Traditional Leaders Audit; Initiations Winter 2015 Report: Deputy Minister briefing

This premium content has been made freely available

Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs

08 September 2015
Chairperson: Mr R Mdakane (ANC)
Share this page:

Meeting Summary

The Deputy Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs and the Department of Traditional Affairs briefed the Committee on the audit of traditional leaders which looked at the allocation of resources; the number of recognised traditional leaders per province and leadership positions as well as finalised and outstanding disputes and claims. The Deputy Minister said the Department might have to approach the President to extend the Commission on Traditional Leadership and Disputes and Claims because of the number of outstanding matters. The announcement by Premiers had been delayed so that they could deal with any re-referrals. The Department was developing a website because there were bogus leaders mushrooming in Daveyton, Alexandria and Soweto asking for monies from companies and putting traditional leaders in a bad light. The website was 90% complete and would indicate who and where traditional leaders were, who were their councils and the people they were serving.

There were a total of 7 969 traditional leaders. The traditional leaderships were aligned to municipal districts and local municipalities. The leadership structures were national, provincial and local houses of traditional leaders, kingship or queenship councils, principal traditional councils and traditional councils and sub-councils. The kingship or queenship councils and principal traditional councils would be established after the new Bill was ratified. The Remuneration Commission had not yet looked at local houses of traditional leaders which totalled 413 part time members and one full time member. The total number of claims lodged was 1 244. Limpopo still had a big backlog of 338 claims not finalised, the Eastern Cape had 26 outstanding claims, Mpumalanga had eight, the North West had five and KZN had one.

Members asked how the challenge of differentiating leadership was being dealt with, such as the fake King Molefe in the Vaal region. Has the issue of full time traditional leaders been resolved as there had been tension between councillors and traditional leadership members? In which provinces were Local Houses not in place and was there a programme to deal with this? Was there a programme to ensure that the 388 cases in Limpopo were concluded? Has the Free State House of Traditional Leaders been established? What progress was there on the new Traditional and Khoisan Leadership Bill and what potential impact would it have on the figures that had just been provided, for example the imminent recognition of the Khoisan? Could an idea of the amount spent on traditional leaders by the provinces be given? How would traditional leaders be determined in an urban setting? How far back in history did the Department go to determine a cut off date to determine who was or was not a traditional leader? Would the outstanding Limpopo cases be completed by December 2015?

Members said that if some principal traditional leaders fell away, would the structures also fall away? What was the reason for the claims still outstanding in some provinces, were they due to disputes? Some traditional leaders were paid by the provinces, what would happen if they had been paid above the scales set by the norms and standards? Would there be traditional leaders in the Western Cape?

Members said they was not in favour of deemed kings being traditional leaders. Why did one have to have principal traditional leaders? What was the role of the king in resolving disputes? What happened to bogus chiefs, were they arrested? Members asked whether if the traditional leadership claims in the Western Cape and Northern Cape were from the Khoisan, given that they were currently not recognised although the Bill recognising the Khoisan was imminent.

Members said a discussion was needed on the evolution of traditional leaders over the years because a lot had happened over time. What were the powers of traditional leaders? Why was more support given to certain kings than to others? Some Members questioned whether tax payers’ money was being used efficiently.

Report on Initiations
The figures were limited to the winter school of 2015 which ran from June 20 to July 20. The total intake was 48 340 initiates and there were 34 deaths. 29 deaths were in the Eastern Cape, three in Limpopo and one each in Mpumalanga and the North West. The Deputy Minister said the five major causes of death were dehydration, assaults and abuse, surgical operations, natural illnesses and general neglect.

The proliferation of illegal schools was a challenge. The Eastern Cape had the most illegal schools, then Gauteng, where illegal schools were mushrooming. Age had become a big issue with children between 8 to 12 years entering the school. The problem in Limpopo was the belief that the younger the person was, the better they healed. Another challenge was that initiation schools did not take place during school holidays only. There was peer pressure and stigmatism at schools if one had not been to initiation school. A further challenge was syndicates running initiation schools on a commercial basis. A big challenge was that municipalities did not have bylaws. The Department had to demystify the myths surrounding initiation schools. Role models needed to be utilised as well as posters and pamphlets in an education drive in the community. The policy had been presented to Cabinet who had returned it and asked that it be strengthened to criminalise illegal schools.

Members said action should be taken against illegal schools. Members noted that the Department of Basic Education was not part of the intervention and they should be brought in through, for example, with life orientation class lessons. Members asked if counselling was provided to amputees. Was there any relationship with the University of Stellenbosch. Members said in Libode children aged 9 to 12 were being sent to initiation schools. Members suggested there should be a mobile clinic in the area. Members said there should be an age limit, of only youth from age 18 could go to initiation schools. Members said the Bill had to be introduced speedily. Other Members said cultural matters should not be solved through law making. Society was not being mobilised enough. It was a crisis and the Department should have performance indicators for this area of their work. Members said the Committee should have a role to play through oversight visits and communities around schools should be mobilised.

Meeting report

Deputy Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs introduction
Mr Obed Bapela, Deputy Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, said
that while SA was a republic, Chapter 12 of the Constitution gave recognition to traditional leaders through the Traditional Leaders Framework Act. The audit looked at who these traditional leaders were, how many there were per province, the allocation of resources and the norms and standards that guided the Department and provinces adopted by MINMEC in 2013.

He said the Department might have to approach the President to extend the Commission on Traditional Leadership and Disputes and Claims because of the number of outstanding matters. The announcement by Premiers had been delayed so that they could deal with any re-referrals.

The Department was developing a website because there were bogus leaders mushrooming in Daveyton, Alexandria and Soweto asking for monies from companies and putting traditional leaders in a bad light. The website was 90% complete and would indicate who and where traditional leaders were, who their councils were and the people they were serving.

Audit of Traditional Leaders briefing
Mr Charles Nwaila, Director-General in the Department of Traditional Affairs, said that their remuneration was to enable traditional leaders to do their prescribed functions. The Independent Commission for the Remuneration of Public Office Bearers made annual recommendations on salaries and on their tools of trade.

In 2011 the Commission made recommendations (see Annexure A). In 2013, following this, COGTA and its provincial departments developed a national minimum norms and standards framework for the allocation of resources, enabling provision of resources to qualifying traditional leaders (see Annexure B). This was adopted by MINMEC and provinces in 2013. Provinces would customise the remuneration to suit their own circumstances. Salaries were the same for all positions around the country.

On the number of recognised traditional leaders per province and leadership positions, he said that recognised leadership positions were the kings and queens; the principal traditional leader, which was a transitional arrangement for deemed kingships which they would hold until they die; senior traditional leaders and headmen or women who head villages. There were a total of 7 969 traditional leaders. The Nhlapho Commission was formed in 2004 to process disputes and claims that had been lodged. The Commission investigated and its first report in 2008 found, of the 12 paramountcies, 6 were qualifying and some not.  After further investigation, its 2010 report found seven to be real kings and 12 were announced as deemed kings. [Kings not recognised will be deemed as kings and receive all benefits and remuneration payable to kings until they pass on.  Their successors will forfeit their status].

The traditional leaderships were aligned to municipal districts and local municipalities. The leadership structures were national, provincial and local houses of traditional leaders, kingship or queenship councils, principal traditional councils and traditional councils and sub – councils. The kingship or queenship councils, principal traditional councils would be established after the new Bill was ratified. He spoke to the membership of the national, provincial and local houses of traditional leaders and their salary allowances.

Mr Mileham asked if these salaries were in addition to what they got as a traditional leader.

Mr Nwaila replied that one did not occupy two positions one had to resign from one of the positions.

They were looking at making all part time members into full time members, working full time in their areas, because it would be more cost effective. The Remuneration Commission had not yet looked at local houses of traditional leaders which totalled 413 part time members and one full time member.

On finalised and outstanding disputes and claims, the total number of claims lodged was 1 244. The Nhlapho Commission whose term expired in 2010, had only managed to deal with 18 claims because they had focussed on doing a thorough job on kingships. The new commission was established in January 2011 to deal with the outstanding claims. Limpopo still had a big backlog of 338 claims not finalised because they took a year to appoint a committee to process the claims. The Eastern Cape had 26 outstanding claims, Mpumalanga had eight, the North West had five and KZN had one.

Discussion
Mr A Masondo (ANC) asked how the challenge of differentiating leadership was being dealt with, like the fake King Molefe in the Vaal region. Has the issue of full time traditional leaders been resolved as there had been tension between councillors and traditional leadership members? In which provinces were Local Houses not in place and was there a programme to deal with this? Was there a programme to ensure that the 388 cases in Limpopo were concluded

Mr K Mileham (DA) asked if the Free State House of Traditional Leaders had been established. He questioned the accuracy of a number that had been quoted in the presentation. On the national norms and standards, he said that some provinces went overboard in providing resources, like for King Zwelithini for example. What was being done to mediate these types of instances. R780m per annum was spent by the fiscus on providing resources for traditional leaders. The problem was why resources were allowed that were over the top like, for example the cell phone allowance. He said reading material should be for their own expense. The state owned motor vehicles were sold after 3 years or 150 000km not the normal five years and they were given business class seats on national and international air travel. What controls were in place for travel allowance usage and what were the rates used. What progress was there on the new Bill and what potential impact would it have on the figures that had just been provided, for example the imminent recognition of the Khoisan? Could an idea of the amount spent on traditional leaders by the provinces be given?

Mr C Matsepe (DA) noted that two traditional leaders were based in Gauteng. How would traditional leaders be determined in an urban setting? Limpopo had the largest number of outstanding cases. How far back in history did the Department go to determine a cut off date?

Mr M Hlengwa (IFP) said that while the issue of the traditional leaders took a step closer to finalisation, did it not create a duplication of government and municipalities with regard to chapter 7 and 12 of the Constitution because traditional leaders had been seconded to municipalities and the arrangement was not clearly defined. This would lead to traditional leaders being set up for failure and just being cash cows. Did the Bill address this issue and had there been consultation with traditional leaders on this matter? Another issue was that of recognition and installation. Some leaders were recognised and doing the work but were not installed and some were not recognised and not doing the work but were installed. Would the outstanding Limpopo cases be completed by December 2015? He said the pace of change in the role and function of traditional leaders should be equal to the pace of financial change.

Mr E Mthethwa (ANC) said that when the principal traditional leaders fell away, would the structures also fall away? What was the reason for claims to still be outstanding in some provinces, were they disputes? Some traditional leaders were paid by the provinces. What would happen if they had been paid above the scales set by the norms and standards?

A Committee member asked who was paying the local house of traditional leaders because if they were not paid there would be challenges due to a lack of uniformity. Would there be traditional leaders in the Western Cape?

Mr B Bhanga (DA) said he was not in favour of deemed kings being traditional leaders. Why did one have to have principal traditional leaders? What was the role of the king in resolving disputes? How long was the extension the Department needed in order to complete the Limpopo cases? What happened to bogus chiefs, were they arrested?

Mr P Mapulane (ANC) asked whether some of the claims for traditional leadership in the Western Cape and Northern Cape were from the Khoisan, given they were currently not recognised although a Bill recognising the Khoisan was imminent.

Deputy Minister Bapela said the Bill coming to parliament would deal with conferring recognition of the Khoisan because they had been pushed to the margins of society. The Bill needed to be approved by Cabinet before being introduced to Parliament by the Minister. Letters had been drafted for the Minsters signature and the Bill would then follow the parliamentary process.

Regarding outstanding claims, he said the commission had done a lot of work and had consolidated it into a report and made recommendations to the provincial premiers. If the Premiers rejected the commission's recommendations then the commission had to do further investigation and refer the matter once again back to the Premier.

He said Limpopo and North West provinces were lagging behind in settling claims. He had met with the premier of Limpopo, because of the dissatisfaction with the progress made to date. There were few members on the commission. The premier said that more capacity would be given to the commission because the commission was few and resources would be allocated.

The Chairperson asked why there were so many cases in Limpopo.

Deputy Minister Bapela replied that Limpopo had a lot of traditional leaders. He said many of the claims had disputes at the family level – similarly in the North West. This is why he had given warning that the Commission on Traditional Leadership and Disputes and Claims might need to be extended for a year beyond its December 2015 end of term. The longer it took to finalise claims, the greater the tensions that arose so the sooner it was resolved the better.

He said that once the Khoisan were recognised, this would have an impact on the budget. Every claim would be investigated. The Free State and the Northern Cape were the only traditional houses that recognised them even if not officially, and this would assist in their transition. There would be a period of investigation, rejection and acceptance of claims.

A challenge was in the local houses because areas still had signs saying tribal authorities, yet tribal authorities no longer existed. There were areas where both existed because the conversion to the new law had not occurred at the provincial level. Provinces had been engaged on this matter.

Regarding Mr Hlengwa’s question on the Cabinet memo of 2013, Deputy Minister Bapela said the document was not adopted by Cabinet so it had no legal basis. Notwithstanding this, there were a number of points from that document that could be revisited when looking at the Bill. Part of the tension between councillors and traditional leaders arose out of the roles and functions of the two. Government governed while traditional leaders provided jurisdictional leadership on customary law and practices which the Traditional Laws Bill would provide. It was important that these roles did not compete with one another. Section 81 gave some indication of the role traditional leaders could play at municipal level but there were contradictions because the design of municipalities councils did not give traditional leadership space to participate and incorporate traditional leadership’s voice in decisions.

On the deemed king model, he said SA had opted to follow the reconciliation path to move the country forward. So, for people who had been instituted for political reasons would not be stripped, they would become principal leaders for life after which others would be senior traditional leaders. This was a phasing out process. Bogus chiefs have not been arrested because no public money was given to them. Those that gave money had to institute fraud charges against the bogus chiefs.

On the resources provided to kings in particular, he said the norms and standards provided the minimum and provinces had to look at the model of funding to assist kings and improve the situation taking into account the role, status and the affordability. The kings earn the same salary.

Mr Masondo said a discussion was needed on the evolution of traditional leaders over the years because a lot had happened over time. What were the powers of traditional leaders?

Mr Bhanga said it went deeper and spoke to issues of land and of kingdoms. He asked why more support was given to certain kings than was given to others. One could not wait for a certain king to die before equalising resources because it would continue inequality. Why should they be given houses and protection?

Mr Hlengwa said the Department of the Royal Household had been disbanded and replaced by a trust. He said the historical context was very important.

Mr Mileham said that the question was whether tax payers’ money was being used efficiently. How was this state funding being spent?
 
The Chairperson said there was one state, one law, one government, one South Africa and it should not become a question of divide and rule. One could not say that traditional leaders were created by the British, therefore they had to be removed. A decision had to be taken on whether money would be paid to people doing nothing.

Deputy Minister Bapela said he agreed on the need to look at the historical context. He said the norms and standards were there to indicate the minimum level, but if provinces could afford to give more they could use their own discretion. The Department would like to see a harmonisation at all levels. He said that while the Department was concerned about governance and structures, the traditional leaders were also about managing rural development and land claims and land redistribution. Other areas they could be involved was cultural tourism.

Mr Nwaila said the proliferation of traditional leaders was not supposed to arise as there was a hierarchy of vacancies that had to be filled. The issue would be dealt with in the Bill. The law did not allow for new positions to be created. He hoped that the audits by provinces would be concluded by the end of November. The Amathlubi matter was concluded and submitted to the Nhlapo Commission. The matter of the fake king in the Vaal area was concluded. He was found not to be a king. Another similar case of a fake king had also been identified. On the full time traditional leaders and tensions between them and councillors. Traditional leaders were complaining that councillors were receiving an ex gratia payment and this matter had been presented to the Remuneration Commission and they were looking into the matter. The answers to a number of the questions could be found in Annexure B. The current Bill addressed the issue of houses and they had advised provinces not to go ahead with making local houses. There was a programme to assist Limpopo in dealing with its cases. Limpopo was behind in dealing with its cases because Limpopo only appointed their committee one year later. He confirmed to Mr Mileham that the number quoted was incorrect and should have been 23 local houses.

On the question of how much the provinces were paying, Mr Nwaila said that there were set standards for the annual salary and for allowances determined by the Independent Commission for the Remuneration of Public Office Bearers. Studies had been done that estimated there were 360 000 Khoi and San people, the majority were the 300 000 Griquas, 1 000 Khoi and 40 communities were represented by five groups who would apply for recognition after the Bill came into effect.

Mr Nwaila said that the two traditional leaders in Gauteng were from Mpumalanga and North West who found themselves in Gauteng because provincial boundaries had changed. The Department would recognise as far back in history to September 1927, after the introduction of the Black Administration Act. On the issue of installation/ recognition, he said it was challenging for provinces if the royal family decided on a person to succeed if the process was not well managed because it could take time. The Department was working on royal genealogies. There had been 29 disputed claims in the Western Cape, all of which had been declined.

On the role of the king, Mr Nwaila said a king was a king because of the people around him and hence traditional leaders dealt with disputes effectively. Limpopo would be given a maximum extension of 24 months. Bogus chiefs were not arrested because there was no law to work from and this frustrated efforts. On the question of why build houses for the chiefs and deputy chiefs, he said this was decided by the Independent Commission.

The Chairperson said there should be no inheritance of an induna’s position.

Initiations Winter 2015 Report
The figures were limited to the winter school of 2015 which ran from June 20 to July 20. The total intake was 48 340 initiates and there were 34 deaths with 29 deaths in the Eastern Cape, three in Limpopo and one each in Mpumalanga and the North West.
 
Deputy Minister Bapela said the Department had had a successful campaign but one death was one death too many. The number of cases in 2012/13 was 161 which was reduced to 69 and further reduced to 43 in the summer of the previous year. This year there were 34 deaths.

In the winter of 2015, the document showed the provincial breakdown of number of initiates as follows:
 

Province

Number of Initiates in the past winter season

EC

(  Approximately 30 000

FS

58

Gauteng

2000 (estimate)

KZN

 (Information not available

LIMP

8 300

MPU

7 800

NC

0

NW

107 (including 10 female initiates)

Western Cape

75

TOTAL

Approximately 48,340


There were five major causes of death: dehydration, assaults and abuse, surgical operations, natural illnesses and general neglect.

He said the proliferation of illegal schools was a challenge. People who did not get into the legal schools went to schools in the forest or mountainous areas away from the eyes of the community and children just disappeared from homes. Parents were not reporting these matters to the police station and paid the people who ran these illegal schools. They did not want to take their children out because there was a myth that one could not disrupt the school by the removal of the child from the school because something bad would happen to the child.

The Eastern Cape had the most illegal schools, then Gauteng, where illegal schools were mushrooming. In the past people sent their child back home to the rural areas but now because people were not travelling back home, they looked for a solution in the urban areas. In addition there were no traditional leaders in Gauteng to oversee the process.

In Limpopo there were no deaths in legal schools but three deaths in illegal schools. A challenge in Limpopo was the border with Mpumalanga, where children who were kidnapped in Gauteng and Daveyton went to or near the river border with Limpopo. When the mothers of some children went to Limpopo and met the kidnapped boys, the boys had refused to leave the school and the police could not do anything because there was no case of kidnapping. This was a challenge.

He said age had become a big issue with children between 8 to 12 years entering the school. The problem in Limpopo was the belief that the younger the person was, the better they healed. He said it was not a question of circumcision as that only played a 10% part of the initiation.

Regarding the period of the initiation, he said that the winter school would always fall outside of the holiday period with the resultant loss of attendance at state schools. Girl initiation schools lasted three months and so grade 8 to 10 students would only be back at state schools in October. If the parent did not push for action ,the Department could not do anything.

There was also the issue of peer pressure and stigmatism at schools. If one had not been to initiation school, one was targeted and stigmatised for the whole year. In the Eastern Cape, of the 29 who died, 24 were in Pondoland. When questioned, the reply was that the Mpondo had abandoned the culture and Mpondo boys were stigmatised leading to the boys going to schools on their own. Traditional leaders had no control.

He said syndicates were in operation running schools on a commercial basis. There was an individual who ran a school four times a year who refused to register. In Gauteng’s Orange Farm two gangsters were fighting each other for control and exerting pressure on boys of the area to go to bush school. Those who did not complete the school because they landed up in hospital, had to do a second circumcision in the bush, so it was better for a doctor to go to the bush school than for the boy to go to a hospital. A big challenge was that metro municipalities did not have bylaws. The policy had been presented to Cabinet who had returned it and asked that it be strengthened to criminalise illegal schools.

He said even if the Department had to camp in Pondoland for months, it needed to demystify the myths surrounding initiation schools. All the schools in the area needed to be monitored, role models needed to be utilised as well as posters and pamphlets in an education drive in the community.

Mr Hlengwa said he was a proponent of the initiation process. Mention was made of illegal schools so action against these criminals should be taken.

Ms N Mthembu (ANC) said she noted that the Department of Basic Education was not part of the intervention and they should be brought in through, for example, life orientation class lessons.

Mr Bhanga asked if counselling was provided to amputees. Was there any relationship with the University of Stellenbosch? He said in Libode children, aged 9 to 12, were being sent to initiation schools. In Pondoland people had children circumcised in their own homes. There was no education on initiation in the area. He suggested there be a mobile clinic in the area. There should be an age limit, where only youth from age 18 and 19 could go to initiation schools. He said the Bill had to be introduced speedily.

Mr Mapulane said initiation taught community values and how to behave as young adults, it was not about circumcision. At present the boys were not being taught those values and it had become commercialised. Certain areas needed to be legislated because it was not regulated well enough. The age should be stipulated and it should be a crime if not adhered to.

Mr Masondo said cultural matters could not be solved through law making. Society was not being mobilised enough. It was a crisis and the department should have performance indicators for this area of their work.

A Committee member said the issue was sensitive because it dealt with traditional leaders and so the Department had to engage with the traditional leaders. The main aim was that there be no loss of life.

Mr Matsepe said the reason why Limpopo province had a small number of casualties was because it had a system. The root cause of the problem was money. The age of the initiate was not an issue to indunas who wanted the money.

Mr Bhanga said the Committee should have a role to play through oversight visits and communities around schools should be mobilised.
 
Deputy Minister Bapela said the policy was being fast tracked and once Cabinet adopted it, the Department would develop legislation and start the parliamentary process and he expected the process to be completed by June 2016. It was unfortunate that the law had to be used to compel people to do a certain thing when for thousands of years prior to this it was done without killing anyone. It was illegal not to be registered or approved in the context of a letter of approval and compliance. He said that there was not an established, organised counselling programme for amputees. They were looking to involve the Departments of Health and Social Development. On mobilising society, he said that South Africa needed to be educated on culture. He ended off by noting that he was involved in mediation efforts because one king had called another king derogatory names. It was important that the tribal beliefs of a tribe not be imposed on another tribe with different beliefs.

The meeting was adjourned
 

Share this page: