Obed Bapela responds to criticism of Khoisan Bill

The minister says it's not true that govt is entrenching the tribal boundaries created under apartheid.

Deputy Minister of Traditional Affairs Obed Bapela. Picture: GCIS.

CAPE TOWN - Deputy Traditional Affairs Minister Obed Bapela says it's not true that government is entrenching the tribal boundaries created under apartheid with proposed new legislation.

He was responding to criticism of the Traditional and Khoisan Leadership Bill, which he presented to the portfolio committee on cooperative governance and traditional affairs today.

The bill promises to recognise the Khoisan people and their leaders, but critics are worried that its main effect will be to entrench the boundaries of the old Bantustans and to strengthen traditional councils in a way that is unconstitutional.

Programme Director at The Centre for Law and Society, Aninka Claassens was in Parliament today, listening to the Deputy Minister speak.

She says the Bill reasserts the tribal boundaries created under the 1951 Bantu Authorities Act as the domains of traditional leaders.

"It says that any tribe that existed, as at 2004, will be called a traditional community."

Deputy Minister Obed Bapela says this criticism is unfounded.

"Because people settled before apartheid and people settled differently before colonialism."

Claassens believes a small lobby of traditional leaders has been trying to get governmental powers of the kind they had during apartheid, but she says any law that gives them that power would be unconstitutional.