Defining role of traditional leaders

17 September 2003

Acting Provincial and Local Government Minister Penuell Maduna has said the House of Traditional Leaders will be fundamentally transformed through the Traditional Leadership and Governance Framework Bill.

Speaking during public hearings on the Bill in Parliament on Tuesday, Maduna said the Bill seeks to define the role of traditional leaders in municipalities, and also provides for the establishment of the Commission on Traditional Leadership, Disputes and Claims to help resolve disputes regarding the legitimacy of incumbent traditional leaders.

The Bill was discussed and approved by Cabinet in June, paving the way for its tabling in Parliament.

Maduna said the draft law opens a window of opportunity for municipalities and traditional councils to work together in the spirit of cooperative governance.

“Government believes that the envisaged partnerships will go a long way in accelerating service delivery in rural areas,” he said, and added that the Bill seeks to set up national norms for the enactment of provincial legislation.

The minister said the Bill further seeks to define the place and role of the House of Traditional Leaders within a democratic system.

“For the first time in our country’s history, the institution will play a significant role in uplifting the standards of living of an estimated 14 million people in rural areas,” he said.

The minister said District Houses of Traditional Leaders will be established to deepen the working relationship between municipalities and traditional leaders.

“The Bill retains the existing national and provincial houses, with an emphasis on enabling members of the houses to perform their functions more effectively,” said Maduna.

He said the Commission on Traditional Leadership, Disputes and Claims – which will operate nationally, with authority to decide on traditional leadership disputes and claims arising in any province – will be appointed by President Thabo Mbeki to investigate all disputes and claims dating from 1927, when the Native Administration Act was enacted.

Members of the Provincial and Local Government Portfolio Committee are expected to vote on the Bill by 17 October, from where it will be forwarded to the National Council of Provinces for consideration.

Source: BuaNews