Date: Jan 17, 2017

This Wednesday on Special Assignment at 21:30

Twenty-two years after democracy, there is still uncertainty about the status of traditional leadership in South Africa. So far, it has been characterized by bitter disputes over the kingship and in some communities the chieftaincy and some have even questioned their relevance in a constitutional democracy.

In this episode of Special Assignment we explore this matter through a look at how the bitter disputes over leadership affect the progress of some communities in the country. According to the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, currently 12 High Court cases have been lodged by disgruntled communities in several provinces challenging The Commission for Traditional Disputes and Claims’ recommendations on their leaderships.  

This programme looks closely at the traditional leadership dispute among the 70,000 strong community of Maboloka, a village in the North West Province. The dispute arose out of the politically-discredited Bophuthatswana Homeland and has spilled over into the new South Africa, where the Tsajoa and the Lion families are engaged in a bitter fight.

After the death of Chief David Mohau Lion in 2008, David Tsajoa approached the Commission for Traditional Disputes and Claims for chieftaincy away from the Lion family. The commission determined that the rightful leader of Maboloka was David Tsajoa, whose father Philemon was reportedly deposed for antagonizing the repressive Lucas Mangope regime. The commission recommended that the North West Premier remove the Lion clan from leadership and install the Tsajoas in their place. 

The Lion family took the matter under review and was reinstated but subsequent to this a series of court cases were lodged. In December 2016 the Mafikeng High Court ruling ruled that leadership must revert to the Tsajoas. The Lions intend to appeal this ruling up to the Constitutional court. The leadership crisis in Maboloka has divided the community and has stalled service delivery. According to the municipality the traditional authority is currently under the leadership of the Lion Royal Family. Chief Lion however, blames the Madibeng Municipality for service delivery failures. This and other matters are at the heart of the dissatisfaction of traditional leaders who say that under the ANC-led government they have no power. As a result, the Congress of Traditional Leaders recently threatened to cut ties with the ANC and form its own political party - a matter which has serious implications if followed through.

Why has the government failed to resolve ongoing leadership disputes in some of South Africa’s traditional communities and what role can traditional leadership play within a constitutional democracy?

Watch Homeland, produced by Frank Ferro, on Special Assignment. Wednesdays at 21:30 on SABC3.


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