Thu Oct 27 08:55:40 SAST 2016

Women's movement welcomes female chief

By unknown | Jun 12, 2008 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

Khanyisile Nkosi

Khanyisile Nkosi

Baleka Mbete, the speaker of parliament has backed the constitutional court's ruling that Lwandlamuni Felia Nwamitwa-Shiluvhana is the Valoyi clan's rightful chief.

Mbete, who is also the convener of the Progressive Women's Movement of South Africa (PWMSA), said the ruling demonstrated the progress that the country has made in implementing the Constitution, particularly the right to equality.

The constitutional court last week ruled that 66-year-old Nwamitwa-Shiluvhana had the right to succeed her father despite her cousin's claim that he was the rightful heir.

Nwamitwa-Shiluvhana could not succeed her father because tribal laws prevent women from becoming chiefs.

The matter was taken to the court where NwamitwaShiluvhana argued that women should not be discriminated against because of their gender.

The court ruled that while tribal laws had a place in society, they should be in accordance with the rights enshrined in the Constitution.

Mbete said: "We are heartened by the ruling. Chief Nwamitwa-Shiluvhana has always had our encouragement and support in her battle.

"We met her in 2007 and she had our unreserved support to continue pursuing the matter in the courts.

"We never doubted the legitimacy of her chieftainship and we congratulate her and her clan on their victory.

"The ruling exemplifies aspects of PWMSA's founding statement - to strive for the removal of all laws, regulations, conventions and customs that discriminate against us as women and deprive us in any way of our inherent right to the advantages, responsibilities and opportunities that society offers to any one section of the population.

"We are also committed to the advancement and empowerment of women in order to achieve gender equality in economic, social, political, cultural and personal dimensions."

Mbete said the PWMSA was also pleased with the support traditional authorities had given Nwamitwa-Shiluvhana during her court battle.

"In fact, it was the traditional authorities of the Valoyi community that identified her as successor and supported her throughout," she said.

"The PWMSA wants to assure those who are unhappy with the ruling on the basis of Chief Tinyiko's gender, that there is nothing un-African about a female chief."


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