Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang last week took a swipe at what she called a "colonial attitude" towards traditional healers.
Tshabalala-Msimang said: "People who practised traditional medicine were labelled as wizards while the practice itself was described as uncivilised and barbaric.
"This colonial attitude towards traditional medicine continues today and is being championed by some groups who demand that the government bans the use of traditional medicine."
Tshabalala-Msimang was speaking during the African Traditional Medicine Day celebrations in Sekhukhune, Limpopo.
She said traditional medicine had sustained the health of many people for years and the government would ensure it was developed and awarded the recognition it deserved.
"We cannot go on pretending that African traditional medicine does not exist when in fact 80percent of people throughout the continent use these medicines in dealing with diseases and other health challenges," she said.
She said her department was "at the forefront of facilitating the process that would ultimately ensure traditional medicine was institutionalised".
She said the Traditional Health Practitioners Bill, which had undergone rigorous public scrutiny and participation, was probably the biggest milestone she expected to reach soon.
She said, once adopted and signed into law, this piece of legislation would lead to the setting up of the traditional health practitioners council.