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Khulumani facilitates the crafting of a submission to Parliament from the indigenous Cobuqua community of the Eastern Cape

Khulumani facilitates the crafting of a submission to Parliament from the indigenous Cobuqua community of the Eastern Cape Image: https://cobuqua.wordpress.com

On 4 June 2017, the submission facilitated by Khulumani Support Group to the Portfolio Committee on Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, addressed the many unresolved issues facing Khoi-San communities in South Africa that government has to date failed to resolve. 

The submission raises the concerns of the Cobuqua people that the proposed amendment to the Traditional Leadership and Governance Framework Act uses as its starting point an assumption that the same remedy can be applied to traditional communities which have had stewardship of land on behalf of their communities for many decades while Khoi-San communities remain mostly landless, having been dispossessed of their land over many years.  

The Cobuqua people highlight how the incremental building of a single, overarching system of governance for traditional communities despite their very different histories, provides for vastly different outcomes for the different communities. This is of particular concern for the Cobuqua people who have waited in vain until today, for the resolution of the land claim they submitted in 1998. 

Very few of the land claims submitted by Khoi-San communities have been addressed to date. This means that the Khoi-San traditional leaders preside over virtual territories while the traditional leaders of black African communities have authority as guardians of actual land over which they serve a stewardship role in the best interest of the members of their communities.

The material differences between Khoi-San and black African traditional communities means that a one-size-fits-all solution cannot provide justice to these very different traditional communities. 

It is the view of the Cobuqua people that the pursuit of further legislation in the form of an amendment to the Act, is flawed as long as these material differences are not engaged and resolved. There can be no single system of governance in this situation. As the Cobuqua people have consistently maintained, some individuals may be seduced by the offers of handsome monthly salaries, while the territorial aspirations of these communities continue to be ignored or suppressed. Without access to land on which these communities can re-establish their livelihoods, the proposed system remains a temporary solution that can only lead to future community distress and conflict. 

The Cobuqua people look forward to feedback from the Portfolio Committee on Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs in Parliament in respect of their submission (attached), given that they continue to highlight the fact that they cannot assimilate into a dominant model of governance of traditional communities. 

The perpetuation of this practice of subordinating people of Khoi-San descent into a dominant practice is a perpetuation of apartheid practices that have no place in a post-1994 constitutional democracy.

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