Traditional leaders can help fight poverty, hunger - Premier

Friday, June 26, 2009

Pretoria - In line with government's focus on rural development, traditional leaders can play a major role in the fight against poverty and hunger, among others, says Limpopo Premier, Cassel Mathale.

Speaking at the opening of the Limpopo House of Traditional Leaders in Sekhukhune district on Friday, Mr Mathale said government has guaranteed the role of traditional leadership institutions in the Constitution and continues to work hard to see it succeed.

"In line with the government's priority on rural development, we believe that your institution is best located to play a role in the fight against poverty, hunger, homelessness, and illiteracy.

"We have established National, Provincial and Local Houses of Traditional leaders because we want to see you play an active role in tackling all of the abovementioned challenges," he said.

He said government has put in place a statutory Commission on Traditional Leadership claims and disputes to ensure that claims of traditional leadership and disputes are handled with legitimacy and attended to as speedily and effectively as possible.

"The days of apartheid governors determining who should be a traditional leader have passed.

"We are happy so far, that the Commission has already initiated due processes of ensuring that there are no discrepancies in the appointment of traditional leaders," he said.

The Commission is also working hard to ensure that traditional leaders are accorded their rightful status based on tradition and custom.

"We want to move away from the days when the title of a King was reserved only for the King of England. Africans have always been led by their Kings and Queens from time immemorial.

"There is no reason why we cannot continue to have them as long as our customs and tradition allow," he said.

However, he said, traditional leadership cannot be reduced to an exclusive domain for men, without women having a role to play.

The Premier said in today's society, like it has been in the past, there are women who are rightful heirs to their thrones based on heredity and custom.

"This practice does not start today, but is well documented throughout Africa.

"The practice of female matriarchs is a well-known thing and has been institutionalised and practiced since time immemorial," he said.

Mr Mathale further said they have already passed legislation which requires that at least one third of members in traditional councils must be women.

According to him, the provincial government will step up measures to establish and transform traditional councils in line with the prescript of the law, during this financial year,

This financial year, the provincial government has allocated a budget of R103 604 million, to cater for the needs of traditional leader's institutions.

To date, Mr Mathale said, they have appointed 183 senior traditional leaders and 2 067 headmen, who are on the payroll of government.

As part of measures to support traditional leaders to execute their mandate, the provincial government have appointed 716 staff members in traditional council offices.

"This means that we will have to fill the remaining 209 vacant posts in due course," he said.