Chapter 12

Traditional Leaders

This chapter deals with traditional leaders and their role in our democracy. The role and status of traditional leadership according to customary law are recognised. It allows for traditional authorities to function within the framework of the country’s legal system.

The Constitution establishes a National Council of Traditional Leaders and Provincial Councils of Traditional Leaders. These councils allow traditional leaders to play an advisory role in matters relating to traditional leaders and customary law in national and provincial governments.

This chapter also serves as recognition of African customary law as part of the law of South Africa. The chapter states that the courts can apply customary law in appropriate cases as long as that customary law is consistent with the Constitution.


Audio Visual

President Mandela gives his State of the Nation address in Parliament. Mandela ends his address with the words, “Let us all get down to work”.

“We must construct that people-centred society of freedom in such a manner that it guarantees the political and the human rights of all our citizens.”– President Mandela, extract from State of the Nation Address, 24 May 1994

President Nelson Mandela announces his cabinet. It includes members of the African National Congress, National Party and Inkatha Freedom Party.

“There was pride in serving in the first democratic government in South Africa, and then the additional pride of serving under the iconic leadership of Nelson Mandela … [He] represented the hopes of not just our country, but of oppressed, marginalised and the poor in the world.”– Jay Naidoo, then Minister of RDP housing
“We place our vision of a new constitutional order for South Africa on the table not as conquerors, prescribing to the conquered. We speak as fellow citizens to heal the wounds of the past with the intent of constructing a new order based on justice for all.”– President Nelson Mandela, 10 May 1994