Pretoria - President Jacob Zuma has announced that the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs will replace the Department of Provincial and Local Government.
Mr Zuma, by including traditional affairs in the department's portfolio, has expressed his interest ensuring that the values and cultures of our nation are put at the forefront of government's agenda.
The establishment of a new Department for Traditional Leadership had been approved by Cabinet in March 2008, under former President Thabo Mbeki. It was expected to begin functioning from April this year; however, this did not happen.
At the time, there was speculation that this department would have been called the Department of Traditional Leadership and Rural Development.
The former Department of Provincial and Local Government and House of Traditional Leadership had been tasked with leading the process for the establishment of this new department.
Former President Thabo Mbeki had at the time said the role and status of the department would be important in enriching the country's democracy and giving further testament to the fact that traditions and cultures are critical to the strength, vibrancy and dynamism of modern societies.
Sicelo Shiceka will remain as minister in this department; his deputy is Yunus Carrim, who was Chairperson of the Provincial and Local Government Portfolio Committee from March 1998 until June 2004.
Parliament has been working on the finalisation of the Traditional Courts Bill which 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.
The legislation will also 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 also been passed.