Cyril Ramaphosa wants women to be included in traditional decision-making

19 February 2019 - 17:00 By THABO MOKONE
President Cyril Ramaphosa. File picture.
President Cyril Ramaphosa. File picture.
Image: Gallo Images

President Cyril Ramaphosa has called for "equitable representation" of women in decision-making bodies within traditional leadership systems.

Addressing a sitting of the national house of traditional leaders taking place in parliament, Ramaphosa appealed to traditional leaders to ensure that women were "thoroughly consulted" in the drafting of laws affecting those living in rural communities steeped in customary practices.

"We work to ensure women's equitable representation in decision-making bodies in traditional communities and ensure that women are thoroughly consulted in the making of the law for customary communities," said Ramaphosa.

The traditional leadership system - in particular, traditional courts - has long been criticised as discriminatory and unfair to rural women in that it did not allow for women to represent themselves or become members of the courts.

Ramaphosa made the remarks as parliament is currently discussing the traditional courts bill for the umpteenth time and many were disappointed last year when the ANC-dominated justice portfolio committee dropped the "opt-out clause" which provided for women to have a right not to take part in traditional courts.

Parliament is yet to finalise the bill.

The president then challenged traditional leaders to play their part in halting deaths of young boys at initiation schools.

"This ancient rite of passage should never become synonymous with death and serious injury to young men of our country. We must bring this to an end and this is why I'm appealing to traditional leaders to play a critical role.

"The deaths of young men who go through this passage should pain all of us because these are needless deaths. There's no reason why a young man who still has their life ahead of them, goes through initiation and comes out as a corpse. This is something that we must get on top of and stop with immediate effect," said Ramaphosa.

Scores of young men die across the country as a result of botched circumcisions at initiation schools, particularly in the largely rural provinces of the Eastern Cape, Mpumalanga and the North West.

Ramaphosa said he was hoping parliament would fast-track the processing of the customary initiation bill.

The proposed piece of law, among others,  prescribes that no boy under the age of 16 can undergo initiation and also advises on sanctions in instances where there is non-compliance.

"I look forward to the finalisation of all the parliamentary processes so that the bill can be passed into law. It's anticipated that once the bill is passed into law, it will assist greatly in bringing to an end the deaths of all these young men."

Touching on revelations coming out of the state capture commission and other similar inquiries, Ramaphosa also told traditional leaders that they too were expected to "be above reproach".