Remarks by the Deputy Minister of Provincial and Local Government, Honourable N Hangana, on the occasion of the second reading of the National House of Traditional Leaders Bill, No 56 Of 2008 and the Traditional Leadership and Governance Amendment Bill No 57 of 2008
Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Provincial and Local Government
Members of the Portfolio Committee on Provincial and Local Government
Chairperson and members of the National House of Traditional Leaders
Members of parliament
Ladies and gentlemen.
It gives me great pleasure to address this house after our last interaction when we presented the budget vote of the Department of Provincial and Local Government. We are meeting today to debate the National House of Traditional Leaders Bill No 56 of 2008 and Traditional Leadership and Governance Framework Amendment Bill No 57 of 2008.
I would like to thank the national house of traditional leaders, the provincial houses of traditional leaders, all the organs of civil society and the general public for the contributions made during the process of finalising the two bills we are presenting today. Their contributions have indeed enriched and shaped the final product being presented today.
Our government believes that governance based on traditional leadership institutions is in fact the backdrop of democracy in Africa in general and in a democratic South Africa in particular. In this regard, we have put a constitutional and legal framework that ensures that traditional leadership functions in a manner that embraces democracy and contributes to the entrenchment of a democratic culture thus enhancing its own status and standing among the people.
The implementation of the new legal framework on traditional leadership in the last 14 years has seen the evolution of the institution, promotion of gender representation, democratisation of the structures of traditional leadership and the improved involvement of traditional leadership in development and service delivery. In all these endeavours, government has been working with traditional leaders.
During the long drawn period of negotiations for a democratic South Africa, the African National Congress fought hard and long for the inclusion of Chapter 12 in the Constitution, thereby giving constitutional recognition to the institution of traditional leadership. This process was driven by a number of objectives, including the following
* to pay tribute to the role the institution played in the formation of the ANC as a revolutionary movement fighting for the rights of the oppressed masses of our people and
* to acknowledge that the institution has a critical role to play in the new dispensation, especially with respect to rural communities.
To this effect madam speaker, you will recall that Cabinet approved the White Paper on Traditional Leadership and Governance in 2003. The Traditional Leadership and Governance Framework Act was subsequently enacted in the same year. Provinces followed suit with the complementary provincial legislation.
The implementation of these pieces of legislation in the last three years has revealed a need for further refinement of the legislative framework to further deepen and improve the role of the institution in service delivery and development within traditional communities.
The National House of Traditional Leaders Bill No 56 Of 2008
Chapter 12 of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996 provides that national and provincial legislation must provide for the establishment of houses of traditional leaders. Since 1994, the national house of traditional leaders and provincial houses of traditional leaders have been established through the relevant national and provincial legislation.
The National Council of Traditional Leaders Act, was passed in 1994, in line with the 1993 interim Constitution. This act was repealed in 1997 and replaced by the Council of Traditional Leaders Act in 1997. The 1997 act was further amended through the Council of Traditional Leaders Amendment Act of 1998 and again through the National House of Traditional Leaders Amendment Act, in 2000.
In an attempt to improve the functionality and broaden the scope of the work for the national house, the bill before us today provides for the following key issues in line with the Constitution, the White Paper and the Framework Act
* The continued existence of the National House of Traditional Leaders with added responsibilities.
* The composition of the National House to be representative of all provinces including the provinces that have recently acquired traditional communities after the re determination of provincial boundaries.
* To streamline the process of electing members of the National House in the provinces.
* To determine powers and duties of the national house in line with the White Paper on Traditional Leadership and Governance.
* To enhance the effective functioning, management and administration of the National House.
* To make provision for support to the House by government in respect of administration, finances, capacity building and resources.
* To make provision for the relationship between the National House and the Provincial houses.
* To make provision for the relationship between the National House and kings and queens, and
* To make provision for the relationship between the national house and government.
Madam speaker, it is therefore clear that the bill provides for the continued existence of the national house of traditional leaders with added responsibilities which will enable it to function more effectively. It will also offer the house an opportunity to develop into a stronger organisation, working in partnership with other structures of traditional leadership, which will continue with its important and primary task of promoting the interests of traditional communities in our country.
Indeed, we have seen the house develop to what it is today. The finalisation of this bill thus marks another important milestone for the house. Government stands ready to work with the house in a co-operative spirit for the betterment of the lives of traditional communities.
The Traditional Leadership and Governance Framework Amendment Bill No 57 of 2008
The Traditional Leadership and Governance Framework Act No 41 of 2003 was passed in December 2003 and came into operation in September 2004. The implementation of the act at national and provincial spheres has necessitated that certain improvements be effected to the act.
The bill therefore provides for the following amendments:
* Recognition of kingships or queenships and the withdrawal of such recognition.
* Disestablishment of paramountcies and the withdrawal of recognition of paramount chiefs.
* Establishment of kingship or queenship councils and the determination of their functions.
* The determination of the membership of traditional councils and kingship or queenship councils by premiers and the minister respectively in line with provincial peculiarities.
* Establishment of a traditional sub council where the area of jurisdiction of a traditional community occupies two or more geographical areas apart from each other.
* Extension of the original one year to five years the period within which the traditional authorities must be transformed in line with the act and
* Alignment of the terms of office of all the structures within the institution of traditional leadership with the term of office of the national house of traditional leaders.
Madam speaker, these amendments therefore are intended to ensure that all the structures within the institution are established and that the institution functions more effectively. It is hoped that this endeavour by government will help restore the dignity of the institution and enable it to play its role in service delivery and development in partnership with government.
The bill, once passed, will further enable traditional leaders to constitute part of the cadre of leadership that is leading in transforming South Africa towards a better life for all. In addition to the two bills, government is committed to working and supporting the institution of traditional leadership as is demonstrated through the development of the government wide National Programme of Support for Traditional Leadership, the establishment of a dedicated National Department for Traditional Leadership and other initiatives.
Madam speaker, I would like to emphasise that it is the vision of government therefore to continue to transform and support the institution of traditional leadership in accordance with the constitutional principles of democracy and equality, and that it may play its meaningful role in the development and service delivery to the rural communities of our country.
In closing, Madam speaker, I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the members of the portfolio committee for the efficient manner in which they dealt with these two bills.
I thank you