Fedusa slams Traditional Courts Bill
The draft Traditional Courts Bill, as it stands, is unconstitutional, Fedusa says.
In a presentation to Parliament's security and constitutional development select committee, Federation of Unions of SA (Fedusa) vice president for gender, Martle Keyter, said the bill upheld an unjust patriarchal system which would perpetuate current systems of oppression and discrimination against women.
The committee is currently holding public hearings on the draft legislation.
Keyter said the most distressing aspect was the denial of choice for people living within the boundaries of the traditional courts.
According to the bill, they were are not permitted to opt out of the jurisdiction of a traditional court.
Of specific concern to Fedusa was the assumption in the bill that presiding officers could order free and forced labour as a consequence for what might be considered unacceptable behaviour in the eyes of the traditional courts or leaders.
"This goes against the core mandate of the federation to ensure decent work for all South Africans," she said.
Not only was free and forced labour against the ideals of decent work, but no traditional leader should be given the right to order a punishment that threatened the dignity and well-being of an individual, and therefore imposed on their constitutional rights.
Furthermore, the bill allowed for further entrenchment of the gender inequalities in certain South African communities.
"In South Africa, all legislation should seek to prioritise gender and mainstream it within the system so as to rectify the entrenched inequalities in our society.
"The [bill] should serve a purpose to eradicate previous patriarchal systems that entrenched the mistreatment of women, and provide alternatives that will enable women to have greater access to justice and equal rights."
However, the bill did not achieve this at all. Not least in its assignment of power to only one senior leader, which was usually a male traditional leader, Keyter said.