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Address by Deputy President David Mabuza at the National General Council of the Congress of Traditional Leaders of South Africa, Sandton, Johannesburg

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Programme Director,
President of CONTRALESA, Kgoshi Mathupa Mokoena,
Deputy President, Kgosi Nyalala Pilane,
General Secretary of CONTRALESA, Inkosi Zolani Mkiva,
Chairperson of the National House of Traditional and Khoi-San Leaders, Her Majesty Nkosikazi Mhlauli,
Leadership of CONTRALESA,
Ministers and Deputy Ministers,
Members of Parliament,
Your Majesties and Royal Highnesses,

Esteemed Delegates,

It is an honour and privilege to be accorded an opportunity meet and break bread with the esteemed leaders and members of the Congress of Traditional Leaders of South Africa. 

It has been more than three decades since the formation of CONTRALESA in 1987, and even today, you remain the an important institution that is an embodiment of our collective history, heritage, and a common sense of national identity as the people of this country. 

Delegates will recall that CONTRALESA was founded in response to the oppression imposed by the apartheid system on South Africa's Traditional Leaders.

The ANC’s constitutional guidelines of 1987 even stated, “The institution of traditional leadership shall be transformed to promote the democratic interests of the people”.

By restoring the dignity of our Traditional Leaders and their communities, who have been impacted by the segregation laws of the apartheid system for decades, CONTRALESA has played a key role in defending the rights of those who live in traditional communities.

The organisation became a component of the broad democratic movement that was fighting the unjust laws of apartheid.
Your efforts in the unification of South Africa under a common banner in which Traditional Leaders could work effectively with government to do away with separatism and to help South Africa become a democratic and free country can never be forgotten. 

Regarding CONTRALESA’s relationship with the ANC

Your contribution in the democratic mass movement was no different from that of the ANC. 

You were part of the collective that was fighting an enemy with the common goal of providing a voice to Traditional Leaders, and their communities, in order to create a unified democratic South Africa.

It is for this reasons that we have been able to forge a connection in our relationship that has lasted for years despite the upheavals that have threatened to tear us apart.

As the ANC, we expect your participation in all processes designed to address the needs and well-being of the communities you serve.

We appreciate you being be part of our government's efforts to address broader challenges confronting the Institution of Traditional Leadership.

As the Governing party, and our Alliance partners, we cannot operate in silos.

In this regard, we need a united CONTRALESA that will in turn contribute to the unity, and the renewal of the African National Congress.
As the ANC Government, in partnership with Traditional Leaders, it is our collective responsibility to strengthen our traditional communities, speak up for their needs and goals, build stronger social networks, and protect our people's cultural heritage.

That is why we have been engaging with Traditional Leaders on a regular basis, and involving you in our programmes so that you become part of broad forces working for liberation and transformation of our people.

As the ANC Government, we want to involve CONTRALESA in all our programmes to ensure that the Institution of Traditional Leadership, and its role is given due recognition. 

Moreover, we want the Institution of Traditional Leadership to participate in all democratic processes, and the development agenda of our country.

The ongoing engagements between the ANC and Traditional Leadership formations on efforts of resolving challenges that impede development in rural communities, have brought to the fore the need for a closer working relationship between government and the Institution of Traditional Leadership.

Challenges raised by Traditional Leaders

As Government, we are aware of several areas you have identified that still require our urgent attention. 

Some of these concern matters like the respect for and function of Traditional Leaders as established in Chapter 12 of the Republic of South Africa's Constitution.

Furthermore, these challenges include lack of socio-economic services, cultural infrastructure, and the provision of basic services in Traditional communities. Lack of access to clean water, electricity, agricultural support, and local economic development initiatives are at the core of the immediate needs of our traditional communities.

We must be the active participants in our endeavour to strengthen social compact and collaborative efforts between government, civil society, and inter-faith formations to fight against poverty, inequality, unemployment, social ills, diseases, killing of the traditional leaders, and underdevelopment, amongst others.

It is important that we continue to collaborate in order to find solutions to the numerous difficulties that continue to undermine our society's social fabric.

Our country is being besieged by the plague of Gender-Based Violence and Femicide.

As Government, we rely more on the support from the Institution of Traditional Leadership to address this plague. 

We rely on the support from the Institution of Traditional Leadership to foster our social cohesion efforts to unite our communities for a common goal.

Traditional leadership has a vital role to play in addressing the most fundamental issues affecting our communities since it is the institution that is closest to the people.

Together, we must work closely as partners to address obstacles that limit development in rural communities.

Progress in addressing the identified challenges

As governing party, we have made headways as part of ongoing efforts to address some of the challenges you have raised. 

In 2015, we established a National Task Team led by CoGTA Deputy Minister, which has been assigned the responsibilities of supporting the institution of traditional leadership, and the harmonisation of traditional and municipal structures at the local level. 

In addition, we convened the Indaba of Indigenous and Traditional Leaders from May 29 to June 2, 2017, followed by the Lekgotla of the National House of Traditional Leaders in 2018, to assess progress made since the Indaba of Traditional Leaders.

During these engagements you have highlighted the critical issues and concerns and the resolutions covered the among others,  the Communal Land currently held in trust, Spatial Planning and Land Use Management, Radical Economic Development and Traditional Communities, Social Cohesion and Nation Building.

Although we have since made progress in this area, we understand that there are still a number of challenges that need to be addressed in order to enhance development in each of your areas.

Concerning land tenure and administration difficulties, we are all aware that this has been a challenging matter for people. This topic was also discussed at this year's Communal Land Administration and Tenure Summit, which took place in May 2022.

The Summit was able to pass resolutions that will aid in the development of proper land reform legislation and policies. As soon as Cabinet accepts them, these resolutions will be moved forward and shared with you.

We will continue to endeavour to secure rural community growth and sustainability by establishing land rights and the transfer of ownership from the state to legitimate owners.

In addition, as part of land use and spatial development, we are partnering with Traditional Leaders to advance rural development through amongst others, targeted infrastructure investment for the benefit of communities. 

It is essential to prioritise land access as a crucial asset for rural development and economic transformation. This is necessary in order to ensure that land that is held in trust by Traditional and Khoi-San Leaders can be successfully utilised for agricultural, human settlement, and industrial development.

As Government, in partnership with the Institution of Traditional Leadership, we are committed to address the land question. 

In this regard, Government has since committed itself to transfer 700 000 hectares of state land for human settlements and agricultural purposes. 

Through the Pro-Active Land Acquisition Programme, government is currently in the process of transferring land to its rightful beneficiaries, with special focus on youth, females and people with disabilities. 

As a Government, we are dedicated to responding quickly to challenges that arise while also working hard to establish long-term solutions.

Esteemed Delegates,

As part of this commitment, the President formed Inter-Ministerial Task Team on Matters Raised by Traditional and Khoi-San Leaders, which is led by the Deputy President's office and is tasked with coordinating the government's response to the challenges that traditional leaders face around the country.

In this regard, we have held multiple engagements with Traditional Leaders from various provinces, and we are finalising a report to be delivered to the President; as soon as the report is completed and approved by Cabinet, the Institution of Traditional Leadership will be notified accordingly. 

As you may be aware, the Task Team has been made appraised on a number of concerns, including tools of trade, remuneration of Traditional Leaders, funding model for Traditional Councils, appointment and remuneration of Traditional Secretaries, Ubukhosi succession disputes, government transfer of 13 percent of land held in trust for traditional leaders, and many other issues.

As the ANC government, we have made it a priority to address all issues or concerns as soon as possible, in order to identify viable solutions.

With regard to the challenge of facilitating the legal recognition of Traditional Khoi and San leaders and their participation in government initiatives, we have achieved progress.

The process for recognition has been published, and the Commission on Khoi-San Matters has been set up. 

The Commission has five years to look into matters affecting Khoisan Leaders, and thereafter will forward its recommendations to the Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs for implementation.

Collective roles of CONTRALESA and the ANC

Esteemed Delegates,

As the leaders of our communities, we have a duty to join and find answers to any issues that continue to undermine our sense of community. This obligation should not simply be about our needs; rather, it should be about the needs of our communities as a whole.

Collectively, we must continue to ensure that there is development of a cohesive and prosperous society that is democratic in nature, does not discriminate based on race or gender, and does not engage in sexism.

We, as ANC government, have the utmost confidence in your capacity to steer our country in the right direction, and we are excited to collaborate with you to find answers to the pressing problems that are currently facing our society.

In your role as CONTRALESA, it is your responsibility to combat social problems such as the violation of girl-child rights, as well as ritual killings, particularly of those with albinism.

Furthermore, we need to come up with workable solutions in order to keep kids away from substances like alcohol and drugs. 

It is our duty to alter the course that will be taken by future generations by ensuring that the people living in our communities have access to educational opportunities, employment openings, and extracurricular activities that will allow them to develop and keep themselves productively occupied as they do so.

A further cause for concern for our communities is the high incidence of HIV/AIDS and TB, in especially among young women and teenage girls.

In this regard, and as part of our efforts to reduce the spread of sexually transmitted diseases, we must keep sending positive and convincing messages to young people about postponing the start of their first sexual engagement for as long as possible. When they do, to engage in sexually healthy relationships and have healthy, productive life.

Esteemed delegates, in addition to considerable progress we have made, we still need to stand up and resist anything that keeps us divided as a nation. It is imperative that we collaborate as equal partners in order to realize our goal of a unified South Africa.

We have a greater possibility of changing the lives of our people in traditional communities for the better, this we can, if we have a cohesive sense of purpose and direction.

As we have stated previously, when unity is the foundation of our collaboration, no obstacle is insurmountable.

Thank you very much.