SADC Traditional Leaders Seek Unity

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By Surihe Gaomas WINDHOEK The Council of Traditional Leaders in Namibia is set to become a member of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Regional House of Traditional Leaders, to be launched this year. This latest development comes after Cabinet approved the move early this month. The Council of Traditional Leaders was also given the mandate by Cabinet to nominate members to attend the launching of the SADC and continental house of traditional leaders soon. It was at a seminar on Human Rights for Traditional Leaders held in Manzini, Swaziland in July this year that traditional leaders from eight SADC member countries, including Namibia, resolved to officially launch the SADC Regional House of Traditional Leaders before the end of this year. It is against this backdrop that a meeting of chairpersons and deputy chairpersons of SADC regional traditional leaders was held in Pretoria, South Africa early this month. The aim of the meeting was to establish a steering committee for the launching of the SADC Regional House of Traditional Leaders and also to decide upon the actual date of launching. In May last year though, the chairperson of the National House of Traditional Leaders of South Africa briefed his Namibian counterpart on the proposed establishment of a continental house of traditional leaders. The same topic was also under discussion at the concluded 9th Annual Meeting of the Council of Traditional Leaders in Namibia that was held in the capital last week. At the closing last Friday, Chairperson of the National House of Traditional Leaders of South Africa, Kgosi Kutuma, said that a number of African countries have welcomed the idea of a continental body of traditional leaders that would take them to much higher level regionally. Amongst the objectives of the continental house is to bring about unity of purpose amongst African traditional leaders. The other objectives include assisting each other in the promotion and sustenance of African cultures, leadership and languages as well as the promotion and protection of human rights. The envisaged continental house will consider and work on other African Diaspora programmes in line with the New Partnership for African Development (NEPAD), the African Union (AU), and other regional structures. Addressing the over 80 traditional leaders last week, Kutuma explained that traditional leaders will be involved in the development of rural communities, promotion of inter-country visits, knowledge sharing and networking. Improving health and eradicating poverty will also be one of the continental house’s main priorities as well as working towards the realisation of the “African dream and African renaissance”. In view of all these objectives Kutuma called for regional cooperation amongst all traditional leaders. “We need to have a meeting with delegates from all over the Southern African Development Community region as a matter of urgency. “The meeting must address, among others, the constitution, the seat of the house, membership, finances and the process of establishing such a continental house of traditional leaders,” explained Kutuma. Besides Namibia, other SADC countries supporting this initiative are Zambia, Cameroon, Lesotho and Botswana. Audience is still be sought with countries such as Malawi, Swaziland, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Angola, Tanzania, Mozambique, Madagascar and Mauritius.