NW Traditional election cancellation requires change

Chris Hattingh MPL

DA Leader in the North West

The cancelation of the long overdue North West Traditional Authority elections scheduled for Saturday, 6th July 2013, less than 24 hours before the opening of the ballot boxes, is indicative of the contempt with which the North West Provincial Government regards traditional communities.

The DA does not believe the North West Provincial Government has the capacity or political will to manage Traditional Authority elections and will request that the National Department of Cooperative Government and Traditional Affairs, in cooperation with the IEC, conduct these elections.

The cancelation of the elections followed the earlier withdrawal of the IEC from the elections due to the non-cooperation of the North West Department of Local Government and Traditional Affairs.

During her State of the Province Address, presumably ceding to pressures from the traditional communities, Premier Thandi Modise announced that “by end of March 2013, the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) will conduct elections for traditional councils we hope this will bring stability to this institution”. The Premier later announced in a response to a DA question that the date was changed to the end of May and then again to the 6th July2013.

The relationship between the North West Provincial Government (NWPG) and North West Traditional Authorities has been the focus point of running disputes for many years.

Several of these disputes resulted in Supreme Court cases with most judgments going against the NWPG. In addition the Auditor General (AG) recently told the NW SCOPA that the finances of NW Traditional Authorities have never been audited because of the non-availability of financial statements. The NW Traditional Leadership and Governance Act’s require that it be audited annually.

A similar situation exists with the NW Traditional Authority Trust Accounts managed by the NWPG.

The DA trusts that a different model of running these elections will be considered for the sake of a constructive relationship between government and traditional authorities.