Traditional leaders have a 'critical role'

South Africa’s traditional leaders and traditional communities have a critical role to play in the country and should not be allowed to slide into insignificance, said Democratic Alliance leader Tony Leon on Wednesday.

Addressing a meeting of the Organisation for Traditional Leaders of South Africa at Kekana Gardens in Hammanskraal, Leon said President Thabo Mbeki has on occasion declared that the powers of traditional institutions would not be diminished or eliminated, but that the current Traditional Leadership and Governance Framework Bill appears to backtrack on that promise.

The DA believes that traditional leaders’ role in managing communal lands has to be respected, said Leon.

Traditional leadership structures should also be incorporated into local government, he said. Although the leaders should not have special voting rights or act as substitutes for elected officials, they should be actively consulted by councils and act as advisers.

Their role in administering customary law should also be honoured, said Leon. The DA believes traditional leaders and communities should be given the opportunities and skills to encourage development in rural areas.

The severe problems of rural unemployment and poverty could only be addressed through the active involvement of traditional leaders, he said.—Sapa

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