PROVIDING amakhosi with “tools of the trade” such as laptops is one example of how they have been empowered, said KwaZulu-Natal Co-Operative Governance and Traditional Affairs MEC Nomusa Dube. She spoke at the first meeting between Premier Senzo Mchunu, who was appointed in September, and the amakhosi. The premier wants traditional leaders to play a stronger role in maintaining peace in the run-up to next year’s general election. Provincial House of Traditional Leadership chairman Inkosi Phathisizwe Chiliza said in a statement the amakhosi would heed the call. Mchunu said it will have been an anomaly not to involve amakhosi in the development of the province. Among the trailblazers in the struggle for equality were traditional leaders such as King Shaka, Bhambatha kaManciza Zondi, King Cetshwayo, King DinuZulu and Inkosi Albert Luthuli. Mchunu said although KwaZulu-Natal’s levels of poverty, service delivery and under-development had improved since apartheid, three million out of 10,2 million people still face poverty. For many, HIV/Aids remains a challenge. Dube said the province’s programme of working with amakhosi to ensure they play a leadership role in community governance structures will continue. A University of KwaZulu-Natal study programme for amakhosi, their involvement in municipal council structures, stipends, travel allowances, and vehicles for the chair and the deputy chair of the House of Traditional Leaders were among the other benefits they receive to assist them in this role, she said. “Let us work with you as amakhosi to ensure that we never return to the ugly dark days of political instability. Rather, let us be known as a province whose communities are living free of poverty, hunger and disease,” said Mchunu.