New govt will continue strengthening traditional leadership

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Pretoria - President Kgalema Motlanthe has assured the National House of Traditional Leaders that government, under a new administration, will remain committed to strengthening the House and its institutions.

Addressing the House at the Tshwane Metropolitan Municipality's Council Chambers on Thursday, the President said: "I am equally certain that based on this collaboration, the new government will take the issue of Traditional Leadership to a qualitatively higher level."

According to Mr Motlanthe, traditional leaders remained key stakeholders in the successful implementation of government programmes in rural areas.

"In this regard, your role in the development and growth of the rural areas of our country is constantly amplified through various legislative means government is putting in place," he said.

President Motlanthe said Parliament was currently working on the Traditional Courts Bill which, when finalised, would administer restorative justice and lessen the burden on urban courts.

The Bill, which deals with the civil and criminal jurisdiction of traditional leaders, is expected to go a long way in facilitating the contribution of traditional authorities in the criminal justice system.

Mr Motlanthe also said Parliament was close to completing legislation to alter the traditional pattern of succession and inheritance to empower women and children who have been historically disadvantaged by the traditional system.

The Traditional Leadership Governance and Framework Act of 2003 as well as the Communal Land Rights Act of 2004 have been passed.

With regard to the envisaged establishment of the Department for Traditional Leadership, President Motlanthe said: "We are working on the important matter of the Department of Traditional Leadership, which I am certain will be completed in due course."

The establishment of the new department was approved by Cabinet in March last year and former President Thabo Mbeki had announced that it would start functioning from 1 April 2009.

The Department of Provincial and Local Government was tasked with leading the process for the establishment of the new department, which might be called the Department of Traditional Leadership and Rural Development.

Kgoshigadi Mothapo, a member of the House, said government's commitment to establishing a department that would strictly concentrate on matters of traditional leadership was highly commended.

"We are positive that this department will position the institution strategically and make its functioning more effective and efficient. We would also suggest that the establishment of a department cascades to the provinces in order to ensure uniformity."

The House said the Poverty Eradication Indaba, which aims to discuss and come up with strategies to improve the conditions of the rural people, should be held in the new financial year.

The Indaba will concentrate more on empowerment and creating a sustainable rural development programs.