Residents of Mahikeng and surrounding areas requested Parliament to give them more time to study the Traditional and Khoi-San Leadership Bill in order to make meaningful contributions on the draft legislation.
They told the Portfolio Committee on Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs that the time allocated for the public hearings on the Bill was not adequate, as some citizens only had less than a day to go through the Bill and were then expected to make comments.
“The time is not enough for the community to engage on the Bill, some of us only saw it for the first time today. Can you please allow us more time to go through it and come back for the public consultation,” Dipuo Matlhonoko said.
Another member of the community who claimed to have seen the Bill for the first time on the day of the public hearing, Mr Goitseone Motseoakhumo, said he needed two weeks to study it before he can make an input.
Kgosi Gobusamang Shole from the Provincial House of Traditional Leaders asked the Committee to have the Bill translated into local languages, documents must be available is Setswana and for the Bill to be renamed “Traditional Affairs Bill”.
“The documents must also be available is Setswana. It is always good to read for yourself than to rely on interpretation and I also think the legislation should be renamed Traditional Affairs Bill because the current title makes the Khoi-San special than other tribes,” he told the Committee at the packed Mafikeng Civic Centre on Tuesday.
He also advised the Committee to consult further with houses of traditional leaders at local and provincial levels.
“Rural communities under traditional leadership are excluded from benefiting from natural resources, yet they are the owners of the land.
“Chiefs are still oppressing the people in rural communities, it is not true that communities do not respect traditional leaders – people feel undermined. Makgosi do not own the land, we all have equal rights to the land and the natural resources,” he said.
Committee Chairperson Mr Richard Mdakane said the Committee will return to the North West Province to meet with traditional leaders on issues raised by the public that were not related to the Bill.
“We are not here because we are scared to go to the Constitutional Court, but because the Constitution enjoins us to consult the public and we are here also to learn because we do not know everything, we value the views of our people,” he said.
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