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Traditional authorities and cultural leaders

Traditional authorities and cultural leaders play an important role in South Africa.

Traditional authorities and cultural leaders  are seen by their communities as leaders through and by the people.

Research done in the Province of the North West, the Northern Province and the Province of KwaZulu-Natal illustrates that in many of the communities in which traditional leaders serve they are regarded as leaders and they are also seen as symbols of unity in the community. The idea that the system of traditional leadership may be abolished was met by fierce resistance. Traditional leaders are recognised in terms of section 211 of the 1996 Constitution. The Constitution also recognises the possibility that national and provincial legislation may provide a role fo r traditional leaders at national, provincial and local level.

Traditional communities resent interference in their own affairs without them being consulted. In some respects rural women fe lt that they are not part of the decision-making process and that in some instances they are not allocated land. They, however, express the need to be consulted before any changes to their position is made. Traditional leaders have an important role to play in development at grassroots level. Traditional communities themselves need to be consulted when development is planned and a proper mechanism should be implemented to ensure that rural communities also benefit from rural development schemes.