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House of traditional leaders

Mixed reaction to traditional affairs plan
Sipho Khumalo
June 08 2007 at 10:31AM
The move by the national cabinet to approve the proposal for the establishment of a national department of traditional affairs has been welcomed by many in KwaZulu-Natal, but is viewed with suspicion by the DA.

It was reported on Thursday that the cabinet had approved a proposal by the Minister of Provincial and Local Government, Sydney Mufamadi, for the creation of the traditional affairs department at an estimated cost of R135-million a year.

The objective of the department, said Mufamadi's office, was to give "traditional leaders a more structured engagement with the government".

IFP MP Hulumeni Gumede said his party had always advocated such a move.

'KwaZulu-Natal has a largest number of traditional leaders in the country'

"A full portfolio of traditional affairs will show that amakhosi are also important. We are happy about this move and hope that the minister to head such a department will be an inkhosi," said Gumede.

Hawu Mbatha, of Nadeco, also said it was a good move, pointing out that KwaZulu-Natal already had a fully-fledged department.

"It actually creates a lot of synergy and streamlining. It means our MEC (Mike Mabuyakhulu) is going to have someone to link with on traditional issues at national level. This is now not going to be a piecemeal matter, but it is going to be a countrywide matter," he said.

The DA leader in the provincial legislature, Roger Burrows, was suspicious, suggesting that the idea was to allow the ANC to put more pressure on traditional leaders.

"The ANC is capitalising on the successes in KwaZulu-Natal, where it is utilising the Department of Traditional Affairs to have amakhosi installed by his majesty, the king (Zwelithini). This has created a significant opening for the ANC into conservative rural areas, where it was previously denied access.

"I am sure with this new department, the ANC activity of putting pressure on traditional leaders would be reflected in the rest of the country. This constituency has been previously ignored," said Burrows.

KwaZulu-Natal has a largest number of traditional leaders in the country, more than 300.


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