Traditional and Khoi San Leadership Bill [B23-2015]: deliberations on public hearings report

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Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs

10 May 2017
Chairperson: Mr M Mdakane (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

Documents handed out:
Committee Report on Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Budget
[available once published Tabled Committee Reports]

The Chairperson opened the meeting on the Traditional and Khoi-San Leadership Bill by referring to the observations and recommendations made in the Portfolio Committee’s report. After a consensus was reached that all present Members were happy with the report, it was adopted. The public hearing report was second on the agenda, and the Chairperson advised that this report was not for the Committee to adopt, but rather to analyse.

The main issue raised when Members considered the public hearing report was the proposal of a separate bill for Khoi-San leaders. This was justified by the Chairperson, who argued extensively that the Khoi-San felt that they had a different system to normal traditional leaders, and that therefore they needed a specific bill that would deal specifically with Khoi-San related matters. A Member cautioned against this approach, advising that the issue was not with a separate bill, but rather about the recognition of Khoi-San traditional leaders. It was important to firstly recognise Khoi-San leaders, before bringing them into the mainstream. Issues of funding for traditional leaders were a concern because different communities did not have the same number of chiefs governing over them.

Due to the meeting not dealing with every single issue raised in the Traditional and Khoi-San Leadership Bill, Members were advised to watch the public hearing report video. 

Meeting report

Traditional and Khoi-San Leadership Bill

The Chairperson said the agenda would focus on the observations and recommendations for the Traditional and Khoi-San Leadership Bill. When observing the bill and making recommendations, Members should refrain from raising trivial matters such as spelling mistakes, although if there was an issue with the language used, or incorrect figures, they should correct them as they read through the bill.

Clause 1: Portfolio Committee observations

There were seven observations detailed in the Portfolio Committee’s report. The Chairperson asked the Members if they were all happy with the observations, and they showed silent assent.

The Chairperson moved on to the recommendations, which could be found from 8.1 to 8.7 of the report. He proposed that there be a certain date put forward to check on the progress made on the briefings mentioned in 8.4 and 8.5. Members did not comment on this suggestion, and the Chairperson moved on to ask about the recovery services.

Mr E Mthethwa (ANC) said that 7.5 had been left out, and that there was a need for a briefing report.

The Chairperson asked Members whether, after these observations, they were happy to adopt the report, and there was no disagreement. The report was adopted.

The Chairperson mentioned that EFF members were not present in the meeting and that perhaps this could be due to preparations for the budget debate happening next week Thursday.

Clause 2: Public Hearing Report

The Chairperson said that the public hearings report was a summary of a lengthy issue and was not for the House to adopt. The report had been presented on 9 May 2017 by the Committee researcher, Mr Andile Sokomani. The public hearing report was to assist in dealing with the bill. The chairperson asked the Members if there were any issues with the report.

Ms B Maluleke (ANC) said she was very confused by the sentence on the “non-recognition of wives of chiefs,” and asked for clarification.

Mr N Masondo (ANC) suggested that there should be more clarity on what was meant by “wives of chiefs”. He also wanted to raise and clarify the issue of the Mangwanani people, with emphasis on the fact that they had since been integrated into the community.

The Chairperson said that the point being raised was that there was a process for those who thought they could be kings and queens. The fact that the Bangani people had submitted their case and the Nhapho Commission had rejected them, should be captured better.

Ms Maluleke suggested that this should be removed from the report.

Clause 3: Separation of Khoi-San   

The Chairperson suggested that a bill that dealt specifically with Khoi-San matters should be created separately from one that dealt with general traditional matters.

Mr Mthethwa said the bill made too many generalisations that were not true, and he enquired about their being more factual information.

Mr C Matsepe (DA) said that the paragraph mainly captured the issues raised -- issues which required consultation involving the entire process.

Mr R Cebekhulu (IFP) said the Committee should clarify the issue of separation. The government had accepted Khoi-San leaders as traditional leaders, so a separation would not be of much good. It would be of benefit to have one bill encompassing every leader.

Mr Matsepe responded that the separation was informed by the first national status claimed by the Khoi-San. The Khoi-San wanted to have a separate system, because their system was not the same as other traditional leaders.

Ms Maluleke said the Committee had misunderstood the bill. The issue was not a separate bill for Khoi-San leaders, but rather a bill that recognised them. She emphasised that first there needed to be recognition of Khoi-San leaders before bringing them into the mainstream. The Khoi-San were recognised by the Constitution, but their language was not.

The Chairperson asked how long the bill would take to process.

Mr K Mileham (DA) said the actual cost of funding for Khoi-San leaders was a concern. In 2010, President Zuma had said the izinDuna must be remunerated.

The Chaiperson said Mr Mileham had raised an important issue because the problem with izinDuna was complex because Chief Cebekhulu could have three izinDunas, while another chief could have ten.  One day, South Africa would have more izinDunas than councillors. In most of the public hearings, izinDunas had said they wanted the same remuneration as ward councillors and there should be a national benchmark for remuneration at the national level.

Mr Masondo asked whether the Committee could convey its feelings concerning what they would like to see in the report. The ways and means of ensuring this should be looked at.

Ms Maluleke once again enquired on why there needed to be a specific separate department for Khoi-San leaders.

Mr Mileham said that the report was not reporting the feelings of the Members of the Committee, but rather their feelings on the public hearing that had been held.

The Chairperson said that the report was not to be adopted, because it was merely a guideline that dealt with the community, clause by clause. The first clause he mentioned was the issue of the area of jurisdiction. Secondly, there was a branch issue and to deal with this, a “clan” should be considered instead. Thirdly, there needed to be better terms found for “headwoman” and “headman”. The chiefs wanted to be called amakhosi rather than traditional leaders, because they found the term quite undermining.

At this point, the Chairperson kept referring to Mr Sithole, a lawyer present in the meeting, to draft a bill that promoted social cohesion. He went on to raise an issue about committees, pointing out that there was only one chief and no deputy. Lastly, there was an issue with people opting in and out of their leadership roles. It was possible for people to have preference for a certain chief and deny the leadership of someone they did not approve of. What would be the implications of not taking a liking to a certain traditional leader be for the community?

Mr Matsepe said convincing traditional leaders that “flushing out” people who did not agree with them was wrong, and was a challenge for the government. People had a right to stay where they wanted to stay.

The Chairperson commented that the above points were just opinions, and that the Committee now needed to debate the points clause by clause. Emphasis was placed on the fact that the report was capturing the essence of the public hearings, and not what every single person was saying. The Committee was asked whether the guiding principles were fine, and confirmation was given. In terms of the land issue, any cut off before 1652 was exclusionary. It was important not to draft a bill that reinforced apartheid.

The Chairperson said that he was moving to part two of the issue, which could be found on page 12 of the Traditional and Khoi-San Leadership Bill. He said it would be very hard to trace the lineage of people who were disposed 400 years ago. The last bullet points on sections 7 and 14 were arguing that there be rationality in everything. Section 15 brought to light the issue of premiers being recognised as chiefs, and this was problematic. Proper demographics were needed in Khoi-San leadership, and this had been raised as an issue by the civil centre. Members were asked if there were any issues with page 10 of the bill, and none was raised.

The Chairperson proceeded to inform Members that there was Kenyan research on traditional leaders, and the history that existed should not be destroyed for the sake of replacing it. Traditional leaders should not be removed and replaced with inadequate people. He warned against progressive ideas that made South Africa look down on the role of chiefs. The Khoi-San should be protected because they had been disposed for 400 years and had had their culture hijacked from them. Khoi-San leaders felt that people wanted to hijack their traditional leadership system. They had lost their voice because people who were not Khoi-San seemed to know a lot more about the Khoi-San than the Khoi-San leaders themselves.

Mr Mileham interjected, pleading with the Chairperson to refrain from including his own personal views about the report.

The Chairperson responded that this was not what he was doing.

Mr Masondo said that the Chairperson should be protected.

Mr Mileham asked if the Chairperson could protect himself by focusing on the report, and not on his own views. Should the Chairperson continue sharing his own views, the Committee would be in the meeting for hours, to no avail.

The Chairperson explained that he was merely expressing people’s views. People came to a public hearing with the hope that their views would be expressed.

Mr Masondo told Mr Mileham that the reason why he was agitated with the Chairperson was because he had not been at the public hearing meeting.

Mr Mileham said that he had been at the meeting, and Mr Masondo had probably not seen him because he was sleeping throughout the meeting.

The Chairperson interrupted the conversation between the two Members, cautioning against conflict in meetings.

The Members now had to look at chapter 5 of the bill, by dealing with it clause by clause and expressing their individual views. The purpose of the report was focused on guiding issues, and the summary of the critical issues that had been raised. The public hearing report was all about expressing people’s views, and the Chairperson advised Members to watch the video on the report for further context.

Mr M Bara (DA) said that Members had outstanding written submissions and enquired whether these submissions had been included in the report. If the submissions were not included, Members should get the consolidated reports.

Mr Matsepe asked if there would be an opportunity for Members to validate the report.

Mr Mileham asked if the Department had responded to the public’s concerns. He told the Chairperson that during his analysis of the report, he had noted there had been a meeting with traditional leaders, and asked why the Committee did not know about this meeting.

The Chairperson replied that the meeting referred to had not been a formal meeting. 

Mr Mileham replied that the meeting could not then be taken as formal input.

The Chairperson asked Mr Sithole (the lawyer) when he would have a report ready on the report. The report should include the issues that people had raised, and the responses to these issues.

Mr Sithole said that the report was ready, and asked the Chairperson when he required it.

The Chairperson replied that the report would be needed in about two weeks.

Mr Mthethwa said that Members should be mindful about entertaining the views of all the groups and communities. If Members attempted to entertain all the views, they might miss out on issues raised by certain groups and be called out for this. Members should avoid being distracted by issues that were not the main points, because this might lead to two reports.

Mr Mileham interjected, saying this was not what he was asking for. He was asking for the Department’s views and opinions on the issues raised. It was important to include both sides of the story so that the report could be a balanced one.

The Chairperson said that the bill belonged to Parliament. The Department could make contributions, but it was a Parliamentary process. The Department had developed and proposed the bill, and now everything belonged to the Committee. Non-government organisations (NGOs) would play a very critical role in the hearings, and at the next meeting, minutes should be taken.

Members were asked if there was any other issue that they wanted to raise.

Mr Dube said that according to the report, some of the people of Emalahleni had been unable to attend the public hearing.

The Chairperson replied that there had been an issue with the transport. It had been impossible to collect people house by house. The problems had been the pick-up point, and not sticking to the time agreed on.

The meeting was adjourned. 

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