National House of Traditional Leaders (NHTL) briefed the Committee on its Strategic Plan 2011-2013. It derived its mandate from the Constitution and the National House of Traditional Leaders Act of 2009.The NHTL was supposed to obtain support from government departments but such support was not yet forthcoming. The NHTL was also supposed to fulfil an advisory function to government the manner in which had to still be determined.
Strategic Priorities for 2011- 2013 included the improvement of the capacity and capability of the NHTL to deliver on its mandate and to participate in service delivery and rural development. The Committee was informed that legislative amendments to the National House of Traditional Leaders Act and the Traditional Leadership and Governance Framework Act were underway to consolidate the two Acts into a single Act. This was to ensure that there was an integrated approach in dealing with all matters involving traditional affairs. The consolidated Act would also address gaps and legal uncertainties identified in the two Acts. It would also include the recognition of traditional Khoi-San communities, leadership and structures. Once recognised the Khoi-San could form part of the NHTL.
In addition to the presentation the NHTL was also afforded the opportunity to inform Members of difficulties and challenges that they were experiencing.
Members were concerned about the delay in finalising the Khoi-San issue. What was the reason for the delay? The Committee agreed to engage with the Department of Traditional Affairs concerning timeframes on the proposed bill. The term deputy traditional leader was discussed by Members as the concept was fairly new. One of the major challenges that the NHTL highlighted was that of budgets and the lack of it in its structures. For example provincial houses of traditional leaders were supposed to receive funding from provinces. In many instances funding was not forthcoming. The Committee needed to decide how best to assist the NHTL regarding budgets and funding. The Committee also expressed concern regarding the differentiation between the Department and the NHTL. The NHTL was funded from budget of the Department of Traditional Affairs and it was difficult to separate the Department and the NHTL from each other. The NHTL was operating within the Department of Traditional Affairs. The common feeling by members was that as the process moved forward a distinction needed to be made between the two. The Committee also felt that there should be a better working relationship between traditional leaders and municipalities. The NHTL had complained that it did not have offices allocated to it in parliament. The Committee agreed to raise the issue with the Minister of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs.
National House of Traditional Leaders (NHTL) briefing
The NHTL briefed the Committee on its Strategic Plan 2011-2013. The delegation comprised of Dr Wilson Makgalancheche, Chief Executive Officer (CEO), and Kgosi P Maubane, the Chairperson. Dr Makgalancheche undertook the briefing.
At the outset, he stated that both he and Kgosi Maubane were newly appointed in their positions but would nevertheless try to indicate the areas that the NHTL was responsible for. The Committee was given insight into the mandate and vision of the NHTL. The NHTL derived its mandate from the Constitution and the National House of Traditional Leaders Act of 2009.
The NHTL was supposed to obtain support from government departments but it was yet to be seen. The NHTL was also supposed to fulfil an advisory function to government the manner in which had to still be determined. The Act further elaborated upon the mandate of the NHTL which was amongst others to be responsible for indigenous knowledge systems, culture and values. Part of the vision of the NHTL was to promote rural and traditional communities.
Mr Makgalancheche continued by touching on the NHTL’s Strategic Priorities for 2011- 2013. Improvement of the capacity and capability of the NHTL and the Institution to deliver on its mandate and participation in service delivery and rural development were some of the strategic priorities mentioned. Legislative amendments to the National House of Traditional Leaders Act and the Traditional Leadership and Governance Framework Act were underway to consolidate the two Acts into a single Act. This was to ensure that there was an integrated approach in dealing with all matters involving traditional affairs. The consolidated Act would also address gaps and legal uncertainties identified in the two Acts. The issues that would be covered included the composition of a kingship or a queenship council, principal traditional council and traditional council, withdrawal of recognition of traditional leadership, recognition of deputy traditional leaders, dysfunctional councils, location of local houses of traditional leaders, participation of traditional leaders in municipal councils and lastly code of conduct. In 2004 Cabinet resolved that the relevant department attend to the issue of the recognition of the Khoi-San communities, leadership and structures.
A Draft White Paper on Khoi-San communities, leadership and structures was submitted to Cabinet in March 2009. Cabinet directed that the Traditional Leadership and Governance Framework Act be amended to provide for the recognition of traditional Khoi-San communities, leadership and structures. The consolidated Act would include the recognition of traditional Khoi-San communities, leadership and structures. Current projects of the NHTL included provincial assessment projects, which assessed the state of governance within the areas of traditional affairs in all provinces except the Western Cape in addition to establishing effective and efficient networks to strengthen the capacity of the NHTL to deliver on its mandate. A diagrammatical representation of a traditional affairs model was shown to Members. In referring to the model, Mr Makgalancheche stated that poor governance and poor leadership was the reason why Africa was seen as backward. Collaboration with government was needed to improve traditional leadership. Areas of collaboration included culture, customs, ethics, religion and values. Proposed initiatives were outreach programmes by the NHTL Chairperson and Deputy Chairperson to visit provinces for strategic interaction; stakeholder engagement with the National Working Committee, the ruling party and the South African Local Government Association (SALGA) was planned; existing memorandums of association with stakeholders would be re-visited; a strategic lekgotla with provincial houses of traditional leadership and a stakeholder summit was also planned. There was also a need to build institutional integrity as many provincial houses of traditional leadership did not have decent offices.
Mr A Matila (ANC, Gauteng) noted that the NHTL leadership were new in their jobs; however he felt that the presentation was quiet on timeframes. The Cabinet decision over the Khoi-San issue was taken a long time ago. The Committee had initially not wanted to pass the two Bills that were now Acts as Members had been aware that amendments in the future were in the pipeline. The Khoi-San issue should have been resolved. The Committee needed more details on timeframes.
Dr Makgalancheche conceded that even though they were new to the NHTL they appreciated the fact that there were areas that needed attention. He agreed that timeframes was key. The presentation was a breakdown of the activities of the NHTL for 2011, 2012 and 2013. The Cabinet decision to address the Khoi-San issue was taken in 2004. Perhaps there was a reason why no timeframes had been set. If the Committee so wished the NHTL could provide a breakdown of all targets. It could be forwarded to Members in due course. The challenges faced in meeting targets could also be highlighted. The Committee could keep a check on the non-adherence to targets.
Mr T Beyleveld (DA, Western Cape) asked in practical terms where the funding for the NHTL Council and Sub-Council was coming from.
Dr Makgalancheche replied that funding was a problem. Government and more specific the Department on Traditional Affairs had to provide support to the NHTL. The NHTL was funded by the Department of Traditional Affairs.
Kgosi Maubane agreed that funding was an issue. Government had not made provision for elected members of traditional councils. Traditional councils relied on its own resources. In many areas traditional councils were not paid at all. Grants were available but amounts did not exceed R100 000 per annum. Traditional Councils required government support in this regard.
Kgosi Maubane noted that there were 4 tiers in traditional leadership. There was the National House, Provincial Houses, Local Houses and lastly the Local Councils. This system operated from top to bottom. As far as budgets were concerned the Local House had no budget. Some Provincial Houses were not even aware of what their budgets were. There was no uniformity or parity of houses and the Committee’s intervention was necessary in this regard. Since the NHTL’s inception, requests had been made for a chamber for the NHTL in Parliament. These attempts have not yielded any result and the NHTL had no offices in parliament. The seat of administration of the NHTL was in Pretoria.
Mr B Nesi (ANC, Eastern Cape) was interested to know why Dr Makgalancheche had introduced Kgosi Maubane to the Committee. Why had the Kgosi not spoken himself? He was also interested in the relationship between traditional leaders and municipal councillors. What was the NHTL’s take on the issue and what was its role in developing the relationship. He asked whether traditional leaders and municipal councillors complemented each other.
Dr Makgalancheche explained that it was protocol for him to speak on behalf of the Kgosi. The relationship between traditional leaders and councillors was a huge challenge. Who did assessments? The Department and the NHTL did assessments. The two organisations worked together.
At local government level in some instances traditional leaders were not consulted when Integrated Development Plans (IDPs) were drafted. Traditional leaders were sometimes invited to ceremonial functions once IDPs were completed. The question was whether legislation actually empowered the NHTL. The relationship between traditional leaders and councillors needed to be addressed.
Kgosi Maubane added that even though the relationship between traditional councils and municipalities were not as it should be he envisaged a better relationship in the future. A possibility was that municipalities could relinquish some of its functions to traditional councils.
Mr J Gunda (ID, Northern Cape) asked if the role of the NHTL was responsible for indigenous knowledge, culture and values what the NHTL was doing to protect the indigenous knowledge, culture and values of the Khoi-San people. He asked what the delay on the Khoi-San issue was. Why was the NHTL not taking the Khoi-San onboard? The Khoi-San was just another traditional group. He stated that the Provincial House of Khoi-San in the Northern Cape had been recognised. Individuals had been elected to represent the Khoi-San. These individuals had not been remunerated by the provinces since 2009.
Dr Makgalancheche replied that one of the main reasons why a legislative amendment was being proposed to the National House of Traditional Leaders Act and the Traditional Leadership and Governance Framework Act was to recognise Khoi-San leadership. The delay in the process was not the fault of the NHTL. He was aware of the payment issues in the Northern Cape. The NHTL had scheduled a meeting to take place in the Northern Cape in March 2011 where the payment issue and other issues would be addressed. Budgets varied from province to province. It depended on the budget of the province. The outreach programme mentioned in the presentation could come up with norms and standards for funding.
Kgosi Maubane explained that the Khoi-San could not be allowed to join the NHTL in terms of current legislation, hence the proposed legislative amendments. Ongoing engagement with the Khoi-San Council would take place. The NHTL was also engaging on the issue of indigenous knowledge systems.
Mr Nesi asked what a deputy traditional leader was.
The Chairperson asked whether a deputy traditional leader was also part of the royal family.
Kgosi Maubane explained that whenever a traditional leader was elected on a full time basis it was either the traditional leader himself or a deputy traditional leader. The term deputy traditional leader was a new term and legislation required that the seat should remain filled at all times. The deputy traditional leader would be identified by the particular royal family in terms of succession.
Mr Matila pointed out that much of what had been presented on had already been presented to the Committee by the Department. Was the NHTL separate from the Department? If the NHTL and the Department was not separate, it was a problem. He felt that if there was no separation then the process could not move forward.
Dr Makgalancheche replied that the NHTL was funded from the budget of the Department of Traditional Affairs. It was difficult to separate the Department and the NHTL from each other. The NHTL was operating within the Department of Traditional Affairs. Even Provincial Houses were funded from Provincial Departments on Traditional Affairs. The NHTL was a statutory body within the Department of Traditional Affairs. There was no way that the NHTL could operate separately as things stood.
Mr Gunda was not happy with the progress on the Khoi-San issue. The Minister had even expressed disappointment that the process was taking too long. Why was the Khoi-San not part of the NHTL? Was it not the NHTL’s responsibility to have ensured that all indigenous groups including the Khoi-San were incorporated into the House? What was the NHTL doing to keep the Khoi-San language alive in the Northern Cape? The present state of affairs was unacceptable and was considered reversal of colonisation. Certain ethnic groups were being excluded. What was the reason? One ethnic group was not better than the other. He was of the opinion that the NHTL did not speak on behalf of South Africans but spoke on behalf of certain indigenous groups. The Khoi-San in terms of the Constitution had as much right to be part of the NHTL as any other indigenous group.
Mr L Nzimande (ANC, KZN) stated that the issue of the Khoi-San being included into the NHTL was in legislation hence the proposed amendments. The question was about timeframes and how to speed up the process.
Mr Matila stated that the issue of the Khoi-San was already raised at the time that the Committee was dealing with the National House of Traditional Leaders Bill and the Traditional Leadership and Governance Framework Bill. The Department had assured the Committee that the Khoi-San issue would be addressed in 2010. It was already 2011 and the matter still had not been finalised. The issue of budgets and wages of provincial traditional leaders had also been raised by Members and the Department had given the assurance that it was being dealt with. He suggested that the Department be called before the Committee to deal with the issues raised by Members.
The Chairperson noted that the point of the meeting was for the NHTL to inform the Committee if they needed assistance. The meeting had been useful in highlighting issues and concerns. The Department would be called upon to respond to the issues raised. The NHTL should come up with recommendations that the Committee could perhaps consider.
Mr Nhlakanipho Nkhontwana, Special Adviser, COGTA Ministry, replied that the Khoi-San issue was an ongoing one. The Department was trying to ensure that there were no contestations within the Khoi-San. Already some of the Khoi-San members did not recognise the National Khoi-San Council as being legitimate. Broad consultation over the issue was needed on the draft bill. Different groupings besides the Khoi-San Council had to be consulted. The Department was aware of the funding issues of traditional structures. On the Department’s side, it was trying to fast track the process on the bill. The Department would provide a briefing to the Committee explaining the broader picture.
The Chairperson asked from where was the National Khoi-San Council?
Mr Nkhontwana replied that the National Khoi-San Council was a national structure. There were however groupings that were not part of it.
The Chairperson pointed out that matters were made difficult where there were different groupings.
Mr Nesi was concerned by the explanation given of a deputy traditional leader. Could a traditional leader simply vacate his post and his responsibility and have someone else stand in as a deputy so that he could pursue other interests.
Dr Makgalancheche explained that it was about how people were deployed. Sometimes a person would be required to serve at another level. A person could not be denied to participate in another structure other than the structure that he had originally been placed with.
Kgosi Maubane stated that a deputy traditional leader could not be asked to fill in where the traditional leader was perhaps pursuing economic interests in the private sector. For example, where a traditional leader was elected as a Member of Parliament, a deputy could be asked to take over in the meantime. The deputy was only in an acting post and the traditional leader was not relinquishing his post. If a traditional leader was vacating his post for business reasons then he would have to relinquish his seat. The concerns of Members regarding the Khoi-San issue were noted. The NHTL had taken a decision that the incorporation of the Khoi-San into the House had to be in line with legislation. The Khoi-San would first have to be recognised as traditional leaders who would be eligible to be members of a provincial house of traditional leaders. In the meantime engagement would continue.
The Chairperson, in closing, wished to highlight certain points. He asked that the Committee and its counterpart in the National Assembly, the Portfolio Committee on Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs, be invited to the Lekgotla/Summit which was mentioned in the presentation. The Committee would engage with the Department regarding timeframes on the proposed bill. The issue of deputy traditional leader was not exhaustively discussed. Members had only expressed their views. Members should not get emotional over the Khoi-San issue. Members were legislators and not arbitrators. The issues regarding budgets were serious and the Committee needed to decide how best to assist the NHTL regarding finances. The final issue was the differentiation between the Department and the NHTL. As the process moves forward a distinction needed to be made between the two.
Mr Matila stated that the issue of the NHTL not having an office in Parliament needed to be addressed.
The Chairperson suggested that the matter be taken up with the Minister as it was too political. The NHTL was encouraged to engage with members regularly on difficulties that it might be experiencing.
The meeting was adjourned.
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