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Khoi-San leadership will finally be recognised: Ramaphosa

04 March 2021 - 12:21 By amanda khoza
President Cyril Ramaphosa. File photo.
President Cyril Ramaphosa. File photo.
Image: Esa Alexander/Sunday Times

President Cyril Ramaphosa on Thursday announced the Traditional and Khoi-San Leadership Act will come into effect from April 1.

“The country’s Khoi and San leaders will, after following the prescribed processes, for the first time enjoy official recognition and will serve in the national and provincial houses,” said Ramaphosa who was addressing the opening of the National House of Traditional Leaders in parliament on Thursday.

“This is a significant milestone,” said Ramaphosa.

Earlier this week, the Recognition of Customary Marriages Amendment Bill was also passed by parliament and was expected to be sent soon to Ramaphosa for his assent.

“The Customary Initiation Bill has been considered by both the National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces and is currently on the National Assembly order paper for consideration,” said the president.

Ramaphosa reminded the house that it was previously agreed that a presidential summit on land would take place. However, processes leading up to the summit had been placed on hold due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“We remain committed to hosting the presidential summit on land and it is critical that we resuscitate the initial plans to convene provincial engagements beforehand.

“I am however pleased that even under these difficult circumstances, the interministerial committee on land reform chaired by the deputy president has continued to do further work on the key issues.”

Ramaphosa said the interministerial committee continued to oversee work on policy research around the important issue of communal land tenure.

He said the national house had partnered with the Solidarity Fund to implement the farming inputs voucher project, which helped mitigate the impact of the pandemic on traditional farming communities.

“I have further been advised that the department of traditional affairs and the department of agriculture, land reform and rural development now have a memorandum of understanding in support of agricultural projects in rural communities.”

On the matter of the powers and functions of traditional leaders, Ramaphosa said broad consultations that were agreed on last year needed to be conducted.

“We will need to be creative about consultation mechanisms under the new conditions that Covid-19 has imposed on us to ensure we reach all sectors of society.”

On the economic reconstruction and recovery plan, which Ramaphosa announced in October 2020, he said initiatives that will stimulate job creation and put the economy back on track needed to be acted on.

Gender-based violence he said “threatens the health and safety of women and children”.

“We note with appreciation the efforts of traditional leaders to fight this scourge as well as other harmful cultural practices. This includes the commitment by the national house to work with the men’s sector of the SA National Aids Council to establish men’s parliaments in all 882 traditional councils.”

The house is expected to debate Ramaphosa's state of the nation address on March 11.