Initiation Bill not intended to usurp tradition – Parliament

Parliament does not intend to usurp traditional initiation while formulating the Customary Initiation Bill, said the chairperson for the Portfolio Committee on Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs.

Richard Mdakane on Sunday reassured traditional leaders, saying their contribution to the bill would be vital.

"Chiefs work well with us and we love them. Their authority is guaranteed in the constitution. Through this piece of legislation, we are doing something for the nation. We can't have a culture that brings tears to the people," Mdakane said.

Mdakane said the committee would invite chiefs and kings to Parliament, once the current process is finalised, "to get input from them on how best to practice the tradition".

The committee held its public hearings into the bill in Rustenburg, where people emphasised the difference between medical circumcision and traditional initiation, as well as the role of the chiefs in the tradition.

Mdakane said it concerned Parliament when culture was distorted and "often told from the perspective of people who have no interest in the culture".

"Distortion causes havoc. It is important for society to understand what is being taught at initiation schools. The content of the schools should be proper, such that parents feel at ease when their children are at initiation schools."

Mdakane said culture was about the development of society.

"We want to return better men and women from these schools. This bill provokes discussions throughout the country," he said.

The public hearings move to Limpopo on Monday, with Mpumalanga and Gauteng on Tuesday.