Matanzima urges Zuma to sign Traditional Courts Bill into law

2015-03-11 08:45

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Chief Ngangomhlaba Matanzima, chairperson of the Eastern Cape House of Traditional Leaders, has urged President Jacob Zuma to sign the controversial Traditional Courts Bill into law before he leaves office when his term ends.

The bill, which sought to regulate the functioning of the traditional courts, was withdrawn from Parliament early last year.

This followed five years of toing and froing between Parliament and the provincial legislatures about the bill which was rejected by five of the nine provinces during a public participation process.

Women’s rights groups were also opposed to the bill, saying it was oppressive to women.

Matanzima said traditional leaders continued to hear and mediate in cases in rural areas using an old outdated law which was passed by the old regime.

“There is a bill that has been in the making for at least eight years, the Traditional Courts Bill which is not coming right.”

Addressing Zuma directly at a debate in the National House of Traditional Leaders in Parliament yesterday, Matanzima said: “It’s not right that we hesitate when dealing with issues that are at the foundation of our society. That is not right.”

Matanzima said a government could not make nice laws every day; some laws were passed even if the people were not happy.

“There is no law that is liked by all the people, all the time. We are also opposed to the law on abortion, but it is a law. Why can’t this law be passed even though others are opposed to it?” he asked to loud applause and cheering from other traditional leaders in the house.

This was one of the requests on a long to-do list that traditional leaders had for the president.

Their requests included ensuring a quick return of land to the traditional leaders, capacitating them with training courses on leadership and providing tools of trade and giving them benefits such as pension and medical aid.

IFP leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi applauded Zuma’s promise to help poor people till the soil in the fight against poverty.

But Buthelezi warned the president to ensure that he delivered on his promise. “My plea sir, as someone of my age, is that we should not bluff each other. We should carry out promises that we make to our people.

“The colonial government and the apartheid regime made a lot of promises to us, deceiving us; we don’t expect this from our black government. This government is our government and that is why I will fight to death any derogation at your office …”

“A person of my age, it is expected that we have fewer years to go there. What would I say to your ancestors about what the government did for the people?”

The deputy chairperson of the National House of Traditional Leaders, Nkosi Sipho Mahlangu, welcomed Zuma’s advice for traditional leaders to club together and hire lawyers who would help rural communities to make their land claims.

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