South Sudanese Traditional Leaders Tour - Day One

Day 1: 18th August 2006
Pretoria, South Africa

The traditional leaders tour of three African Countries, The Republic of South Africa, Botswana and Ghana, kicked off today in Pretoria, South Africa. The Sudanese delegation is composed of two Kings, two Princes, Chiefs and a representative from the Government of Southern Sudan’s Ministry of Local Government. These traditional leaders represent Southern Sudan, Abyei and the Nuba Mountains.

The tour began with a visit to the National House of Traditional Leaders (NHOTL). The National House of Traditional Leaders is housed in the Department of Local Government in Pretoria. This house is composed of eighteen traditional leaders who represent six out of the nine provinces in South Africa. Three provinces do not have representatives as they do not have traditional leaders.

At the National House of Traditional Leaders, the Sudanese delegation was welcomed and briefed by Mr. Zam Titus, the Special Advisor to the Minister of Local Government and Provincial Affairs. Mr. Titus explained the governance system in South Africa, and how the traditional leaders fit into the greater scheme of the governance system. He also briefed the delegation on the government’s new legislation and policies on traditional leadership. He also pointed out the laws that apply to traditional leadership in South Africa.

The Chairperson of the NHOTL, Khosi Kutama, made a presentation on traditional leadership in South Africa. He gave a historical perspective on how the institution of traditional leadership came to be formalized in the governance system of South Africa.

The delegation was also addressed by the Chief Executive Officer of the NHOTL, Mr Sithole. In his address, Mr Sithole pointed out the roles, responsibilities and functions of the NHOTL. He described the functions of the house and also explained the four levels of traditional institutions in South Africa. He also went on to discuss the work of the six house committees and the process of budgeting.

The General Secretary of the Congress of Traditional Leaders in South Africa (CONTRALESA), Nkosi Mwelo Nonkonyana made a presentation on “the role of the organization of traditional leaders in enhancing democracy in Africa”. He spoke about the struggle that the traditional leaders in South Africa undertook to ensure that they were formally recognized by the government. Nkosi Mwelo, who is a traditional leader as well as a parliamentarian, stressed that it was necessary for African governments to complement the principles of traditional African leadership with those of western democratic principles. He cautioned against focusing too much on western political philosophy at the expense of African political philosophy.

Professor Guma, a South African traditional healer, spoke on the importance of our African value systems. He warned that as African, we have to stop focusing too much on the religions that were imported by the Europeans and the Arabs. He said that African religions are rich and their value systems were important to keeping our cultures. He stressed traditional leaders were key for the process of re-Africanization of African minds.

At the end of the day, the Sudanese delegation thanked the traditional leaders and the Government of South Africa for the warm welcome accorded to them. They expressed their wish that the process of interaction between them and their South African counterparts continue. They also expressed their support for the African Renaissance and for the bid of the South Africans to have a continental house of traditional leaders alongside the African Union.

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