, 2022-08-02 14:22:25,
That South Africa is navigating an economic tempest is by now plain for all to see. The winds battering our nation’s sails include, but are not limited to, low economic growth, high unemployment, inequality, rising inflation, as well as an energy crisis.
These are tough times, indeed.
There are arguably fewer regions of the country where the full measure of the current challenges can be observed as it can in KwaZulu-Natal. From the onset of Covid-19 and the lockdown battering one of the provincial economy’s mainstay sectors, tourism, to the unrest of July 2021.
And just as the province was clawing its way out of those troubles, catastrophic floods in April this year wrought untold devastation whose full human life, humanitarian and economic impact is still being tallied, months later.
In times like these, it’s easy and perhaps tempting to throw our arms up in despair or helplessly wallow in our misery. It’s just as easy to take to the commentary box and merely amplify the critical, cynical or disillusioned voice. There is no “right” human response to crises that we experience as a collective, but whose full impact we feel and deal with individually, and I do not purport to prescribe one in this contribution.
It is however possible, and arguably more helpful, for all of us to put our shoulders to the wheel in responding to these vexing challenges of our time. If there has ever been a time that calls for engagement, active citizenry and leadership from everyone in our own spaces and spheres of influence, that time is now.
Reimagining the role of traditional leadership
In this environment, the institution of traditional leadership cannot and must not stand on the sidelines, emerging only to sound the occasional lament about the poor material conditions of the people we lead and our marginal or diminishing influence in governance.
This is so because traditional leadership in this country draws its legitimacy from its connectedness to the people’s sense of community, history, and notions such as the identity, heritage and roots of many South Africans as these concepts find expression in a dynamic, values and rights-based modern democracy.
Simply put, in this period of great social flux, the time is ripe to reimagine traditional leadership’s role in the country, by re-centring the institution at the heart of communities and their economic and social development, as well as taking a lead role in seeking solutions to the crises ravaging our…
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