c) Changing – for better or for worse
The institution of traditional leadership is considered an organ of state , which implies that they therefore have to comply with the Constitution. This entails that “certain customs will have to change and certain specific customary powers are now superseded or limited.” Yet, there seems to be a trend of throwing out the baby with the bathwater when we attempt to modernise customary law and traditional leadership. The recent laws that were introduced with regards to traditional leadership introduces a fair amount of stiffness, rather then allowing for the active development of traditional leadership. Two of these new laws that are at the centre of the government’s attempts to align traditional leadership with our new democratic values is the Traditional Leadership and Governance Framework Act and the Communal Land Rights Act . These Acts remain a challenging predicament, as they do not allow or provide for the transformation of traditional leadership to serve the new democracy.
CHAPTER 6 – SECURING THE FUTURE
a) The future of Traditional Leadership and the responsibility of securing it
In accordance with the traditional way of life, people are custodians of traditions and customs. Historically, these customs were not written down, but passed down from generation to generation, by word of mouth and mostly incorporated in stories told by the elders. Traditional leaders have an enormous role to play in being custodians of these customs and traditions, as they play an important role in the lives of the members of their communities.
Even though traditional leadership has faced many challenges, almost certainly the most important and testing challenge they face, is their vulnerable relationship with the government. This relationship needs to be healthy and strong, based on trust, mutual understanding and co-operation. However this relationship in addition, not only needs to be maintained on a national level, but also on a provincial and local level. If traditional leaders disregard these relationships, it would have direct impact on their communities who are dependant on the services and protection of these additional levels of government.
In order for traditional leadership to secure the future of their rights, customs, traditions, role and status, it is important for them to adapt to the new democratic governance. They should aim to integrate into, rather then separate themselves from the system. This however, does not entail them having to sacrifice what they believe in, their customs or traditions in order to be accepted or tolerated. Traditional leadership should instead aspire to influence others in such a way as to make them appreciate the value of traditional leadership and aid them in understanding the importance thereof. A Sotho legal maxim expresses this aspiration beautifully:- “Motho ke botho ka batho – A person is a person in relation to other people.” This maxim...