Traditional and Khoi-San Leadership Bill awaits Ramaphosa's signature

While it paves the way for the recognition of traditional leaders among the Khoi and the San people, critics are questioning the power it will give traditional leaders.

Khoi-San leaders watching proceedings in Parliament's Old Assembly Chamber on 10 January 2019, where the NCOP has passed the Traditional and Khoi-San Leadership Bill. Picture: Gaye Davis/EWN

CAPE TOWN - The National Assembly has approved the Traditional and Khoi-San Leadership Bill and it will now need only President Cyril Ramaphosa’s signature to become law.

The bill has been described as controversial. While it paves the way for the recognition of traditional leaders among the Khoi and the San people, critics are questioning the power it will give traditional leaders to strike deals with mining and other companies, without the proper consultation or consent of their communities.

The bill was passed by the National Council of Provinces during a special sitting in January, sparking accusations from land rights activists that the ANC government is trying to ram it through ahead of elections to appease traditional leaders and secure rural votes.

The EFF says the bill doesn’t respond to rural people’s demands, leaving them locked in second-class citizenship “where they are condemned to be led by feudal lords who are used by politicians and unscrupulous mining companies”. The EFF has rejected this bill.

The DA and Cope also opposed the bill. But ANC speakers stressed the official recognition it intends giving Khoi and San leaders, assuming they will be able to meet the bill’s criteria, which include proving the existence of their communities over time.

(Edited by Shimoney Regter)