stands especially in the twelve peri-urban settlements. After the national elections in 1994, the TLC councillors (ex-SANCO leadership among others) continued to allocate residential stands informally, especially at Bultfontein 1, 3, 4 and 5, Ratau, Ratlou and Seroalo. There is a substantial decrease in the number of PTOs that are issued, namely from 708 in 1993 to a mere 42 in 1996. In general terms it can be stated with confidence that more than 80% of all site allocations have been done by SANCO/TLC members since 1993.

The Agricor Agricultural Model, which was based on the allocation of grazing and arable land by the headmen according to availability of resources, came to an end in 1994 and was not replaced by an alternative model. This resulted in serious overgrazing as the fences are in a state of disrepair. It has been recommended that a comprehensive consultation process should be undertaken in rural Thaba Nchu with a view to formulating the most appropriate rural development strategy for the area. It was also recommended that a statutory land board or land forum should be established to facilitate joint planning and responsibility for land-related matters, land allocation and management procedures, etc. by municipal councils and traditional leaders.

e. Upgrading of land tenure

The Thaba Nchu Land Steering Committee, consisting of the TLC, the TRC, the Barolong Tribal Authority, farmers' unions, women's organisations, business people, political parties and SANCO, has identified a number of land-related problems in the urban and rural areas, one of which, namely the upgrading of land tenure, is a critical issue. In 1997 the Department of Land Affairs commissioned a multidisciplinary team to advise them on, among other things, a process of upgrading of land tenure for the 12 000 households in the twelve peri-urban settlements. Final recommendations in this regard were made in February 1998 and approved by the DLA. It is significant that the three major institutions represented in the TNLSC (the TLC, the TRC and the Tribal Authority) approved the principle of upgrading of land tenure including individual title deeds.

[Discussion in Thaba Nchu
regarding lands issues
[Aerial photo of Moroka]

For rural Thaba Nchu different procedures will have to be followed as different kinds of land tenure options are available. It was suggested that a comprehensive consultation process be conducted in order to determine the most suitable model for each of the 37 villages. As an outcome of the commission's recommendations, the DLA allocated R8,8 million for the upgrading of land tenure in Thaba Nchu during the 1998/99 financial year. This will contribute towards a major transformation of land tenure which will benefit some 80 000 landless people. This process is perhaps the most drastic measure introduced in the BBT region for the purpose of formally undoing the spatial patterns of the past.

f. The Farmer Settlement Project

A farmer settlement project on the Sepani and Excelsior Farms is already far advanced and the first farmers should receive their title deeds soon.

The reincorporation of Thaba Nchu into the Free State, the post-April 1994 institutional arrangements, the expansion of urban boundaries and a changing land allocation and management approach have paved the way for the upgrading of land tenure with a view to providing land security for 12 000 households in the peri-urban settlements and 3 400 families in rural villages.

<< PREVIOUS | 1 | 1.1 | 1.2 | 1.3 | 1.4 | 2 | NEXT >>

created: October 1999; last alteration: February 15th 2000 - JL