Provinces can pass land laws

PROVINCIAL legislatures can pass laws on land and housing but its members need to be cautious about how they interpret the execution of the law.

This judgment was handed down in the Constitutional Court yesterday.

Abahlali baseMjondolo Movement of South Africa challenged the KwaZulu-Natal government, including premier Zweli Mkhize, his cabinet and bodies responsible for housing and land.

The organisation, which represents thousands of informal settlements dwellers, took the case to the Constitutional Court after losing their challenge in the high court.

Firstly, they claimed that the whole KwaZulu-Natal Elimination and Prevention of Re-emergence of Slums Act was invalid as the province's legislature had no power to make the law because that was the legislative competence reserved for the national legislature.

They also contended that the act gave human settlements MEC Magasvarie Govender eviction powers inconsistent with the Constitution and thus invalid.

The court unanimously rejected the first contention, ruling that the act is not concerned with evictions alone but with the elimination of slum conditions by upgrading and relocation. The court also pointed out that the act placed detailed responsibilities on municipalities.