17 March 2013

South Africa: Traditional Courts Bill ? Time for ANC to Decide

press release

The Sunday Times report that the ANC is considering withdrawing the Traditional Courts Bill still leaves more questions than answers.

The Department of Justice and Constitutional Development is apparently unaware of this latest development, which brings into question whether it will be in fact be withdrawn or whether it will just be revised.

The DA welcomes the report that the ANC is clearly considering the Bill, which appears not to have been the case until now. Most women Cabinet Ministers did not utter a word when it was approved by Cabinet before it was introduced into Parliament; yet now seem very vociferous on the matter.

The DA also welcomes the reported comments by Chief Mwelo Nonkonyana, who now seems open to discussion on offensive clauses in the Bill. The DA has always maintained that traditional leaders have an important role in the traditional communities, but that this role cannot be in conflict with the Constitution and Bill of Rights.

It is not only issues relating to women that are problematic. The DA has highlighted our concerns in a press conference in May last year. We will not support the Bill unless all these issues are addressed satisfactorily.

It is time for the ANC to clarify their position on this Bill instead of trying to appease the various factions and interests within the tripartite alliance.

Debbie Schafer, Shadow Deputy Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development

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