Eden District Khoi-San People Support Traditional and Khoi-San Leadership Bill

The Paramount Chief of the Attequa Khoi-San people, Chief Gert Mooney, told Members of the Portfolio Committee on Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs that all the Khoi-San people of Kannaland welcomed the Traditional and Khoi-San Leadership Bill and are looking forward to its assent by the President of the Republic of South Africa in spite of the reservations they have about it.

eden-dmHe said although Khoi-San people were never taken serious by the first democratic government after 1994 elections until now, they are giving the Bill a benefit of doubt. “We are hoping that when it becomes a law there will be some difference in the manner in which we are treated by the government, which claims to be the government of all the people of South Africa,” said Chief Mooney. He said the Attequa Khoi-San wished that the recognition of Khoi-San people, their leadership and structures, which the Bill seeks to achieve, will happen after the Bill has become a law.

The various chiefs of the different groups of Khoi-San people in the Eden District Municipality gave examples to support their claim of non recognition by the government. One example is that they are excluded from the broad-based black economic empowerment (BBBE) strategies, which aim to draw the historically disadvantaged people into the mainstream economy of South Africa.

“BBBE policy ignores Khoi-San people. Because we are referred to as so-called coloureds, we are not black enough and therefore fall outside BBBE, said Mr Abraham Timmy of the Griqua.

Mr Timy said he wished that the Bill included the return to the rightful owners of the land that was forcefully taken by the settlers. “The history is clear about how Khoi-San people who are now scattered around the whole country living on outskirts lost their land. Even this very meeting is taking place in the periphery of Oudtshoorn. The urban Oudtshoorn is occupied by settlers,” said Mr Timmy. Notwithstanding those realities, he said the Khoi-San people of the kingdom of the Griqua Kingdom support the Bill.

The Acting Chairperson of the Committee, Mr Andrew Masondo, thanked the traditional leaders of the Khoi-San people in the Eden District for their cooperation and the commitment to the public hearings on the Bill. He urged the traditional leaders and their people to continue standing up when there is a call for public participation, especially for law-making. He said one of the strategic imperatives of the fifth Parliament is to deepen public participation. “Those who have not spoken because of time constraints must pass their written submissions to us. The Committee is going to consider all the written submissions,” he said.

The Committee completed the Western Cape round of public hearings on Saturday in Oudtshoorn, with the majority of the Khoi-San people supporting the Bill. Hundreds of ordinary people of Eden District’s Kannaland braved the 40 degree heat to contribute to the hearings on the Bill.

The Committee then proceeded to the Eastern Cape, where it will be in East London, Mthatha, Graaf-Reinet and Port Elizabeth to present the Khoi-San people there with an opportunity to express their views on the Bill.

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