LETTER TO THE EDITOR | Not only government should be accountable, traditional leaders should be too

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King Goodwill Zwelithini, Ingonyama Trust’s sole trustee.
King Goodwill Zwelithini, Ingonyama Trust’s sole trustee.
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Madikgomo Faith More writes that traditional leaders are hardly present when they are needed, especially during the Covid-19 pandemic and questions their value to society. 


Good governance, accountability, transparency, and collaboration are required during these unprecedented times. This kind of strong leadership is not just expected and needed from our government, politicians, business leaders, and investors, but from all community, religious and traditional leaders.

The institution of traditional leadership in most cases plays an unidentified role as many traditional leaders fulfil different roles at different times in their respective communities. Hence, different evolutions as can be seen in KwaZulu-Natal with King Goodwill Zwelithini and the Ingonyama Trust, and the kind of power and influence he wields. You can compare his power, role and influence  to kings in the Eastern Cape, which is very different. 

The Covid-19 pandemic has required us citizens to probe and ask what, why, and when. The government and traditional leaders need, through policy and legislation, to define what the institution of traditional leadership means and the institution's role in 2020.

Why should we continue to incorporate them into our South African state and when are we likely to see their work and contribution to the country? This question was invoked by traditional leaders' absence with regards to food parcels and the distribution thereof during the lockdown. The deafening silence of our leaders in matters of gender-based violence and the increasing instability experienced during this time also warrants such questions.

Traditional leaders, particularly in the Eastern Cape, want to run initiation schools at a time like this. But they shouldn't be allowed to exploit our customs and traditions for selfish reasons.

Who we are and where we come from will not be eradicated because we cannot go to initiation schools.

The time has come for our leaders to show leadership and accountability by coming up with innovative ways to enhance and sustain who we are in a changed reality. This also includes being active and visible in conversations that affect us all.

 - Madikgomo Faith More, Pretoria.

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