Traditional leadership still a factor

King Misuzulu. Picture: Sibonelo Ngcobo/ Independent Newspapers

King Misuzulu. Picture: Sibonelo Ngcobo/ Independent Newspapers

Published May 26, 2024


Durban — Will the divisions that played out in the traditional leadership space when King Misuzulu kaZwelithini called a meeting of amakhosi to discuss the issue of land have any impact on how people vote on Wednesday?

That is the question on the minds of some following the meeting in Ulundi at which the king vowed to fight till the bitter end to protect land that is under the Ingonyama Trust.

The absence of KwaZulu-Natal House of Traditional and Khoisan Leaders chairperson Inkosi Sifiso Shinga at the meeting raised questions about the unity of the institution and whether it will hold sway in the elections.

Several amakhosi who spoke to the Sunday Tribune said they wanted people to go out in numbers to vote for the parties of their choice.

Inkosi Nhlakanipho Maphumulo from uMgungundlovu District House of Traditional Leaders said it was important for people to express their preferences through the ballot.

“People must make their choice and make it very clear in line with their democratic right to choose whichever party they want to be led by,” he said.

Inkosi Ngqayizivele Sithole from Estcourt also called on people to make their mark.

“This is the only way that people can take ownership of government, and that is by voting for it themselves,” said Sithole.

University of KwaZulu-Natal academic and analyst Professor Sihawukele Ngubane noted that while traditional leadership had played a crucial role in the past, there were questions over the recognition granted to the institution.

“Section 14 of the Constitution recognises traditional leaders and the institution of traditional leadership. However, that recognition has shortcomings in that they do not take decisions, and in some instances in spheres like local government councillors have more power than traditional leaders,” said Ngubane.

There have been suggestions that, given the treatment of the institution of traditional leadership, some parties may emerge and make promises of improving conditions for traditional leaders, but Ngubane believed this would be an election ploy.

He said that amakhosi, because they were custodians of the nation’s values, still wielded a lot of influence.

“The land on which the development takes place is under the custody of amakhosi, so you can see that they are very important when you look at our history and the present. Because of the role they played in the past that is why in some instances there are calls for better recognition,” said Ngubane.

Over the past few days political parties in KZN, such as the ANC, IFP and uMkhonto weSizwe Party, have been punting the importance of traditional leadership in the history of liberation and issues of development.

“Amakhosi are at the coalface of values and are the cultural custodians, but judging by how things have gone in the past, the institution will be much the same as it has been over the past years,” Ngubane said.

Sunday Tribune