National Programme of Support for Institution of Traditional Leadership: briefing

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Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs

15 May 2007
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Meeting Summary

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Meeting report


15 May 2007
Chairperson: Mr S Tsenoli (ANC)

Relevant documents:

National Programme of Support for Institution of Traditional Leadership Presentation
Committee Programme

Audio Recording of the Meeting

The Committee was briefed on the progress made in the development and implementation of the Traditional Leadership and Governance Act of 2003 and provincial legislation on traditional leadership as well as the National Programme of Support for the Institution of Traditional Leadership and the Inter-Departmental Committee on Allocation of Roles of Traditional Leadership.

A great deal of discussion ensued over the progress by the provinces on issues of traditional leadership. The Committee was intrigued by the fact that a separate department on traditional leadership was to be formed due to the complexities involved. Funding of said department and of the programme itself were issues of key interest.

The delegation comprised of Prof Mkhululi Sobahle (Chief Director of Traditional Leadership and Institutional Development), Mr N Mpungose (Director of Policy and Institutional Development) and Ms V Moleka (Deputy Director of Policy and Institutional Development).

National Programme of Support for the Institution of Traditional Leadership
Prof Sobahle briefed the Committee on the National Programme of Support for the Institution of Traditional Leadership which was government’s response in terms of what it perceived the role of traditional leadership to be in meeting the challenges of service delivery and development of rural communities. He commenced with a brief background of the legislation that formed the context within which the programme was conceptualised. This was the Traditional Leadership and Governance Act of 2003 as well as provincial legislation on traditional leadership. The implementation of this legislation was in various stages in the provinces. The department hoped with the help of stakeholders to present the programme for adoption to Cabinet within 2007.

Prof Sobahle pointed out that the programme had four strategic priorities:
•  To support the institution of traditional leadership to improve governance, performance and accountability. •  To build capacity to the institution of traditional leadership to promote and enhance the involvement of the structures within the institution in the development processes of their communities.
•  Reviewing and strengthening of the policy and regulatory framework in order to give greater attention and support to the institution of traditional leadership in respect of the implementation measures and processes.
•  Addressing the structure and governance arrangements of the state in order to better strengthen, support and monitor the traditional leadership institution.

Prof Sobahle continued with an overview of the role that other government departments and the role that provinces played in supporting the institution of traditional leadership. Justice and Constitutional Development, Land Affairs, Public Works, Health and Housing were just a few departments mentioned that were actively involved in the process. The allocation of resources to departments involved was identified as a necessity. The main role of provinces was to recognise, establish and support the structures within the institution. The only problem was that infrastructure and capacity was often lacking in the provinces. Nevertheless provinces were making progress on the implementation of legislation. They were also in various stages of reconstituting traditional councils, and establishing Local Houses etc.

Prof Sobahle gave the committee a breakdown of progress made from province to province. He did emphasise that provinces were in dire need of institutional and financial support. Some early deliverables were identified, as capacity building to the institution was one of the most critical areas of support. To this end co-operation between national, provincial and local was needed.

Prof Sobahle said that the President had announced that a support programme was being developed to cover key areas of support to the traditional leadership institution and that government was considering establishing a national department for Traditional Leadership.

The committee was also given a brief breakdown of the consultation and finalisation process on the programme up until May 2007.

Inter-Departmental Committee on Allocation of Roles and Functions to Traditional Leadership
Prof Sobahle continued with an explanation of this Inter-departmental Committee. Sections 19 and 20 of the Framework Act identified government departments that would be able to assign roles and functions to traditional leadership structures. He proceeded to go through an extensive list. Arts and Culture, Safety and Security, Home Affairs and Foreign Affairs were amongst those mentioned. Interaction with departments had taken place but a workshop with Ministers was now needed in order to inform them on what was expected from each Ministry.

In conclusion the Department recommended that the Committee discuss, note and support the development of the programme as well as the establishment of the Inter-Departmental Committee on the allocation of roles and functions to traditional leaders and traditional councils.

Mr P Smith (IFP) asked whether the formation of a separate department for Traditional Leadership had been agreed to. To what extent had the programme emanated from consultations with traditional leaders? Was it a joint effort between the department and traditional leaders? Mr Smith said that from a budgetary perspective in principle, funds needed to be made available at provincial level if adequate support was to be given to traditional leadership structures. He asked how it was to happen.  

Prof Sobahle replied that the separate department for traditional leadership would become a reality as it had been sanctioned by a presidential announcement. He noted that the necessary documentation had already been drafted and that a memo had been sent to Cabinet in May 2007. It was thus a certainty and the Department was preparing to enter into consultations with the DPSA and Treasury. He said consultation had taken place. The Department had in 2006 made a joint presentation to Cabinet, DPLG and the National House of Traditional Leaders. Presentations were also made to traditional leaders in the provinces.
The department was well aware of the fact that provinces would have to be allocated additional funding from National Treasury via the department in order to meet its responsibilities of implementing the programme.

Mr S Mashudulu (ANC) said that it was evident from the briefing that there was progress in implementation in the provinces. He was however concerned that no deadlines had been set for provinces. There was a need to monitor progress. He suggested that the Committee visit provinces to monitor the pace of progress. He remarked that the Committee should follow up on the Khoisan issue in lieu of its policy being finalised. It was suggested that perhaps timeframes needed to be set for the finalisation of the Khoisan policy. He referred to the progress made by provinces, specifically the planned reconstitution of traditional councils in the Free State by April 2007 and asked whether it had actually been done. He also referred to the issue of succession and stated that the Departments of Labour and Education should be involved.

Prof Sobahle agreed that the process should have deadlines. He noted that deadlines had been set for provinces but that provinces inevitably faced great challenges, which made it difficult to meet deadlines. The challenges were often of an institutional or political nature. He said that the committee should visit provinces in order to see first hand what challenges were being faced. The new deadline for provinces to complete the reconstitution of traditional councils and the forming of local houses was the end of 2007.

He said that the finalisation of the Khoisan policy had been a nightmare for the department. His principals were at present considering the policy. The Department was anxious that the process on the Khoisan policy should be taken forward. The reconstitution of traditional councils in the Free State had not been completed by April 2007 and it was hoped that it would be done by November or December 2007. Prof Sobahle remarked that the list of departments involved on traditional leadership was not an exhaustitive list. He agreed that the Department of Education was a vital participant on the issue of succession.  

Mr M Swathe (DA) asked how far the formation of a separate department for traditional leadership was.  

Mr M Nonkonyana (ANC) noted that in 2003 legislation on traditional leadership had been passed and he was glad that the Department had concrete steps in place on what it intended to do. He asked for an indication of the budget that had been provided for the formation of a separate traditional leadership department. He referred to the support that was intended to be given to kings and queens and asked how far the policy on it was. Also how far was the process on claims and counterclaims.

Mr Nonkonyama then referred to the role of government departments on traditional leadership and asked if the Department thought it correct for the Department of Health to deal with initiation schools. He felt that initiation schools were a cultural issue having health implications. It also had education implications. In certain provinces, initiation schools were under the control of the Department of Health, whereas in others they were under the control of the Premier. He asked for much greater detail on the progress made by the provinces. What were the cost implications of the programme and was the formation of a separate department for traditional leadership already agreed upon?

Prof Sobahle stated that funding for the separate department for traditional leadership had not been considered yet. Once approval from Cabinet was obtained budgetary issues would be discussed with National Treasury. The Department had recently finalised the rules and regulations on the issue of kings and queens. The Department was in the process of discussing the issue with the Presidency. After the discussion the process would be well under way. A report was due to the Department at the end of June 2007 looking at the legitimacy of existing kingships, their incumbents and new claims on kingships. He pointed out that legislation on initiation schools fell within the ambit of the Department of Health and not the Department of Education. A budget for the programme had not yet been set. Mr Mpungose added that by the time the programme had been approved by Cabinet, the full financial implications would be known. 

Mr I Mogase (ANC) asked the Department to elaborate on the progress made by the provinces.

The Chair asked what was being done on enhancing research and development on traditional leadership issues. It was also asked what the role of the Department had been in relation to the representations that the House of Traditional Leaders had made in Africa. The Chair also asked how the Department monitored relationships between traditional leaders both national and provincial and the communities they served.  

Prof Sobahle referred to indigenous knowledge systems and said that the Department of Arts and Culture together with the House of Traditional Leaders were creating packages on it. The Department also partnered with the House of Traditional Leaders to work on the issue. Workshops had been offered to further educate on the issue. The Department had worked with the House on the representations that had been made outside SA. A joint committee had been formed which had led to the formation of a Southern African Development Community (SADC) House. The idea was thereafter to form a Continental House as well. It was an issue of governance and accountability. The new legislation sought to transform the institution of traditional leadership and to ensure accountability to communities. Some communities had complained to the Department that traditional leaders were charging them levies.

Mr M Lekgoro (ANC) said that traditional leaders had been concerned about their autonomy, especially since funding was provided through the Department.

Prof Sobahle stated that the Minister had set up a task team comprising of both the Department and members of the House of Traditional Leaders. The idea was thus to align old legislation which formed the House of Traditional Leaders with that of the new Framework Act of 2003. The Department had compiled a report in November 2006, which looked at possibly amending the old legislation to bring it in line with the new legislation.

Mr Nonkonyana asked why the Khoisan could not be part of the traditional leadership system. He however appreciated the fact that the Khoisan had a system of governance peculiar to themselves. The Khoisan should provide reasons as to why they should not form part of the traditional leadership system. He referred to the issue of kingships and said that it was more complex than what it seemed. There were many forms of leaderships that needed to considered, that is, traditional leaders, senior traditional leaders and headmen

The Chair said that the issue was how to manage the diversity of customs under the rubric of co-operative governance. He emphasised that urgency was needed to deal with challenges that were being faced.

The committee programme was adopted as amended. The committee agreed to deal with its annual report in its next meeting.

The meeting was adjourned. 


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