National House of Traditional Leaders Annual Report 2006/7: briefing

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Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs

23 October 2007
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Meeting Summary

A summary of this committee meeting is not yet available.

Meeting report


23 October 2007

Mr S Tsenoli (ANC)

Documents handed out:
National House of Traditional Leaders Annual Report 2006/7
National House of Traditional Leaders presentation

Audio recording of meeting

The Committee was briefed by the National House of Traditional Leaders (NHTL) on its Annual Report 2006/7. The NHTL provided insight into its strategic focus areas and its goals. A great deal of discussion took place on a variety of issues, including some of the challenges faced by the NHTL in terms of its budget, resources, staff complement and infrastructural shortcomings. The Committee seemed a bit disappointed by the lack of detail provided on the activities and programs of the NHTL, and requested a detailed report on those issues. The NHTL made the point that the issue of powers and functions of traditional leaders still remained unresolved and were of the view that the institution had no teeth, despite its constitutional mandate..

National House of Traditional Leaders (NHTL) presentation
The NHTL briefed the Committee on its Annual Report 2006/7. The delegation comprised of Kgosi F Kutama: Chairperson, Mr A Sithole: Secretary and CEO, Inkosi M Mzimela, Nkosikazi N Mhlauli, Kgosigadi A Moroka, Inkosi V Nhlapo, Mr Sam Khandlhela: Senior Manager and Mr Samual Mafaidi: Manager of Parliamentary Services. Mr Mbulelo Sigaba, Acting CFO: Department of Provincial and Local Government (the Department), also attended the briefing.

Kgosi Kutama initiated the briefing with a brief overview of the strategic focus areas of the NHTL. The first strategic focus was to have linkages between national houses and provincial houses. There was a need for traditional leaders to move together in one direction. Key to achieving the aforementioned objective was the establishment of the NHTL Forums. The forums laid the platform for the alignment of activities between the national and provincial houses. The second strategic focus was to work closer with the Presidency and the Ministries. The President had opened the NHTL annual conference and for the first time ever the NHTL had enjoyed a sitting with the Cabinet to discuss the role and functions of traditional leaders. The third strategic focus was building partnerships to capacitate traditional leaders. The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) together with the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development had trained traditional leaders on gender based violence and the consequences thereof. Training on poverty alleviation measures had also taken place. The fourth strategic focus had been on strengthening the relationship between traditional leaders and royalty throughout African states, especially those in the SADC region. The idea was to form a continental body of traditional leaders. The final and fifth strategic focus was the preservation of indigenous languages. The NHTL had attended various functions with the view of promoting the use of indigenous languages. Even the President had been challenged to use indigenous languages in his addresses.

The biggest challenge to the NHTL was guaranteeing the powers of traditional leaders and the way to do this was the amendment of the Constitution. There was a strong belief that the functions and powers of traditional leaders needed to be consolidated.

Mr Sithole continued with the briefing itself and elaborated upon the goals of the NHTL. In many instances the goals of the NHTL tied in with its strategic focus areas. The first goal was the advancement of service delivery and one of the ways to achieve this was the alignment of strategic plans of the Houses. The problem was that many of the Houses remained under-resourced under-staffed. The NHTL itself did not have a formal organizational structure.
The second goal for the NHTL was to be the custodian of cultures, customs and tradition. The NHTL had therefore participated in a number of policy discussions with government on the issue. It had also realized the need to partner with other organizations in order to achieve the goal. The third goal identified was pro-active communication. It referred to communicating within and outside the institution of traditional leaders. The NHTL had attended a number of conferences to give effect to the goal. The fourth and final goal was to address the issue of capacity of the NHTL and the institution of traditional leadership. Infrastructural challenges, capacity building, relations with local government, budget and the lack of co-ordination within government on traditional leadership issues were identified as stumbling blocks. He concluded that the NHTL was aware that it had not reached its apex on performance as yet, but was heading in the right direction.

Mr Tsenoli referred to the NHTL’s budget and asked for detail on it.

Mr Sithole responded that he had not intended to speak on the figures relating to the budget of the NHTL. It was however felt that the budget of the NHTL was wholly inadequate. The budgetary allocations had not taken into consideration the impact that the Intergovernmental Relations Framework Act of 2005 (the Framework Act) and the Disaster Management Act would have on the NHTL activities. He was concerned about the Medium Term Expenditure Framework MTEF as it currently stood. It was felt that the budgetary constraints stifled what work the NHTL could do. For the House to perform optimally, funds were needed. The current budget stood at R8,5 million. Mr Sithole noted that the NHTL could do with an additional R8 million.

Kgosi Kutama reiterated the concerns raised by Mr Sithole. The NHTL had no say on the amounts allocated to the budget of the NHTL. The NHTL asked the Committee to note the fact that it wished to be part of the discussions affecting its budget.

Mr Tsenoli said that the Committee needed evidence that the lack of budget was the NHTL’s principle concern. The presentation delivered had had not identified it as the most important concern of the NHTL.

Mr P Smith (IFP) asked what the advocacy role of the NHTL was in strengthening the role of traditional leadership. He also asked what the role the NHTL was playing in resolving the Khoisan issue. Furthermore, it seemed that the NHTL’s budget had been reduced and asked for an explanation. He additionally asked how the provincial houses were capacitated and which ones had budgets. It was also asked which traditional councils had not yet been established.

Kgosi Kutama responded that the relationship with government was a good one and that it was being strengthened. Engagements with the Office of the President and the Deputy-President were taking place. The Khoisan issue was referred to the Department for comment. 
Mr Sithole said that the issue of the functions of traditional leaders was a serious one. Serious engagement on the issue was needed. The Framework Act also needed to be implemented.
He was not able to comment on why the budget of the NHTL had been reduced. An answer could maybe be forwarded to the Committee at a later time.

Mr Sithole also agreed to furnish the Committee with a detailed report on how the six provincial houses had been capacitated.

Mr S Mshudulu (ANC) pointed out that the Department of Housing owed the Committee a report on itd current state of affairs was. He proposed that the Department and the NHTL identify extracts from various pieces of legislation that impacted upon the NHTL. He suggested that the NHTL be given a three month period within which to furnish the Committee with a detailed report on all its activities. It was also asked when the Committee was to undertake a study tour with the NHTL to the provinces. He furthermore asked what informed the budgetary allocations to the NHTL.

Kgosi Kutama replied that the request to take members along on NHTL tours to the provinces was noted.

Mr Sithole agreed to interact with the Department on compiling extracts from various pieces of legislation that affect the NHTL.

Mr Mshudulu said that the issue was about linking the NHTL’s mandate within the legislative framework to its function, with due regard to its budget. The question was whether the NHTL had sufficient capacity or not. In any institutional arrangement uniformity was required.

The Chair felt that uniformity could sometimes be dangerous and the cost implications could be huge.

Mr Sithole responded that the NHTL did try to link its budget with its strategic goals, but it was yet to be achieved. The NHTL was working towards aligning the two.

Mr Mshudulu asked whether National Treasury could not assist in the exercise.

Mr Tsenoli said that the Department could offer assistance to the NHTL and interact with National Treasury.

Mr M Swathe (DA) referred to the NHTL interaction with different spheres of government and asked what interaction had there been with ward committees. He also asked whether responses had been received from Cabinet on the challenges that were being faced by the NHTL.

Kgosi Kutama responded that national, provincial and local houses had not been aware of the existence of ward committees. He said that the Department had been asked to educate the various houses on the issue. He conceded that he had first read up on ward committees from a booklet that had been distributed by the media.

Mr Sithole conceded that much had been said about national and provincial interaction but not about relationships with municipalities. He noted that local government interaction differed from province to province. The NHTL’s relationship with the South African Local Government Association (SALGA) attempted to improve relations. The Department was addressing the issue of Cabinet’s response to challenges faced by the NHTL.
Mr M Nonkonyana (ANC) asked why the NHTL had no formal organizational structure when it had been in existence for the past ten years. He also asked which three provinces had established local houses on traditional leadership. Furthermore, he asked how many traditional councils there were in South Africa and how they worked with ward committees. He asked what the role of the NHTL was on Integrated Development Plans (IDPs).

Mr Sithole replied that the Department had been asked to prepare an organizational structure for the NHTL, which has not yet been completed. However the NHTL had received an undertaking from the Department that it would be completed in the near future.

KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga and the North West provinces had established local houses on traditional leadership. He would furnish figures on traditional councils in a report to the Committee at a later time.

Mr Smith said that if the NHTL had its own budget and programmes it should prepare its own organogram.

Mr Tsenoli felt that the mainstreaming of traditional languages was an important issue. He suggested that the NHTL approach businesses and Chambers of Commerce about mainstreaming the use of traditional languages. The Chair asked whether the NHTL was working around issues of sustainable development in areas of jurisdiction of traditional leaders. Furthermore, he asked whether the Department of Public Works had been approached about the infrastructural needs of the NHTL.

Mr B Solo (ANC) agreed that there were many buildings that could be utilized by the NHTL.

Mr Sithole responded that work on mainstreaming traditional languages had been done, mostly by government. The private sector was yet to be tackled.

Kgosi Kutama added that the President had stated that a chamber for the NHTL would be provided for in the newly=built parliamentary building. Infrastructural needs of traditional councils at ground level was the issue. The NHTL also still did not have funding for accommodation and traveling expenses, even though the Department had been informed of the fact some time back.
The Department was dealing with the issue of accommodation for the NHTL, and a response was expected shortly.

He was of the view that many of the questions posed by Members were not questions per se but were rather advice regarding the institution of traditional leadership. The advice was heeded and the issues raised would be addressed.  

Nkosi Mzimela noted that the NHTL had been interacting with the Committee for the last ten years. He asked at what stage was the Committee going to assist the NHTL. He stressed that the infrastructure problem was an old one, and he Committee was better resourced, capacitated and positioned to assist with the matter.

Mr Solo responded in his mother tongue. The gist of his input was that the accommodation and traveling expense issue needed to be sorted out once and for all. He suggested that the Committee ask the Department to sort out the issue.

Mr M Likotsi (PAC) said that the Committee needed to be guided in terms of what the NHTL needed the Committee to do. The ordinary man was unaware of the ‘ins and outs’ of being royalty, traditional leaders seemed to be almost apologetic. If the new South Africa was not meeting the needs of the NHTL, the Committee had to be informed. More robust interactions with the Committee was what was needed.

Mr Smith endorsed fully what Mr Likotsi had said. The Committee needed to be given a breakdown of the NHTL’s budget expenditure per programme. He asked whether the NHTL had autonomy over its spending. He referred to earlier comments that the relationship with local government was improving because of the interactions with SALGA, and asked whether there was not a need for a measure of conflict to exist with SALGA in order for the NHTL to achieve its core goals.

Mr Mshudulu reiterated that a progress report was needed from the NHTL.

Nkosi Mzimela said that the relationship between Parliament and the NHTL had not always been amicable. Much of the hard work had been done in the past, which is why the situation was it was today.

Mr Nonkonyana said that the Committee needed to be updated on the issue of kings and headmen, on the land affairs court case and the remuneration of traditional leaders.

Mr Smith suggested that all outstanding issues be included in a report to the Committee.

Nkosi Mzimela said that the NHTL might well seem apologetic because it had no teeth. The Constitution recognized the Institution, but in reality it had no powers. The fact of the matter was that traditional leaders were still seen as the opposition. The issue on what informs the Department’s budget to the NHTL was a matter that needed discussion.

Kgosigadi Moroka agreed that in the past traditional leaders had been at loggerheads with Parliament but the process had advanced to such an extent that discussions could now take place in a more amicable manner.

Nkosikazi Mhlauli supported the Committee’s request for reports from the provinces as it would shed some light on the problems being faced.

The Deputy Chairperson of the NHTL said that the engagement with the Committee was a step in the right direction.

Kgosi Kutama referred to the issue of kings and stated that the aim was to establish a king’s forum. A link between the NHTL and the kings would also have to be established.

Ms P Bhengu (ANC) thanked the NHTL for the briefing and the meeting was adjourned.


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