By Gary Hatigeva
THE Tandai House of Chiefs has come out in strong support for the introduction of the Traditional Governance and Customs Facilitation Bill 2018 and calls for it to allow the continuation of practice in various tribal and traditional customary rights.
Speaking during day two of the Bills and Legislation Committee (BLC) hearing on the TG Bill, Paramount Chief for the Tandai House of Chiefs, Charles Chilivi Keku who was part of a two men delegation, stressed that the intentions to empower the chiefs and traditional leaders of this country is a very good thing which they fully support.
He said though complicated in most of its aspects, the bill is something that will see a proper structure, which clarifies who people should deal with when trying to make arrangements with tribes or groups within certain house of chiefs or groups in terms of various development aspects.
He added that with the support they have, their people are however hoping to see clauses designed within the bill that even if it is passed and gazetted, will still pave ways for those involved in the system to exercise their customary rights.
“Because anything that excludes such will not go down well with us and we are sure speaking for many other customs.
“And in my view on this bill, let me say that our case in the Tandai, we live in a place that is different from the other provinces, and so in the suggestion for the clauses, we need to see this very important because our customs and traditions are not the same,” the Tandai Paramount Chief expressed.
But, when speaking on this preservation of traditional norms, protocols, values and practices, Chief Keku stressed that the Tandai House of Chiefs is of the view that it is a positive intention for them to be kept under this new institution using technology for future generations.
Meanwhile, the Guadalcanal Deputy Premier Peter Araonisaka who was a member of the two men delegation, shared that the provincial executive agrees with the Chief Keku’s sentiments, but thought there is need for more consultations to be done with Chiefs and Traditional Leaders throughout the country.
“Remember, some do have strong programs to preserve and look after their customary rights are not something easy to do, and so there is need for more consultations on that particular subject matter because to codify these customs and traditional secrecy is very sensitive.
However, officials familiar with the bill shared on the codification section, agreed that certain customary practices are taboo hence should not be written or disclosed while others may well can.
They explained that the proposed bill therefore only provides a legal framework that allows for tribes or groups to deal with these questions as and when they are ready through a structure which they too will participate in.
They added that even the question of whether customary law and practices should be written at all or not is not decided in the bill.
“Therefore, this approach again conforms to the Constitution but importantly upholds the sanctity of customary law and practices and the fact that customary law only applies in given jurisdictions and cannot be tailored for the whole country”.
“The actual work on putting together customs and practices for each tribe, clan or group will be done by the people and the Tribal Chiefs, Traditional leaders and their respective Houses of Chiefs with the assistance of the Secretariat.
“Schedule 3 of the Constitution also clarifies on this point that customary law cannot apply if it is inconsistent with any existing law and therefore the role being proposed for the Codification committee is important as it will ensure consistency between customary laws and practices and written law,” officials explained.