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LOCAL GOVERNMENT AND ADMINISTRATION SELECT COMMITTEE
14 June 2004
NATIONAL HOUSE OF TRADITIONAL LEADERS: ANNUAL REPORT
Chairperson: Mr S Shiceka (ANC)
Documents Handed out:
NHTL Annual Report 2003/2004
Input by Chairperson
The National House of Traditional Leaders (NHTL) briefed the Committee on its Annual Report for 2003/04 and outlined its strategic goals for 2004/05. The Report spoke about the House's commitment to developing and implementing poverty alleviation, employment and HIV/AIDS programmes. The challenges that the House faced were amongst others the need for a chamber for sittings so that it could fulfil its mandate. Secondly, although the House still needed the support of the Department of Provincial and Local Government, it was important that it be delinked from the department and became an independent statutory body or a body under the Presidency.
Questions raised by the Committee focussed on the structure of the NHTL and its relationship with local government and municipalities.
The delegation included Mr I Mzimela, Chairperson, Mr K Mathebe, Mr P Kutama, Mr Z Makaula, Executive Committee Members, Mr C Ngone, Internal Arrangements Committee, Mr M Gobe, CEO and Mr S Nkosi, Communication Officer.
Mr Mzimela stressed that traditional leaders should be politically involved. They should have a designated role in government that would enable them to be directly involved in decision-making around social, economic and political development (see Input by Chairperson).
Mr Mzimela noted that NHTL consisted of eighteen staff members. The six provinces that were on board were each represented by three members. Those provinces were Kwazulu-Natal, Mpumulanga, Limpopo, Free State, Eastern Cape and North West.
NHTL's present budget was R6 million but it should be increased because the body was understaffed and the CEO was working as a Deputy Director when he should be serving at Chief Director level. The three female staff members were temporary and should be given permanent posts. These issues had financial implications and the budget was not large enough to meet the objectives.
The Chair asked if the House had a vision and a programme of action with which they would want to proceed.
Mr Mzimela explained that the NHTL's vision was to provide efficient leadership and service delivery to the public. The House had first to correct the injustices relating to the negative image of the traditional leaders caused by colonisation. People who had stopped believing in their cultural rites and traditions had to be decolonised so they could appreciate and flourish in their traditional and cultural heritage.
The Chair asked if where NHTL would want its chamber to be located, Cape Town or Pretoria.
Mr Mzimela said that the House dealt with all departments and should not be structured under the authority of the Department of Provincial and Local Government. Instead, the NHTL should be under the auspices of the Office of the Presidency. He said that they would prefer the chamber to be in Cape Town, as it was the legislative capital. The NHTL was a statutory body since 1997 and had many legal matters to which had to attend. He added that the House owed the community a conference on traditional leading and traditional healing. There was a distorted view of traditional leaders that had to be addressed so that a more positive view of traditional leadership could be obtained.
The Chair found the House's presentation to be very promising. He noted that this meeting was an introductory one and that more interactions between the Committee and the House should take place. It was important that the NHTL and the Committee got to know each other well because their relationship would span the next five years.
Mr Z Ntuli (ANC) asked for a description of NHTL's structure and what relationship it shared with government.
Mr Mzimela said that the NHTL was divided into provincial houses and further subdivided into district houses. District houses were closer to the communities of specific areas, which would help with accessing and dealing with municipal problems.
Mr A Moseki (ANC) complimented the House on the progress they had made as a statutory body. He asked if any traditional projects would be launched. He asked for clarification on the Justice College project and when it had commenced.
Mr C Ngone (NHTL) replied that the project had started in 2003 and that it was a training programme focussed on teaching the staff of the NHTL and its provincial houses on issues such as gender equity and human rights for all individuals.
Mr B Mkhaliphi (ANC) congratulated the NHTL for its presentation. He asked about the progress made in the Framework Legislation (Act 41 2003) and the extent of participation with national leaders and local administration.
Mr Ngone said that the process of incorporating the new legislation into the present legislation of the provincial departments was very slow. KwaZulu Natal and the Eastern Cape had thus far only been successful.
Mr Mzimela said that Chapter 7 of the Constitution on Local Government that included the status and developmental duties of municipalities was silent on the role of the House in local government. There should be an amendment to the Act that identified the NHTL's participatory role in municipal areas.
Mr Moseki asked if the House had established a Code of Conduct.
Mr Mzimela said that a special Code of Conduct had not been developed. However, as established by South African law there would be no corrupt practices as no one was above the law.
The Chair said that the House should advocate to the Committee its position as traditional leaders with their objectives and goals for South Africa because it was their first direct interaction with each other. The NHTL should set the stage for discussion.
Mr Mzimela said that the Chair had alluded to the same point made by the Deputy President that the House should have a clear programme of action. Conditions were conducive to establish an adequate programme and the House was working on one. However the House was only a custodian and that it was the responsibility of the nation to actively participate in projects built around social and economic stability.
The Chair said that the Committee also correlated with the Justice Department. Mr Mzimela made an appeal to the Committee to ask the Department of Justice to recognise the Customary Marriage of traditional cultures. Registering civil marriages was simple but when it came to registering the second or third wife of the husband in customary marriages, it was expensive. Registration could only be done through an advocate in the Supreme Court.
The Chair said he was happy to have met with the NHTL. The House should be patient with the Committee as they consisted of new members. The Chair noted that he was a traditional person at heart and would want to meet with the House on other occasions to work together on issues.
Mr Mzimela thanked the Committee for providing the House with the opportunity to speak. He said that it would be valuable to interact with the Committee from time to time.
The meeting was adjourned.