We haven't heard anything about the controversial Traditional Courts Bill for almost a year. Yet suddenly, there it was again: scheduled to be discussed clause by clause by the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) on Tuesday.
It's believed that President Jacob Zuma hoped to hustle the bill through before next year's elections as a sop to traditional leaders. But in a slap to the face for the ANC, the majority of the provinces have firmly rejected the bill. If you think this means the bill's been binned, though, think again.
When the Traditional Courts Bill was reintroduced for public consultation last September, it was strongly suspected that the timing wasn't coincidental: that the idea may have been to keep traditional leaders on side in the run-up to Mangaung.
There are good reasons for traditional leaders to be itching for the bill to be passed as soon as possible. As we noted last year, the bill would give traditional leaders exceptional powers to make and enforce laws, and there would be no option for rural people to choose to access justice from a magistrate's court instead.
Similarly, the reappearance of the bill now inevitably prompts questions about whether...