Public hearings on the Traditional and Khoi-San Leadership Bill were scuppered on Thursday after parliament’s oversight committee arrived late to the Kimberley venue.
Kimberly, in the Northern Cape, was the first stop on committee’s scheduled consultations with Khoi and San communities in the nine provinces.
Chairperson of the portfolio committee on cooperative government and traditional affairs Richard Mdakane said the late arrival was beyond MPs control but in order to properly consult with the communities, they would make another attempt in January.
“The committee further wants to assure the members of the public that the unfortunate occurrences of Thursday were by no means a sign of disrespect towards the Khoi and San people or any South African for that matter,” he said.
Mdakane reiterated that the committee had strived to “always ensure meaningful public participation at all stages of this draft legislation and as such, will be visiting all the nine provinces to solicit people’s views”.
Public hearings were held in Kuruman on Friday and were scheduled for Saturday too. The committee plans to sit down with communities in Upington as well.
The bill, which has been in the pipeline since 1997, provides for statutory recognition of legitimate Khoi and San leadership.
This means these leaders would also be recognised alongside already established houses of traditional leaders; a name which would then be changed to the houses of Traditional and Khoi-San Leaders.
Mdakane said unlike the current traditional leaders’ legislation, the Khoi-San would be given an opt-out clause, meaning they would not have to be affiliated to the conglomerate of traditional leaders in the areas in which they lived.
The already recognised community members living in traditional leadership lands have not been afforded the same opportunity.