Resurgence of tribal levies: Double taxation for the rural poor
People in the former homelands waged a successful battle against the imposition of 'tribal levies' during the anti-apartheid struggle. Recently, however, there has been a resurgence of traditional authorities demanding annual levies. Those who refuse to pay cannot access government grants and identity books. This article argues that recent laws bolstering the powers of traditional leaders have contributed to this resurgence. It argues that the laws undermine the citizenship rights of the poorest South Africans as well as their ability to hold traditional leaders to account. It suggests that the laws have been ambiguously worded in an attempt to disguise the fact that they are inconsistent with the Constitution. It rebuts the argument that annual tribal levies are consistent with and justified by customary law, by describing their colonial and apartheid genesis.
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