|2012 06 05 Traditional Courts Bill is out of step|
While it is encouraging that the Traditional Courts Bill is meeting stiff opposition, more needs to be done to ensure that this anachronistic piece of proposed legislation never sees the light of day.
In a nutshell the Bill is out of synch with the human rights enshrined in the constitution. It would compel at least 17 million South Africans to live under medieval rules at the whim of unelected traditional leaders.
The sexism and patriarchy espoused in the Bill are in keeping with polygamist Jacob Zuma's world view.
Indeed passage of the Bill would bolster his re-election chances by entrenching his grip on the rural vote.
Some of the provisions negatively affect women in particular, reflecting the lower status of women in traditional societies. But all rural folk stand to lose the rights they would have in the mainstream legal system.
For example, they would not be allowed to decide whether their case should be heard in a traditional forum or in a normal court.
They would have no right to appeal, in the conventional sense, against any decision by the traditional authority.
That would include any sentence imposed. Even worse, if a conventional court has imposed a sentence, traditional leaders would be entitled to order further punishment, without having their authority to do so challenged.
Merely by being born into an ethnic group, South Africans would lose rights such as that to legal representation.
Women could be told that, merely because of their gender, their arguments cannot be heard, as to allow this would "make women disrespectful" to their husbands.
Traditional leaders are a drain on the fiscus.
They must not be allowed to suck the lifeblood out of our democracy.