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.
We believe in 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 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. Alliance members also believe that central in a democracy is a right to choose public representatives.
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.
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
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.
As such, 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.
Rural communities mobilize and hold those in power to account and maintain transparency.
Rural communities actively participate in defending their land rights, advocating against distorted customary law practices and,undermining the lack of transparency and accountability by key decision-makers
The Alliance works with its partners for policy reform and effective implementation of laws
Rural communities empowered to influence policy decisions own their own terms, based on our experiences and needs
Following from our ethos, we employ a multi-faceted approach to our work to account for the dynamic contexts in which our communities exist. We envisage achieving the change we seek three-fold: at local community level; in policies and laws and; and, in the manner in which laws and policies are implemented. We achieve our objectives through the following programs:
The ARD organizes across the country to highlight the implications of the Traditional and Khoi-San Leadership Bill and Traditional Courts Bills which seek to entrench apartheid geographies with its proposals to establish traditional councils based on the apartheid governance framework established in terms of the 1951 Bantu Authorities Act.
Our campaign highlights the continued othering of rural people because of the provisions allowing traditional leaders to enter into negotiations and partnerships with third parties on behalf of communities with very little consultation. Communities should have the right to say no to land deals or investments and also the right to decide on the types of development and interventions that they want to support.
The ARD succeeded in amplifying the voices of communities, especially rural women who have been at the forefront of opposition to the Bantustan Bills.
The ARD plays an active role in monitoring the state and holding it accountable for elite mining deals and the sale of communal land which both fail to honor the rights of rural citizens in land, by ensuring that communities are extensively consulted and their right to say no exists, but also fail to benefit rural citizens in meaningful ways.
This has included contesting the illicit leasing of land in the former homelands for mining and other land-based projects or investments without the informed consent of the rights holders as required by the Interim Protection of Informal Land Rights Act.
Exposing post democratic SA’s to integrate rural South Africa fully in the broader nation building project, is a means to action our demand for meaningful citizenship which include land restitution, even development; and democratic governance which works.
Driven by the urgency of the demand that the national government prioritize rural development by undoing the wrongs of the previous colonial administration which include skewed economic, social and racial power. The campaign places the pervasive conditions endemic to rural South Africa into its proper historical context as it relates to contemporary problems.
Following a strong bottom-up approach to our work, the Alliance is invested in supporting local level actions and capacity building activities. Our workshops and skills sharing interventions are guided from provincial and regional strategy meetings which bring together community representatives, CBOs, researchers and lawyers engaged in struggles around core themes on which ARD works.
These activities thus fall within our broader campaigns on land rights, mining, traditional governance, traditional courts and tribal levies, and allow rural community activists to articulate their demands and proactively organize for a law, policy or action that will best meet their needs.
The ARD works with our partners on action research that is driven by community identified needs. The research is undertaken and produced in ways which assist communities in protecting their land rights; advocate against distorted customary law practices; and undermine lack of transparency and accountability by key decision-makers . Litigation partners have historically offered services to communities at no cost, in cases that build our constitutional democracy.
Constance Galeo Mogale is a leading South African land activist whose experience and dedication spans over 20 years in the sector. During this time, she has led several campaigns and initiatives which have contributed significantly to land justice and its discourse in the country. Ms Mogale has a strong track record in community organization; mobilisation; and participatory research. Since 2017, she has been at the helm of the Alliance as its National Coordinator.
She holds a Post Graduate Diploma (Land and Agrarian Studies) from the University of Western Cape and is part of the 2018 cohort of the prestigious Atlantic Fellows for Racial Equity programme. Currently Ms Mogale is registered as a MPhil student with SARChI Chair in Poverty, Land and Agrarian Studies at the University of the Western Cape.
Research and Media
Tshepo Nnini Fokane is a highly skilled researcher with more than 10 years experience in community development and resilience building. Since 2018, Ms Fokane has served the Alliance as its Research Lead, and led the Alliance’s work on policy and law related capacity building and training programs.
A dedicated social justice activist and development practitioner, she holds a BA(Hons)(CumLaude) from the University of Johannesburg and a MPhil (Land and Agrarian Studies) from University of Western Cape.
She has also completed a short course on Systems Change and Social Impact (SC&SI) convened by the Bertha Centre for Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship, at the University of Cape Town (UCT) Graduate School of Business.
Logistics and Administration
Vincent Mpho Phora is the primary support for all of the ARD’s administration and finance related functions, and has more than 3 years experience as an accounting clerk and office administrator.
Since joining the Alliance in 2019, Mr Phora has been assisting the office administrator with all finance-related tasks and has been performing other admin-related or programme-related tasks primarily focused on logistics.
He holds a National Diploma (Financial Management) from the Pretoria Technical College.
Finance and Administration Manager
Thembi Tshabalala has over 25 years’ experience in social development movements. She has worked across sectors including varying industries and civil society. Most of her career has been spent in the NGO sector where she developed administrative and financial policies.
She has also worked on poverty alleviation programs and with funders on grant making. Ms Tshabalala joined the Alliance as the Finance and Administration Manager in 2020.
Ms Tshabalala described herself as a social entrepreneur dedicated to life-long learning and upliftment of disadvantaged members of communities.
Eastern Cape Coordinator
Nomonde Phindani is a women empowerment activist with interest in the intersectionality of gender, land, and justice. Ms Phindani has worked in a number of community structures that are focused on women’s rights, and founded the Eastern Cape Women’s Association.
She is an accredited facilitator with the Education, Training and Development (ETD) SETA. In 2020, Ms Phindani joined the Alliance in her role as the coordinator for the Eastern Cape. She holds a Higher Diploma in Adult Education from the University of South Africa (UNISA) and a Diploma in Personnel and Training Management from Damelin Management School. Ms Phindani also completed a short course in Systems Change and Social Impact (SC&SI) convened by the Bertha Centre for Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship, at the University of Cape Town (UCT) Graduate School of Business.
Reverend Mbhekiseni Mavuso is a passionate land activist with a background in Theology. He is no stranger to activism having co-founded Zizameleni Youth Club in the 1980s.
He has been a staunch opponent of the Bantustan system of separate development for black rural people and has campaigned in various capacities for rural democracy. Mr Mavuso’s community – Makhasaneni – is the subject of a documentary film titled “This Land” released by Plexus Films (https://www.thislandfilm.com). Mr Mavuso has been a part of various formations and structures in activism including Abahlali BasemJondolo (ShackDwellers) Movement of SA and Rural Network. In 2021, Mr Mavuso joined the Alliance as the coordinator for KwaZulu-Natal. He holds a Certificate in Theology and Democracy Certificate from the University of KwaZulu-Natal and a Certificate in Education Participatory Development also from the University of KwaZulu-Natal.
North West Coordinator
David Norbert Ramohanoe is a passionate land activist with a history in local governance, and community development. He is the Chairperson of Wonderkop Land Claims Committee, having a natural affinity for land justice and land reform in his community.
He is also the Former Chief Whip of Rustenburg Local Municipality, as well as a Former Ward Councillor. Since 2020, Mr Ramohanoe has served as the North West coordinator for the Alliance.
He holds a Diploma in Labour Relations Management from the University of South Africa (UNISA) and a Diploma in Advanced Labour Law also from the University of South Africa (UNISA). Most recently Mr Ramohanoe has completed a short course on Systems Change and Social Impact (SC&SI) convened by the Bertha Centre for Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship, at the University of Cape Town (UCT) Graduate School of Business.
The work of the Alliance is made possible through the dedicated partnership of Communal Property Associations, Trusts and Individual Households, rural activists CBOs advancing land justice. Presently, members of the Alliance include the Land Access Movement of South Africa, Land and Accountability Research Centre, Nkuzi Development Association, Institute for Poverty, Land and Agrarian Studies, Benchmarks Foundation, Phuhlisani NPC, Nelson Mandela Foundation and Amandla.MOBI.
The work of the ARD is supported by the generous funding of the Tshemba Foundation, Raith Foundation, Millennium Trust, and the Social Justice Initiative (grant currently managed by Social Change Agency Trust) as our core donors. We have also been supported for ad-hoc advocacy campaigns and received donations in kind from the Foundation for Human Rights, Land and Accountability Research Centre, Nelson Mandela Foundation and the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation.
Professor Ben Cousins holds a DST/NRF Chair in Poverty, Land and Agrarian Studies at the University of the Western Cape (UWC).
He established the Programme for Land and Agrarian Studies (now the Institute for Poverty, Land and Agrarian Studies) at UWC in 1995 and was its Director until 2009. He holds a DPhil in Applied Social Studies from the University of Zimbabwe, and was in exile between 1972 and 1991. He helped to establish and operate a training centre for small-scale farmers in Swaziland from 1976 to 1983, working in agricultural extension and training in Zimbabwe between 1983 and 1986 prior to his return to South Africa in 1991.
In 2013 Professor Cousines received an inaugural Elinor Ostrom Award for his contribution to scholarship on common property (‘the commons’). Owing to his extensive experience in the land sector, he is often called upon to comment on land reform and related issues in the media.
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Nolundi Luwaya is the director at LARC. Nolundi’s research interests include: rural women’s land rights under customary law and methods for understanding and protecting these rights that are informed by the experiences of rural women.
She is also interested in questions of legal pluralism and the challenges involved in teaching law in a plural system such as we have in South Africa. Nolundi holds a BA LLB and LLM from the University of Cape Town.
Dr Mbongiseni Buthelezi is the Executive Director of the Public Affairs Research Institute. He holds degrees from the University of KwaZulu-Natal and Columbia University in New York where he completed a doctorate in Comparative Literature with co-supervision in History and Anthropology.
He researches questions of governance, accountability and state building with a focus on land and traditional authorities in rural South Africa and has published extensively in these areas.
He also maintains a strong interest in poetry, language and other ways in which people make meaning of the worlds they live in.
Professor Tshepo Madlingozi is an Associate Professor and the Director of the Centre for Applied Legal Studies at WITS University. He has master’s degrees in both law and sociology and he received his PhD degree from Birkbeck, University of London. Professor Madlingozi is also Research Associate at the Chair for Critical Studies in Higher Education at Nelson Mandela University and an Extraordinary Senior Lecturer at the University of Stellenbosch.
He is the co-editor of South African Journal of Human Rights (and part of the management team of Pretoria University Law Press);. the Symbol or Substance: Socio-economic Rights in South Africa (Cambridge UP) and; the Introduction to Law and Legal Skills in South Africa, 2nd Edition (Oxford UP South Africa). Professor Madlingozi sits on the boards of amandla.mobi, Centre for Human Rights, University of Free State, Ikalafe Spiritual Healing Institute, Rural Democracy Trust and the Council for the Advancement of the South African Constitution.
For thirteen years he worked with and for Khulumani Support Group, a 120 000-strong social movement of victims and survivors of Apartheid.