Skills development for traditional leaders

The role and responsibilities of traditional leaders are such that a radically different approach is needed to ensure they have the capacity to deal with increasingly complex issues.

This is the view of Kgosi Madoda Zibi, chairperson of North West House of Traditional Leaders.

Speaking after the State of the Province address by Premier Thandi Modise, he said a greater emphasis must be placed on producing more academically-qualified traditional leaders.

“There are matters pertaining to health, education and infrastructure [that require higher levels of qualification].

“We have set it in our development goals that traditional leaders have to act locally but think globally. The time is now gone where we can concentrate only on what we have.

“Of course, you can’t take the old people to class again, so it is the up-and-coming, young people that need be schooled through university or even short courses on leadership, conflict management, project management and such things.”

He said that some progress has been made and it is not uncommon to find lawyers, medical doctors, and engineers — even a nuclear physicist — but that this is more the exception than it is the norm.

With these kinds of skills filling the ranks of traditional leadership, he believes, the Houses of Traditional Leaders would be able to start taking greater ownership of issues that directly affect their communities.

This is particularly relevant in regard to legislation, which is referred by provinces to these structures for ratification rather than stemming from the traditional leadership ranks.

“One of the things we are going to start fighting for is resources. Municipalities govern; people in the villages are interested in bread and butter issues, not sentiment.

“If you look at the era before democratistiation, traditional leaders built schools and clinics by taxing their people. At the end of it, people are unemployed and poor, but they have ownership of these problems. It’s theirs, so if there is an uprising they cannot burn down a school they built.”

This article forms part of the supplement paid for by the North West office of the Premier. Contents and photographs were supplied and signed off by the ofiice