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Traditional Affairs Completes Work on New Draft Legislation

September 23, 2013

Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (CoGTA)

During a presentation on a strategic plan for 2011 to 2014 circulated at a recent parliamentary portfolio committee meeting, representatives of the newly established department of traditional affairs told members that the Traditional Affairs Bill would be presented to cabinet in June 2011 before being tabled in Parliament the following month.

The proposed bill will seek to combine National House of Traditional Leaders Act 22 of 2009 and Traditional Leadership and Governance Framework Act 41 of 2003 into a single statute that will also incorporate the leadership and community structures of the Khoi-San people.

The strategic plan also referred to work already underway on several proposed policy and legislative interventions.

These include:

· a draft policy on the customary practice of initiation;
· a policy on traditional healing and medicine and the role of traditional leadership in this cultural practice;
· a policy on the mainstreaming of Khoi-San indigenous knowledge systems; and
· a discussion document on the traditional marriage practice of ukuthwala.

According to the plan, “it is anticipated that by September 2011 there will be a policy in place dealing with the regulation of the initiation practice throughout the country. Parallel to this development, a draft bill will be in place by 31 March 2012”.

On the issue of ukuthwala, the plan states that “the present political climate” does not support the practice because it has been “widely abused”. A discussion document will nevertheless be presented to the minister “for record purposes” before the end of the current financial year. It is envisaged that this document will then be handed to the Commission on the Preservation and Protection of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Rights “for advocacy purposes”.

In a separate presentation on its strategic plan for 2011/12 to 2013/14, representatives of the department of cooperative governance told parliamentary portfolio committee members that a bill based on section 139 of the Constitution – aimed at providing “intergovernmental support” to provinces and municipalities failing to fulfil their constitutional obligations – is being finalised for tabling in Parliament by 30 September 2011.

Referring to the proposed bill, the presentation document circulated at the committee meeting singled out provisions for “disputes and interventions”.

During a recent meeting of the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) select committee on CoGTA, the proposed bill was referred to as the ‘Draft Monitoring, Support and Intervention Bill’. Members were advised that it would be presented to cabinet in May.

Also according to the presentation document, the department will:

· publish a discussion document for public comment in July 2011 that seeks to review the 1998 white paper on local government;
· finalise a green paper on cooperative governance by 31 March 2012;
· review and strengthen the legislative framework for ward committees and related community participation; and
· review and amend local government policy and legislation in order to improve human resource management and administrative practices.

On the issue of administrative practices and human resource management, the NCOP has approved the Local Government: Municipal Systems Amendment Bill, which has been referred to the state president for assent.

The bill can now be described as having been “unanimously voted into law”, as declared in a media statement following the National Assembly vote on the proposed new legislation.

According to that statement, once assented to by the president and allocated a commencement date, the new statute should herald the dawn of “developmental local government that is responsible, accountable, efficient and effective”.