All communal land vests in the President who permits it to be occupied in accordance with statute. The statute gives overall authority over the allocation and use of communal land to the rural district council within which the communal land falls. The rural council must consent to the occupation of communal land by any individual and should issue a settlement permit to the head of each household in the village. However, in granting such approval or consent, a council must have regard to customary law relating to the allocation, occupation, and use of land in the area concerned, and consult and co-operate with the chief appointed to preside over the community concerned in terms of the Traditional Leaders Act .
It must also grant occupation only to persons who, according to the customary law of the community have traditionally and continuously occupied and used land in the area concerned and are regarded as forming part of such community, or who, according to such customary law, may be permitted to occupy and use such land. In effect then, a rural district council appears to hold decisions made by the chief for the district, allowing the chief to wield enormous power over the inhabitants of the area.