‘Govt and amakhosi can work together’

2010-05-06 00:00

THE institutions of traditional leadership and modern democracy are certainly compatible with one another when they are managed properly.

This was the view of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs deputy minister Yunus Carrim during his address at the traditional councils, local government and rural local governance summit in Durban yesterday.

The holding of the summit is the result of a suggestion made by President Jacob Zuma during his address at the opening of the National House of Traditional Leaders earlier this year.

Carrim’s comments come against the backdrop of a persistent “power struggle” between councillors and traditional leaders over who has the ultimate authority over traditional communities, especially in rural areas.

This power struggle has manifested itself frequently with some amakhosi “blocking” municipality-driven infrastructural development in their areas because they were not properly consulted.

“Exactly how we find the synergy between elective democracy and the institution of traditional leadership changes over time. It is invariably contested. There are inevitable tensions. We must accept these differences and manage them. But we have certainly come a long way since 1994,” Carrim said.

Presenting the legal definition of traditional councils, Carrim said: “They [traditional councils] are meant to work with municipalities to identify the needs of a traditional community and facilitate their involvement in municipal affairs, including through shaping IDPs [Integrated Development Plans] and participating in service delivery.”

On the crucial issue of co-operation between traditional councils and municipalities, he said there should be a constant sharing of information on matters of mutual interest.

“While both municipalities and traditional councils need to reach out to each other, in general, it is for municipalities to be more active in trying to secure an effective relationship,” he said.

KwaZulu-Natal Premier Zweli Mkhize and Rural Development Minister Gugile Nkwinti are expected to address the summit today.

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