First-nation status for Khoisan ‘unsustainable’

2016-11-27 06:06

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

The government does not want the Khoisan people to be declared as the “first nation” of South Africa, warning this would create divisions in the country and would not be sustainable.

Deputy Minister Obed Bapela, who is responsible for traditional affairs, warned the National Assembly’s portfolio committee on Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs this week against some of the demands by Khoisan leaders, who are getting statutory recognition from the government for the first time since 1994.

Bapela addressed MPs a day before they took off for their nationwide public hearings on the Traditional and Khoi-San Leadership Bill, which provides for, among other things, the statutory recognition of the legitimate Khoisan leadership and communities, and has been in the pipeline for some time.

The bill also provides for the integration of recognised Khoisan leaders into existing houses of traditional leadership and doing away with separate structures for the Khoisan.

“Let’s not go into the temptation of giving them the first-nation status.

“If we go that route, it’s unsustainable … because they would then want their own government within the government system that we have,” said Bapela.

He explained that the UN definition of first nation is applicable in Latin America and Canada, where people were completely removed from their land and some arrived and settled there.

He said that in South Africa, the land still belongs to the Khoisan, together with other indigenous people of Africa, “rather than the first nation because we do not know who arrived at which point, when and where, and that history is not easy to trace”.

The director-general for traditional affairs, Muzamani Charles Nwaila, had earlier explained that the issue of first-nation status has got benefits attached to it.

He said that at the UN, those that had first-nation status had got to have their own government, own schools, own economic system and own set-up.

“But South Africa is a sovereign state and you can’t have a state within a state,” he said.

A document presented to the committee revealed that the department of traditional affairs has been receiving enquiries from the Khoisan communities about the rights and freedoms of said communities in terms of the various UN instruments.

To this end, the concerns that have been raised relate to the failure of the South African government to implement the UN Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the International Labour Organisation convention of 1989.

“The other concerns have been about the recognition of the Khoi and San as the first indigenous community in South Africa that is entitled to be accorded first-nation status,” reads the document.

It states that the concepts “indigenous”, “first peoples” and “first nation” have frequently been used interchangeably with other concepts such as aboriginal, native, original or tribal.

In pursuance of the demands for recognition as indigenous peoples that have a “first-nation” status, the Khoisan are also demanding that the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa be amended to recognise them as “first-nation” community in South Africa.


Do you think the Khoisan deserve the status of the first nation?

SMS us on 35697 using the keyword KHOISAN and tell us what you think. Please include your name and province. SMSes cost R1.50

Read more on:    un  |  obed bapela  |  culture

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

Inside News24

Competition regulation for a growing and inclusive economy

ADVERTORIAL: The Competition Commission of South Africa is conducting advocacy work in the South African automotive aftermarket industry and has gazetted a Draft Code of Conduct for public comment.

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.