KwaZulu-Natal traditional leaders are not happy about the monthly "stipend" they receive from the government, saying that it's not enough for them to support their families.
"Government should do away with the stipend we get. We should be getting salaries like everyone else, so we could get car and house allowances," one chief said.
They raised their concerns on Wednesday at a meeting with Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs MEC Nomusa Dube-Ncube in Durban.
About 300 chiefs from across the province, who attended the meeting in the Durban City Hall, claimed that the money was not enough, especially during the country's current economic crisis.
The amakhosi claimed that the stipend was insufficient for them to take care of their families.
During the meeting, it was revealed that only 60 out of about 300 recognised chiefs in the province have Government Employees Medical Scheme (GEMS) medical aid.
"It's not easy to take [up] medical aid with the money that we earn. If we take the medical aid, we would not have anything left for other needs, such as transport," another chief said.
They were also unhappy about their "disrespectful" headsmen (izinduna) and asked Dube-Ncube to give them the power to remove headsmen themselves when they were no longer seeing eye to eye, instead of applying to the department to have them removed.
"Most izinduna have become disrespectful towards amakhosi since they started getting paid by government," said one chief.
"The president (of the country) has the right to appoint ministers and they serve at the behest of the president. Why don't we apply the same when it comes to traditional leaders? If I'm no longer happy with an induna, why can't I remove him because the relationship no longer works?"
The traditional leaders also told the MEC that they wanted her to provide Provincial House of Traditional Leaders officials with their own chambers.
"We operate like Parliament, so we deserve our own house," they said.
They explained that they could not hold their meetings at the old KZN legislature in Ulundi because funeral services also took place there.
"According to our traditions and customs, a king is not supposed to go to a funeral. So we can't use the old legislature building because when funeral services take place there, deceased bodies are brought in there," said one concerned chief.
The chiefs touched on their concerns about demarcations on land they controlled, saying that they sometimes found themselves fighting among each other because some of the demarcations "were not properly done".
Dube-Ncube said she could not promise them much due to the national government's budget constraints.
On the issue of the chamber, she said it was not her department's responsibility to provide the traditional leaders with a building.
"Cogta does not administer any buildings but all government's buildings fall under the Department of Public Works," she said.
Dube-Ncube added that the issue of demarcations was a major problem "hence I always encourage that we work together with them to solve the problem".
"Amakhosi should have maps so that they know where their land ends," she said, adding that her department would ask demarcation experts to intervene.
She reiterated that headsmen did not work for the government but for amakhosi.
However, she pointed out that traditional leaders must follow proper channels and the Constitution when removing a headsman.
"The Constitution must be followed because izinduna are also protected under it. You can't force an inkosi to work with izinduna when the work relationship no longer works, but you must provide concrete reasons for the removal in order to avoid unnecessary court challenges," she said.
"On GEMS, we didn't just come up with it as the department, but the national government controls those things. We didn't just decide which medical aid the chiefs joined," she said.
She told the leaders that the government also contributed a portion towards their medical aid bill.
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