We are seen as inferior’

2013-09-30 00:00

INKATHA Freedom Party leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi believes the institution of traditional leadership is being pushed aside to become inferior and less important under the democratic government.

“None of this is said in words, but the message is abundantly clear through the actions and legislation of South Africa’s government,” Buthelezi said at the second commemoration of King Shaka Day at the weekend.

Buthelezi, speaking in his role as the traditional prime minister to the Zulu monarch, said every piece of legislation enacted under the democratic government had refused to memorialise the role, powers and functions of traditional leaders.

“Ever since then, piecemeal legislation has been passed to dictate to amakhosi what we may and may not do in terms of the governance of our people. We have been restricted to a ceremonial function, while our role and powers have been stripped away,” he said.

Buthelezi also said traditional leaders have spoken up against and called for the overhaul of the laws affecting traditional leadership.

His comments came in the wake of the Traditional Affairs Bill, which was published on September 20 for public comment by the Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Department.

The bill seeks to consolidate and repeal existing legislation on traditional leadership as well as providing recognition of the Khoi-San.

However, Buthelezi complained the bill did not provide for a budget for houses of traditional leaders.

“In terms of the national house, the minister must provide ‘financial support’, which does not necessarily mean a budget.

“The national house must submit annual estimates of expenditure to the minister for the next financial year, which suggests that the house will not have control over its own finances.”

Buthelezi said without resources, amakhosi would be hard pressed to implement even the most visionary development projects for the benefit of people.

He also complained that the bill provided for the national or provincial departments to give a role for a traditional council under determined conditions.

“There is no obligation. This reinforces the message being sent to our institution when amakhosi are barred from voting in municipal council meetings.

“The message is that our presence is tolerated, rather than valued,” Buthelezi added.

The bill provides for the minister to make regulations regarding the traditional, ceremonial and other roles and functions.

Calling for leadership change in the general elections, Buthelezi called on traditional leaders not to shy away from politics and speak only about the past.

“Our past has given us a heritage that we must carry into the future. To do that, we must assess the threats to our heritage and find a way to overcome them,” he said.

Inkosi Phathekile Holomisa, president of Contralesa, said their organisation had not seen the final bill.

“I am not aware that it has been published in a government gazette,” he said.

However, Holomisa said traditional leaders would reject the bill if it reduced their role to ceremonial duties only.

“That is not in accordance with the African way of culture. The role of traditional leaders is like that of the president of the country. They play both ceremonial and executive roles in the governance affairs of their communities,” he said.

He complained that the traditional leaders’ powers enshrined in the Constitution have sought to reduce their powers and their role in the development of their communities.

“Anything that falls short of giving power to govern is not going to be acceptable to us,” Holomisa said.

KZN House of Traditional Leaders chairperson Phathisizwe Chiliza could not be reached for comment.

• mayibngwe.maqhina@witness.co.za

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