Chiefs want more power

Traditional leaders in the Eastern Cape want more money and power. They also want a 13th cheque and for the powers of premier Phumulo Masualle and future Eastern Cape premiers to be clipped on traditional matters.

The Treasury has reprioritised R1 billion in the national budget to soften the blow of the recent drought on the agriculture sector and consumers.

This emerged during public hearings for comments on the provincial amended Traditional Leadership and Governance Bill, which was passed by the Bhisho legislature last Thursday.

Royals across the province told the portfolio committee on cooperative governance and traditional affairs (Cogta) that 2017 was the year they should get salary increases and travel allowances.

Contacted for comment on Friday, Cogta spokesman Mamkeli Ngam said he would only be able to provide information on how much traditional leaders currently earned today.

However, the Daily Dispatch previously reported that headmen and women in the province are paid R90 320 a year, chiefs R179 000 and the three kings R973 350.

Ngam could also not say what increases they wanted.

The bill, now only awaiting Masualle’s signature to become law, contains several amendments which would reduce the premier’s powers on deciding on traditional affairs.

If signed, the premier’s powers will be limited to just endorsing recommendations put forward by traditional councils in the affected communities.

In addition, should he sign the bill that has already been passed by the legislature, Masualle will no longer be able to “summon” a traditional leader to appear before him.

Rather, according to the amended section 33 of the bill, the premier, who is currently empowered to summon a royal, will instead have to “engage” and “require” a meeting with a traditional leader in order to look into:

  • Any matter which is harming or likely to harm a traditional community;
  • Any matter of importance which directly or indirectly affects a traditional leader in his or her capacity; and
  • Any other matter likely to prejudicially affect the administration of the provincial government in the area of the traditional community.

According to the amended bill, the premier can no longer consult only with the relevant community in the case of an application to be recognised as a traditional community.

Now, the premier will have to include the king or queen under whose authority the community falls.

Traditional leaders also believe the premier “cannot take decisions” on traditional matters since “he is not of royal blood”.

ANC MPL Michael Peter said they supported the amended bill because it was “clear in defining powers and functions for structures” that exist within traditional communities.

Said Peter: “This is the reason behind our support of this bill, because the relationship between ANC and traditional institutions is not an accident of history. It evolved over a period.

“As ANC we continue to salute our kings, and we respect our chiefs in their respective areas for one reason, that it was the wisdom, the influence, and the militancy of their forefathers who worked hard for the formation of the ANC as a parliament of the people against what they saw as the institutionalisation of colonialism by our colonisers at the time.”

The DA’s Nosimo Balindlela said her party supported that traditional leaders should be paid fairly and called on Cogta to attend to the matter “urgently”.

Balindlela said: “Traditional leaders must be remunerated fairly and equitably but we need to make sure that we get value for money as they too must be closely monitored, including that communities must be able to hold them accountable.”

Traditional leaders, in the bill, have moved to distance themselves from political parties that try to use traditional council platforms and resources to further their support.

The amended section 8 sub-section 4 reads: “A traditional council and its resources must not be used to promote or prejudice the interest of any political party.”

Other issues raised by traditional leaders during the public hearings by Cogta included that:

lCriminal records for sentences below 12 months must be expunged to allow traditional leaders to rise to the positions of leadership; and

lCouncillors must work with traditional leaders, not the other way round, meaning authority must be given to traditional leaders not councillors. — zingisam@dispatch.co.za

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