Following the end of term for the 2012-2017 National House of Traditional Leaders (NHTL) on 16 August 2017, an important milestone has been achieved as all the seven (7) Provincial Houses of Traditional Leaders have been reconstituted as follows:
- Bokone Bophirima
- Free State
- KwaZulu Natal
- Eastern Cape
- Northern Cape
Gauteng and the Western Cape Provinces do not have houses of traditional leaders. Gauteng Province only has two senior traditional leaders whereas chapter 4 (17) of the Framework Act stipulates qualification for a local house with subsection (2) (a) stating that members of a local house of traditional leaders may not be less than five (5). On the other hand, the Western Cape Province does not have recognised senior traditional leaders.
This important milestone paves way for the 2017 to 2022 National House of Traditional Leaders (NHTL) to be reconstituted; and plans are already afoot to convene and conclude this on 09 November 2017. The NHTL is a body composed of traditional leaders who are delegates from the Provincial Houses of Traditional Leaders of South Africa, representing the Provincial Houses of Traditional Leaders at national level.
The NHTL is a statutory body established to represent traditional leadership and their communities; advance the aspirations of the traditional leadership and their communities at national level; advance the plight of provincial houses of traditional leaders, traditional leadership and their communities at national government level; participate on international matters that have to do with custom, traditions and matters of common interest and influence government legislative processes at national level.
The mandate of the House is to: promote the role of traditional leadership within the constitutional dispensation; promote nation-building; promote peace, stability and cohesiveness of communities; develop, preserve and promote culture and traditions of communities; consider Parliamentary Bills referred to it by the Secretary; participate in intergovernmental structures and advise national government and make recommendations on any matter that government may require. The national and provincial houses of traditional leaders enhance the cooperative relationships within national and provincial government, whereas the local houses of traditional leaders deepen and cement the relationship between municipalities and traditional leaders on customary law and development initiatives.
Speaking on the side-lines of the provincial house meeting in the Northern Cape, Deputy Minister Obed Bapela emphasised that government acknowledges the critical role of traditional leadership institutions in South Africa’s constitutional democracy and in communities, particularly in relation to the rural-development strategy. “We therefore guided by the laws of our country, remain committed to strengthening the institution of traditional leadership”, said DM Bapela.
Government will continue supporting this important institution guided by numerous pieces of legislation that have been passed and various programmes implemented to ensure that traditional leadership makes an important contribution to the development of communities across the country.
Minister Des van Rooyen emphasised the importance of having these important structures functional and playing their legislative role, interacting with various pieces of legislation and other key issues in this sector. These structures provides strategic guidance to areas like initiation, nation building, preservation of culture and traditions of communities, ensuring the transformation and adaptation of customary law and customs and that they comply with the provisions of the Bill of Rights as enshrined in the Constitution.
Minister Van Rooyen congratulated all provinces for having complied with the legislation and ensuring that the constitution process of Provincial Houses of Traditional Leaders is concluded successfully.
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