Dr Nomafrench Mbombo, MPP
Western Cape Minister of Cultural Affairs and Sports
Note: This is the speech that was delivered by Minister of Cultural Affairs and Sport, Dr Nomafrench Mbombo, at the Western Cape Provincial Parliament during a debate on the recognition of the Khoi-Khoi and San communities as well as other traditional leaders by the Western Cape government.
I note the presence of traditional leaders from the different cultural groups: The Khoikhoi, the San, the Griquas and others.
To abantwana Bomthonyama, umzukulwana kaKhawuta, Nojaholo, Qhankqolo, Ntswentswe, Nyembezana, azicamagushele, athi makudede ubumnyama kuvele ukukhanya.
Honourable Speaker, South Africa is a diverse country with a rich heritage.
We have a progressive Constitution that allows us to do more than paying lip service to recognising and promoting heritage.
Ours is a Constitution that creates an obligation on the state and on the judiciary to safeguard our traditional groups and allow for them to carve out their space in society.
The Western Cape provincial Constitution, states clearly that provincial legislation must make provision for the establishment and reasonable funding, within the provinces’ reasonable resources, of a cultural council or councils for a community or communities in the Western Cape, sharing a common cultural and language heritage.
This provision of our provincial constitution is brought to life in various ways to recognise and celebrate the different cultural groups in our province.
We respect, promote and protect individual and group cultures, including traditional leadership.
The Policy on Registration of Cultural Councils in Recognition of Cultural Communities is one example.
The truth is Honourable Speaker, the work we have done with the different traditional and cultural groups in the province can only be appreciated by the recipients of our service and not those who are driven by a political agenda.
This government, in recognising all cultural groups in the province, has registered 24 cultural councils, 16 of those are councils belonging to the Khoi and San community.
During the 2012/13 and 2013/14 financial years, 14 of the Khoi and San Cultural Councils , two isiXhosa Councils, the Basotho Bakae and Zulu Councils benefitted .
In all three of our public entities, namely, the Western Cape Cultural Committee, the Western Cape Language Committee and the Western Cape Heritage Committee, we have representatives of the Khoi and San communities.
Two sites are declared Provincial Heritage Sites for the Khoi and San cultural group- the Ratelgat and the Saron Mission Station.
The Introductory Training Programme to basic Nama (mostly spoken in the Northern Cape and “Namaqualand”) remains one of our flagship projects to preserve this language.
This programme was rolled out through Western Cape.
So far, 600 people benefitted from this structured course that was aimed to teach people of the Western Cape Nama in order to keep the heritage alive.
Thousands of course booklets and CD’s for this programme were printed and distributed across the Western Cape and the manual remains accessible.
Currently, funds have been allocated to research projects that would focus more on Griqua decedents.
The low rate of initiation deaths in this province is accredited to the good relationship and collaborations we have with traditional leaders.
The chairs of initiation schools, such as amaXesibe in Khayelitsha, are members of cultural communities as custodians of the culture.
We have ongoing dialogue with the Provincial Traditional Leadership where all traditional and cultural groups are represented. The Province is represented by three Ministers.
With the Cultural Commission meeting quarterly to discuss matters pertaining to the preservation of culture and heritage, this government remains in touch with the people who have entrusted them with the power to lead.
Honourable Speaker, for the benefit of our distinguished guests, it is high time that we bust some myths.
Our detractors are dead-set on painting a picture of government that doesn’t care for or respect traditional leadership and cultural communities.
The leader of the opposition must read a report by the national Commission on Traditional Leadership Disputes and Claims of 2012 when the commission met 26 senior traditional leaders in the Western Cape as commissioned by the Honourable Premier.
This demonstrates that we care and respect abantu abadala.
The debate that the Honourable Leader of the Opposition is raising should have been tabled in National Parliament.
They don’t seem to care and recognise the KhoiKhoi and San leaders, at least on paper.
Honourable Speaker, the opposition must answer to the Khoi and San communities why the Traditional Affairs Bill hasn’t been tabled in National Parliament?
This is the piece of legislation that would allow for the legal status of this community.
They left the Khoikhoi and San out of the National House of Traditional Leaders Act (2009) and Traditional Leadership and Governance Framework Act, 2003.
Even when they had the opportunity to correct this infringement of identity of Khoi and San in the amendment of these laws, the ANC government added five kingships to the existing six.
Unfortunately, the Khoikhoi and San were left out- again!
Honourable Speaker, one wonders why the poorly drafted Traditional Affairs Bill, which was meant to give recognition to the Khoikhoi and San, was introduced in November 2013?
Was it a ploy to get Khoikhoi and San votes during the 2014 elections?
Elections are over, and where is the bill?
Vanished into thin air, it will probably be resuscitated in November 2015 for the 2016 local government elections.
The Western Cape Government cannot without the requisite legislation establish a House of Traditional Leaders. Passing this legislation is a national competency, falling squarely on national government’s ambit.
It is therefore extremely surprising that we are here, Honourable Speaker, defending the Western Cape Government’s delivery on looking after our traditional and cultural groups when the real issue emanates from national government’s inability to act with speed on this Bill.
Honourable Members, preserving our heritage in this province is a responsibility that my department and I take very seriously under the leadership of the Premier.
As a people, we must pride ourselves on the magic that is our diversity.
We must preserve all that we know and all that we have for generations to come.
The Western Cape Government commits to doing everything within our mandate to keep the spirit of the different cultures and traditions alive in this province.