We love chiefs‚ we don't want to cut them out of initiation: parliament chair

20 August 2018 - 07:55 By Nomahlubi Jordaan
Traditional Xhosa applies traditional white clay for skin protection during a traditional initiation process. File photo.
Traditional Xhosa applies traditional white clay for skin protection during a traditional initiation process. File photo.
Image: Mujahid Safodien/AFP

The Customary Initiation Bill is not intended to take away the custodianship of traditional initiation‚ parliament’s portfolio committee on cooperative governance and traditional affairs has reassured traditional leaders.

“Chiefs work well with us and we love them. Their authority is guaranteed in the constitution. Through this piece of legislation‚ we are doing something for the nation. We can’t have a culture that brings tears to the people‚” said the committee’s chairperson Richard Mdakane.

The bill aims to provide effective regulation of initiation schools and general conditions around customary initiation. This comes after 21 deaths were recorded nationally for the 2018 initiation season. According to Nkululeko Nxesi‚ executive director of the Man and Boy Foundation‚ 20 deaths were reported in the Eastern Cape and one in Gauteng.

Mdakane said the committee would invite chiefs and kings to Parliament to get input from them on how best to practise the tradition.

The committee held public hearings on the bill in Rustenburg‚ where people emphasised the difference between medical circumcision and traditional initiation‚ as well as the role of chiefs in the tradition.

Mdakane said parliament became concerned when culture was distorted and often told from the perspective of people who had no interest in it.

“Distortion causes havoc. It is important for society to understand what is being taught at initiation schools. The content of the schools should be proper‚ such that parents feel at ease when their children are at initiation schools‚” he said.

“Culture is about development of society. We want to return better men and women from these schools. This bill provokes discussions throughout the country‚” he said.

The public hearings move to Limpopo on Monday‚ and then Mpumalanga and Gauteng.

X