New bill to integrate kings into politics

2011-08-11 22:18

Johannesburg - A proposed bill would integrate South Africa's traditional kings into the political and legal systems of the country, the department of traditional affairs said on Thursday.

"Through colonialism, our African heritage and culture have been destroyed, and as the custodians of African traditions, heritage and good governance... [the kings] have an extremely important role to play in the restoration of our heritage and culture," Acting Traditional Affairs Minister Nathi Mthethwa said in notes prepared for delivery.

He discussed the proposed national traditional affairs bill with traditional kings and leaders in Johannesburg on Thursday.

The bill would ensure that all forms of traditional leaders were recognised, and that matters of leadership were dealt with "holistically."

"Outstanding work includes the establishment of Kings' Councils, the reconstitution of traditional councils in some provinces and the establishment of local houses," Mthethwa said.

Fully represented

The bill would also ensure that the Khoisan, who had previously been marginalised by legislation, would also be fully represented in government structures.

"With the establishment of the new department of traditional affairs, and the establishment of provincial departments with a similar mandate, we have no doubt that these challenges will be dealt with successfully," he said.

The department split from the department of co-operative governance in January this year.

Both departments still functioned through the same ministry.

Mthethwa said the new department was instrumental in the creation of the bill.

"The new department will... engage robustly with other national department and organs of state to ensure that it plays a co-ordinating role on all matters relevant to the development of the institution of traditional leadership," he said.

Traditional Affairs director general Muzamani Charles Nwaila said the department and the traditional leaders had high goals, but also had no desire to win "Christopher Columbus" awards.

"These awards are given to people who don't know where they are going, have no idea where they are, and upon returning home don't know where they have been.

"I believe that we know what we want... what remains is the tough work on how to get there," he said.

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