Traditional leaders have added their voice to the project aimed at ending gender-based violence (GBV), as championed by the Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly (NA), Mr Lechesa Tsenoli, and the Deputy Chairperson of the National Council of Provinces (NCOP), Ms Sylvia Lucas.

Traditional leaders met in various provinces to launch the Traditional Leaders Men’s Sector. In the Western Cape, they met in Parliament. Chief Vuyile Galada, the Chairperson of the Western Cape Traditional Community, told delegates that traditional leaders must not hide behind culture when abuse occurs.

 “It is important for traditional leaders to show that they care and that they are part and parcel of the men’s sector and act against gender abuse. Traditional leaders like to hide using culture when perpetrators abuse women and children. Not in our name as traditional leaders,” he stressed.

The event was attended by, among others, the king of the Nama royal house, Handri Khomo; the Chairperson of the Men’s Sector, Mr Zolani Barnes; as well as representatives from the Department of Correctional Services; the Networking HIV, AIDS Community of South Africa (Nacosa); the Speaker of the Western Cape Legislature; and various other chiefs.

In welcoming delegates, Chief Thandisizwe Sigcau, said the time for complicated strategies is long gone. “Traditional leaders did not do enough to prevent the killings in this country. We should debate productively and put differences aside to fulfil the purpose of this joint-sitting,” he said.

Chief Galada implored delegates to not simply claim that they are excluded, but take a stand and involve themselves in community initiatives like vaccination and minding the health of society. “We lead communities and we should involve ourselves with community struggles. We have to form relationships with other sectors, like health, and actually lead.

The two-day sitting was intended to provide a platform for traditional leaders to get involved in the fight against GBV. Traditional leaders were also briefed on the work and distance the Men’s Parliament has already travelled since formation.

Mr Barnes told the delegates that the Traditional Leaders Men’s Sector forum needs to make momentum and move things as amadoda. “We challenge traditional leaders to stand up. Your voice needs to be louder than actually it is. Your steps need to be stronger than they currently are.”

He said the solutions sat with each of the men present at the gathering. “You know you hold power within your communities. We want men that can be accountable. We want communities that create conditions that make men know that they are accountable. Let us be those good men. Traditional leadership is a cornerstone of who we are. Let us be intentional about what we are going to do from today onwards.”

Sibongile Maputi
22 November 2021