Anger as Traditional Courts Bill jettisoned

28 February 2014 - 02:08 By Quinton Mtyala
President Jacob Zuma. File photo
President Jacob Zuma. File photo
Image: Gallo Images

Disgruntled sections of the traditional leadership have lashed out at President Jacob Zuma's administration for throwing the Traditional Courts Bill out of parliament.

Speaking to The Times on the sidelines of a sitting of the National House of Traditional Leaders in parliament, opened by Zuma, traditional leaders expressed anger at the decision to withdraw the bill from parliamentary consideration.

Staunch traditionalist and Khayelitsha medical doctor Manduleli Bikitsha said the ANC had to speak the language of traditional leaders.

"This bill is the cornerstone [of restoring] our dignity and the ANC needs to challenge its opponents," he said.

"It does not show the respect that one wants to bring to African leadership."

In his speech, Zuma made no reference to the decision to drop the bill, which was intended to give wide-ranging powers to tribal chiefs, including the right to order their subjects to perform forced labour under "tribal jurisdiction".

The proposed law also sought to give traditional leaders the power to strip their subjects of land rights.

Nkosi Thulasizwe Ngcobo, of the KwaZulu-Natal House of Traditional Leaders, said he was expecting a clarification from Zuma in the next two weeks.

"Maybe we'll be clear [on what is to happen] by March 12, when there have been inputs from traditional leaders on the president's speech," said Ngcobo.

He said many traditional leaders wanted to be involved in municipal development projects because councillors "confuse us".

Zuma, in his opening speech, commended traditional leaders for being "in the trenches" with the ANC during the liberation struggle.

Though making no mention of the Traditional Courts Bill, he said the government would find ways of ensuring the participation of chiefs in the land reform programme.

Zuma said tourism had been identified as one of the sectors that could create jobs and promote income-generation in small towns .

"The institution of traditional leadership is a major role player and contributor to the growth of the cultural tourism industry," said Zuma.

"We have a lot to showcase, from cultural events to showing the way of life of various communities."