Parliament approves Khoisan Leadership Bill
Cape Town – In a historic move, 21 years in the making, yesterday marked the first step in restoring the dignity of Khoisan people with Parliament’s approval of the Traditional and Khoisan Leadership Bill.
Chairperson of the National Assembly committee on co-operative governance Richard Mdakane said he was happy the dignity of Khoisan people could be restored.
“This is just the first step to recognise them as traditional leaders where they are existing. The Khoi have not been recognised for 100 years. Dispossession is their primary grievance.
“The community was dispersed everywhere, their system of governance was destroyed and they are trying their best to restore it,” he said.
In January, the bill was amended by the National Council of Provinces.
The amendment was around traditional councils not being allowed to enter partnership with any person without the agreement of the community as majority.
Khoisan activist, Chief Khoisan SA said: “The most important issue for us is that we want (the) first nation status and the rights of first nation.
“The second thing is the identity of our people, still we are classified as coloured, which is not our identity. It’s a derogatory term.
"Our people across the country are deprived of everything that is rightfully theirs. We have the worst genocide ever. We want government to rectify the injustices of the past.”
Another concern addressed by Khoisan activists was the fact that the bill says Khoisan leaders had to prove their lineage while other traditional leaders did not and because of colonialism, this might be difficult.
“There will be a committee that will deal with this matter. Those who claim they are royalties must go through the committee and prove that there - there will be no discrimination.
"We want to be objective. Where there is no history, they must go to the committee (to) give oral evidence. If they don’t, others are going to hijack this platform,” Mdakane said.