Draft Bill to advance traditional leaders role in Gauteng

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Boksburg - A draft Bill on Traditional Leadership and Governance for Gauteng has been developed to advance the role of traditional leaders in developing rural communities.

Speaking at the Traditional Leaders Indaba in Boksburg on Thursday, Gauteng MEC for Local Government Qedani Mahlangu said the draft Bill will seek innovative ways in respect of defining the relationship between local government structures, traditional leaders and traditional communities.

"This legislation will open a window of opportunity for government and traditional leadership to co-operate with each other in the spirit of strengthening co-operative governance and putting people first," she said.

The draft Bill, the MEC said, has been developed to provide for the recognition of traditional communities, traditional leadership, customary law, customs and traditional institutions.

It was imperative, she said, to give traditional leaders the recognition they deserve.

"Now that Gauteng has two traditional authorities by Chief Mahlangu and Chief Kekana, we have to give them the necessary support they need.

"I have given an undertaking that as the department responsible for traditional affairs in the province we will give the Amakhosi (chiefs) all the necessary support to ensure that they become functional and sustainable institutions of governance in our province," the MEC said.

She called upon traditional leadership to actively participate in local government, firstly as members of the community and secondly as members of Traditional Councils.

A number of meetings and workshops were held to ensure that traditional leadership, interested and affected stakeholders have an opportunity to input on the draft bill and it has been sent to the state law advisors for pre-certification.

The two-day indaba has been organised by the Gauteng Department of Local Government to educate stakeholders about policies and Acts that regulate and govern the functioning of the traditional leadership.

Under the theme, "Broadening our horizon and bettering the lives of the rural communities", the indaba will discuss, among other, ways to assist traditional leaders to position themselves to play a meaningful role on governance issues on both local and provincial levels.

According to the provincial government's Status Quo Report on Traditional Leadership within the province, traditional leadership structures need to familiarise itself with local government planning processes.

The report declares that given its role of supporting local government, traditional leaderships' capacity should be strengthened in order to fulfill its legislative mandate.

Government at all levels is committed to supporting and straightening the institution of traditional leadership as is mandated by Traditional Leadership and Governance Framework Act.

The Act, which was adopted in 2003, requires national and provincial governments to adopt such legislation and measures to support and strengthen the capacity of traditional leadership councils within the province to fulfill their functions.