Traditional leaders join fight against social ills

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Social Development Deputy Minister Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu, in partnership with the South African National AIDS Council (SANAC) have unveiled a programme which aims to sensitise traditional leaders on issues of HIV, gender-based violence (GBV), domestic violence and family disintegration.

Launched on Wednesday, the Rock Leadership Programme will target more than 8 000 traditional leaders in traditional councils in eight provinces, who will participate in training.

The training will be implemented by the Southern Africa HIV and AIDS Information Dissemination Services (SAfAIDS) on behalf of the Social Development Department.

Speaking at the launch, Andile Zaseko from SAfAIDS said they are relying on the respect communities have for traditional leaders and by training the leaders, they will be able to mobilise their communities with the right messages and in turn communities will get vital information.

“We’ve tried to do it alone as professionals and left behind our leaders, who are supposed to lead the HIV campaign. We believe that once traditional leaders have information, they will be able to mobilise and be available for their communities.

“Traditional leaders are custodians of values, norms, practice and beliefs in the communities. We need to go back to basics,” Zaseko said.

Bogopane-Zulu said training will start on Thursday with Gauteng traditional leaders, and is expected to end by 31 March 2019.

“The manuals are ready in different languages. We will be documenting the traditional leaders who are prepared to be champions,” the Deputy Minister said.

Economic empowerment strategies 

The Deputy Minister acknowledged a high rate of unemployment in rural areas. She said the programme will also look at other economic empowerment strategies the traditional leaders will undertake.

“We will make sure that as the programme [progresses], there’s a session where all the funding entities are going to come and inform the leaders on what they are going to be funded for, and by who,” Bogopane-Zulu said.

She urged traditional leaders to avail spaces for shelters in rural communities to be used as places of safety for children and women.

“We are asking you to help us with the crèches so that they can prepare our children to go to school. You must also help us with the space so that we can feed the communities.”

Speaking to SAnews, Inkosi Khulile Mkhatshwa from Mpumalanga welcomed the initiative, saying it will bring traditional leaders together and promote changes in their communities.

“Before, we would just attend trainings and report back to our tribal councils but we couldn’t implement anything because we didn’t have resources. With this partnership with Social Development, we will make sure that we go down to our communities and conduct awareness campaigns, dialogues and imbizos,” Mkhatshwa said. –