Traditional leaders’ wishlist: Running municipalities, managing elections

While the ANC appears keen to indulge traditional leaders in their quest for more power, the parliamentary constitutional review committee rejected constitutional amendments proposed by amakhosi which include running municipalities and elections.

City Press reported yesterday that the governing party was planning an urgent meeting with traditional leaders to discuss, among others, their proposal to participate in lawmaking as part time MPs.

Read: Give chiefs more power

But these are not the only powers traditional leaders want.

If it was up to them, municipalities as we know them would be a thing of the past. They would be replaced by the traditional councils. This, they claimed would expedite service delivery.

The proposals are revealed in a report of the parliamentary committee responsible for constitutional review. On Wednesday, the committee published the outcomes of a process that began in 2013.

Among the submissions it received were those of the National House of Traditional Leaders which proposed a review of Sections 151 and 155, which deal with local government, to be amended so that they make provision for municipalities to be replaced by traditional councils so as to expedite service delivery in traditional communities, reads the report.

They also wanted Section 41 (2) of the constitution – which deals with cooperative government – to make a provision for traditional councils to be included as intergovernmental structures to facilitate intergovernmental relations.

The chiefs also proposed an amendment of Section 190 (1) (a) of the Constitution, which deals with the functions of the Electoral Commission so that the IEC consults traditional councils in managing elections in “traditional communities”.

They also wanted Section 211 of the Constitution which deals with the recognition of traditional leadership to be amended so that it provides for the recognition of the institution of traditional leadership “not in case law, but to also ensure that it is guaranteed”.

The committee recommended that the matters raised do not necessarily speak to a review of the Constitution, but should rather be referred to the portfolio committee on cooperative governance and traditional affairs.

Other interesting proposals that did not fly with the committee was a call by a Ms Mosiane who wanted the constitution to be changed to recognise menstrual pains when considering sick leave for women.

“The committee is of the view that, the submission is covered in section 22 of the Basic Conditions of Employment Act ... which specifically deals with sick leave,” was the committee’s finding.

“Based on the above, the committee is of the view that the submission does not require an amendment to the constitution as it is already catered for in existing legislation.”

An O Shembe had a problem with the preamble of the constitution, specifically the phrase “South Africa belongs to all who live in it”.

Shembe wanted the phrase changed to “South Africa belongs to its legitimate and legal citizens”.

In light of the xenophobic violence which took place from time to time, the committee felt “a focus should rather be on fostering unity among Africans than emphasising differences as means of exclusion”.

A Mr L Mahlatsi proposed that the law be changed to permit homeowners to protect themselves by killing armed robbers in self-defence.

In rejecting his proposal, the constitutional review committee was of the view that, in light of constitutional rights to life, human dignity, freedom and security, any degree of force or violence may be executed lawfully in limited circumstances only. It added that self-defence was governed by common law.

The next round of submissions for constitutional amendments will be processed later this year.


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