National House of Traditional Leaders; Municipal Infrastructure Investment Unit: budget briefing

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Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs

06 June 2004
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Meeting report

PROVINCIAL AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT AD HOC COMMITTEE
7 June 2004
NATIONAL HOUSE OF TRADITIONAL LEADERS; MUNICIPAL INFRASTRUCTURE INVESTMENT UNIT: BUDGET BRIEFING

Chairperson:
Mr Y Carrim (ANC)

Documents handed out:
National House of Traditional Leaders (NHTL) Annual Report: 2003/2004
Municipal Infrastructure Investment Unit (MIIU) presentation
Municipal Infrastructure Investment Unit (MIU) additional information

SUMMARY
The National House of Traditional Leaders briefed the Committee on its legislative mandate to enhance the role of traditional leadership in a democratic South Africa. The House set out some of the challenges that it faced with limited powers and resources. One challenge was to place staff in permanent positions rather than on the present contractual basis. NHTL worked under a committee system. One of its committees was the Traditions, Customs and Culture Committee and its goal was to restore, promote and protect indigenous cultures and traditions.

The Municipal Infrastructure Investment Unit briefed the Committee on its financial and project performance for 2003/2004. The Institution reflected on its strategic plan for 2004-2006 that included key performance areas such as staff skills development. MIIU said that it had to equip its staff to enter the job market when MIIU would close.

MINUTES

National House Of Traditional Leaders Presentation
Mr I Mzimela (Chairperson) thanked members for their opening remarks on the progress NHTL had made as portrayed in its Annual Report. He felt that there should be more regular interaction between the House and the Committee so that NHTL could receive guidance before an annual report was finalised.

The Chair said that the Report was more promising than the previous year's one and that he was looking forward to working with the House again.

Municipal Infrastructure Investment Unit Presentation
MIIU's delegation included Ms N Mjoli-Mncube (Board Representative), Ms K Mathebula (CEO) and Mr J Lesaoane (Financial Manager).

Ms Mjoli-Mncube apologised on behalf of MIIU's Chair who had to be overseas and could not attend the meeting.

Ms Mjoli-Mncube said that she had sad news that the CEO had resigned. However, a committee had already been established to recruit a new CEO.

The Chair said that it was worrying that CEOs were resigning as was also happening in other departments. Ms Mathebula said that her resignation had nothing to do with MIIU.

Ms Mathebula thanked the Department of Provincial and Local Government, its Director-General and the Committee for their support and good working relationship with MIIU.

The Chair thanked MIIU for their succinct presentation since time was limited.

Discussion

Mr B Solo (ANC) congratulated NHTL for their progress reflected in the presentation. He referred to the budget review and asked to what extent progress had been made within the legislative framework.

Mr Mzimela said with regard to the Traditional Leadership and Governance Framework Act (Act 41 of 2003) legislation could only be implemented once all provincial houses expressed their positions. It was tantamount that provincial departments related with traditional leaders to access the legislation and verify its validity. NHTL was committed to interact and include the opinions of the provincial houses in decision-making. The House had written to the provincial departments to inform them that its members would visit their areas to investigate the progress they had made on finalising the legislation.

Mr S Mushudulu (ANC) asked how the statistical report on employee compensation could be put in layman's terms to enable its beneficiaries and the public to draw a clear understanding of NHTL's key performance areas. He said the Committee represented Parliament and the public and that not only challenges, but also achievements should be represented in the NHTL's report so that the Committee could determine what had been achieved and what work still lay ahead for the coming year.

He also referred to the previous year's report and asked how committed the House was to develop its provisions since a broader legislative framework had now been finalised.

Mr Mzimela thanked Members for their positive response. He said that projects should be identified for all communities and they should be formulated together by the House, the Committee, the Department, government and local municipalities now that the relationships between those bodies had strengthened.

He said that achieving a key NHTL objective, i.e. building good relations with NGOs, government and the Department, was fundamental in the formulation of the improved legislation. A healthy atmosphere enriched with positive attitudes was the perfect space for amicable solutions. Mzimela said that he was happy that the Department recognised the NHTL as a separate body.

Mzimela said that the extra personnel had helped tremendously in improving work capacity and that the House was grateful to the Committee and the Department for providing them with employees.

A Committee Member asked what progress had been made with receiving funding for the position of a permanent chairperson for the House in Cape Town.

Mzimela said that progress had been made to ensure NHTL a chamber. He had spoken to the Provincial and Local Government Minister and he advised him to approach the Minister of Public Works. The matter was now between NHTL and the Department of Public Works. It was suggested that NHTL used one of the chambers in Parliament or find a place within the Department for the chamber and if a building was not found one could possibly be built.

Mr I Mfundisi (UCDP) asked what was meant by the phrase contained in Chapter Two of the Annual Report that the framework legislation would enable traditional leaders to be part of the decision-making processes to a lesser extent.

Mzimela stated that NHTL had not received the status warranted by national government and that when the Municipal Structures Act and the Constitution were amended the House would participate in discussion around socio-economic, developmental and political matters to a greater extent.

Mfundisi asked if other political parties would join in the interaction with NHTL. Mzimela had previously stated that good relationships were formed and have been maintained with the ANC and COSATU.

The Chair interjected and said that Mfundisi really wanted to know if the traditional leaders wanted to meet with UCDP members to which all members cheerfully agreed.

Mzimela said that NHTL had invited all political parties and NGO's but that the House could not force parties to join. He said that the UCDP owed NHTL a meeting whereas members of the ANC, ACDP, AZAPO and COSATU had already met with them. It was important that both government and non-governmental bodies supported NHTL's policy making.

Ms L Mashiane (ANC) referred to specific pages in the Annual Report where challenges were highlighted such as those pertaining to the Ghana Panafest Conference for Traditional Leaders. She said that the challenges were not supported by suggestions.

Mzimela said that suggestions had been made but that nothing had been finalised yet to present to the Committee.

The Chair said that it would be helpful if members could draw up specific questions before the Budget Vote meeting.
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Mr Mshudulu said that what he would like to see from the House was not only good relationships with government departments but participation in all structures. Maximising community participation with the objective of community development should be a priority.

Mr Solo said that traditional leaders had the role of assisting the democratic state by supporting and engaging in programmes in traditional games in communities. Traditional customs and values should be realised. He also asked who had paid for the visits to Ghana and to clarify whether two meetings had taken place.

Mzimela said that there were two visits; the first being a conference to which a delegation from NHTL was sent. The second was a ceremony in Ghana that was attended by himself, the deputy chair and an official.

A Committee Member asked what role the House played in ensuring that the rights of women and children are respected and that the communal rights of traditional leaders were not misinterpreted.

Mzimela said that the Communal Property Rights Act had been signed by the President but had not yet been implemented and that traditional leaders were invited to give their views on how the Act could be implemented. The Department of Land Affairs had to be commended because NHTL had been invited to all their meetings on the Communal Property Rights Act in which they had been actively involved.

Mzimela said that NHTL had reacted to criticism from the public and the Human Rights Commission (HRC) on the alleged abuse of the rights of children and women by traditional leaders. He asked the HRC to provide the House with a list of rights that had been violated by the Institution but they failed to provide one.

Mzimela said that rational discussions on matters such as the issue of succession should take place with HRC without emotions clouding the issue.

Mzimela said that a successful conference on initiation schools had been held and that traditional leaders were educating South Africans about initiation practices especially circumcision. The practice of circumcision had been "hijacked" by the media and made out to be as inhumane. There was nothing wrong with it and malpractice of the rite that had caused media hype should be dealt with so that the custom can remain pure.

Mzimela said that if gender equality were not addressed there would be criticism. Women were employed in the provincial Houses but attention had to be given to incorporate more women in the House which is presently male dominated.

Mzimela said that with regard to NHTL's relationship with municipalities, he had meant that the Constitution did not clearly identify the role of traditional leaders and that the Municipal Structures Act had to be amended to define the role of traditional leadership in local government. He said that traditional leaders should not just play a supportive but a participatory role in local government.

Mzimela said that NHTL, government and municipalities should co-operate as "no partner should be made weaker."

The Chair said that there had been significant progress from government in trying to meet NHTL's needs. He said that the Annual Report had improved and he was happy to see that the House had used its limited powers correctly. He said that if the House wanted greater power, it should realise that that meant greater responsibility.

Mr Carrim alluded to the core objective highlighted in the President's State of the Nation Address of increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of service delivery in South Africa. He said that when the House met with the Committee in the second half of the year (August/October) a progress report should be delivered with clear indications on performance indicators around the issues of poverty, disability, the status of women and children. He said that "if you deliver more, you get more" in relation to the House's request for more power and resources.

The Chair said that the Department should help the House with developing a strategic plan that included clearer details on key performance areas and goals.

Mr Carrim said that he recognised the problem of NHTL not having a chamber and that the House's views would be taken to the new Speaker of Parliament. He said the Committee did not have the mandate to make decisions on behalf of the government but that he thought that some input should be made. Instead of erecting another building, a chamber in Parliament could be used for NHTL sittings.

The Chair wanted clarity on the specific issues raised by Members about the House's Budget and Mr C Clerihew (Chief Financial Officer) took the floor.

He said that the House's objective was to align rands and cents to outputs. The House had a committee system where individual committees developed strategic plans. Each committee was therefore responsible for a programme and had to have its own funds.

The Chair said that he was not only addressing the House but all statutory bodies when he said that in the following year he would want to know how the House had succeeded with its limited capacity in alleviating poverty, unemployment and housing shortages. It was vital that active participation rather than developing more strategies on paper took effect.

Mzimela said that as long as the House was not given permanent status, it could not perform its statutory functions to their fullest extent.

Mr Carrim said that questions left unanswered should be taken into consideration by the House and be answered in their next meeting.

A Committee Member asked if the House could elaborate on their HIV/AIDS programme.

Another Committee member asked if there was a strategic plan to ensure that the private sector took the objective of increasing service delivery seriously.

The Chair said that he was looking forward to working with the House again.

The Chair gave the Department's DG a chance to respond to the Report and she said that the Department had recognised the House. It had assisted by appointing a CEO to the House and providing technical staff and would continue to help where possible.

The MIIU presentation was cut short because of time constraints.

The Chair asked Members to pose questions to the Unit that could be answered at a future meeting.

Questions that were raised by the Committee focussed on project performance and how the total funds awarded for those projects in each province were allocated.

The meeting was adjourned.

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