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Opening remarks by Deputy President David Mabuza delivered at the engagement with Traditional and Khoi-San Leaders, Northern Cape

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Deputy Ministers,
Members of the Provincial Executive Council present,
The Deputy Chairperson of the of the National House of Traditional and Khoisan Leaders,  Kgosi Thabo Seatlholo,
The Chairperson of the Provincial House of Traditional and Khoi-San Leaders, Kgosi PS Bareki,
All Traditional and Khoi-San Leaders present,
Mayors and Councillors in attendance today,

Esteemed Traditional and Khoi-San Leaders,

It is a privilege to once again be in your midst to deliberate on issues that are intended to take us forward as a country. We are grateful to everyone who contributed to making today possible for us to participate in this engagement.

Our sincere gratitude goes to you, Premier, for receiving us so warmly in South Africa's largest province, which has stunning desert landscapes, wildlife, and gemstones, albeit occupied by the least number of citizens.

We would also like to thank you, Dikgosi, for availing yourselves to take part in this conversation at your request. Your commitment to tackling challenging and complex development challenges affecting traditional leaders and communities in communal areas demonstrates your desire to see your communities transformed.

As government, we recognise the significance of engaging with yourselves as Dikgosi on an ongoing basis, for together we must hold hands and collaborate towards attaining the national development goals of lifting the majority from the grip of poverty and inequality.

Part of what we are doing today is celebrating the recognition of Khoi-San leadership and making sure that the interests of Khoi-San communities are taken into account and made a part of our plans for development.
There can be no meaningful nation-building and lasting social cohesion if our efforts are not inclusive and we lack appreciation of the rich history and heritage of our land at its core, which has imprints of the contribution of the Khoi-San community to present-day South Africa. 

We are a nation not solely because we are homogenous, but we are a nation because we recognise the richness of our heritage, which is steeped in diversity.

Esteemed traditional leaders,

Preserving our Culture and Heritage

As leaders, we have the power to transform our communities and our livelihood.

The communities also have a widespread expectation that our presence as leaders would result in the promotion of the interests of traditional communities in our country and inspire us to serve them to the best of our abilities.

This expectation is based on the idea that our presence will bring about the fulfilment of these things and remind us of the task that faces us in advancing development to benefit the people of the Northern Cape Province, especially those in rural areas.

This is a sacred confidence that must never be betrayed in any way.

As government and Traditional leaders, it is our collective responsibility to develop communities, reflect their needs and ambitions, bolster social networks, and preserve the cultural heritage of the people.

As we continue to observe Tourism Month, we should promote our cultural history, encourage people to visit historical sites and cultural artefacts, and participate in events and activities that tell our stories and reflect our past, present, and future.

We must also take time to bring the world to our land and expose tourists and other people to our culture and traditions.

Also, we ask intellectuals, people who have a lot of knowledge, and other "living human treasures" to share their knowledge and wisdom with the next generation by writing and speaking out about culture and helping to keep it alive.

The older generation should be able to impart their knowledge to the younger generation, and the younger generation should be open and willing to learn in order to preserve our culture and tradition for future generations.

For example, if Katrina Esau, who is the only remaining fluent San language speaker, did not take drastic steps, we could have lost the Njuu language.

Katrina is working hard to save the language of her childhood from dying out. She authored the first children's book published in the Njuu language.

We should all follow Esau's example in protecting our diverse heritage. Our tradition and heritage are our wealth, and we need to harness this cultural wealth by preserving it.

As leaders, it is our responsibility to identify, unlock the potential of, and nurture all of those areas of the economy that hold the promise of creating opportunities for the people to earn a living while preserving our rich heritage.

Your leadership as Traditional and Khoi-San leaders is also crucial to the building of a cohesive, united, and successful society that is democratic in form and free of racism and sexism in all aspects.

This is something that our nation needs in order to go forward.

Current Challenges in Our Country

What we need as Traditional and Khoi-San leaders is to collectively stand together and confront the difficulties that continue to undermine our social fabric.

The challenges of crime and teenage pregnancies, as well as alcohol and drug abuse, call for us to act decisively and with urgency. We must find practical ways to divert children from drugs and alcohol.

As Traditional and Khoi-San leaders, we have a responsibility to change the course of generations to come by highlighting the dangers of alcohol and drug abuse, and equally providing our communities with skills, jobs, and extra-mural activities that will build them and occupy them productively.

We need to work together to solve problems like unemployment, HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, inequality, poverty, and not having enough land for farming and industry.

It is also important for us as Traditional and Khoi-San leaders to protect and defend our children, youth, and women who are vulnerable to violence, drug and substance abuse, and all forms of social ills befalling our country.

Moreover, we must address the marginalisation of those in rural and communal areas so they can access opportunities that are the fruit of freedom and democracy, as well as advancements in science and technology.

To accomplish this goal, it is necessary to make planned and directed investments in the infrastructure networks of rural areas so that people can have access to necessities such as clean water and sanitation, electricity, and roads that connect them to places of employment, educational institutions, and healthcare centres.

Esteemed traditional leaders,

Even though there are still a lot of problems in South Africa, people's lives have gotten better in many ways since democracy.

Together, we have made progress in undoing the vestiges of the past and placing our country on a sustainable path of development. 

The journey ahead is still long, and will have moments of difficulty, but it is not insurmountable.

As a government, we remain committed to moving with speed in attending to any of the challenges faced by communities and Traditional and Khoi-San leaders.

As part of this commitment, the President set up the Inter-Ministerial Task Team. The Deputy President is responsible for this task, and its job is to make sure that traditional leaders across the country have a coordinated approach and response to problems.

Since its establishment, we have engaged with Traditional and Khoi-San leaders from five provinces across the country. This is our sixth engagement, and we are starting to see the positive impact of the engagements.

The goal of the task team is to promote the process of community development in each of their different communities by addressing all of the concerns that have been brought up over the years by the traditional institutions and Khoi-San leaders.

As a government, we have faith, and with the cooperation of Traditional and Khoi-San leadership, we will be able to devise programmes that will make amends for any injustice or bring about a solution to any problem with the required speed.

From talking to and working with leaders from different provinces, we have learned that your problems are similar no matter where you live.

During our visits to engage with Traditional and Khoi-San Leaders in the provinces of KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo, Mpumalanga, and the Northern Cape as part of policy in action, we have been encouraged by the sheer determination by all to overcome our prevailing challenges. 

Standing united, nothing is impossible!

However, we cannot be complacent and relax. Together, we must keep up the battle against these illnesses as public health threats until no new cases are being reported anywhere.

Esteemed traditional leaders,

As we have convened here today, we are cognizant of the difficulties you, as Traditional and Khoi-San leaders, face. What we can promise is that we will keep working with you and staying interested in you in order to get past these problems.

However, we must be realistic and understand that our challenges will not be solved in a single day. What we need to do is prioritise our issues and direct our energies toward those issues affecting the people we represent.

We also want the province to collectively take the lead in resolving issues faced by the province. There are things that can be solved at the provincial level, as there are issues that must be addressed at the national level.

What is needed is a well-thought-out and coordinated approach at both the level of government and with Traditional and Khoi-San leaders.

We have heard the concerns of Traditional and Khoi-San Leaders concerning their benefits, welfare, and tools of trade, which are essential in carrying out their responsibilities to the people. 

In taking care of the needs of the Traditional and Khoi-San leaders, we make it possible for them to perform their duties.

In addition, the issue regarding Khoi-San recognition is underway. The process for recognition has been gazetted, and a commission on Khoi-San matters has been established. Submissions for applications were officially opened on April 1, 2022.

The application process will take two years, and the Commission has five years to look into things, do research, and make suggestions to the COGTA Minister.

Land Tenure and Administration

In terms of land tenure and administration, we all know that land ownership and management are difficult issues for people who live in or want to invest in traditional areas.

The Communal Land Administration and Tenure Reform Summit in May of this year also talked about this issue. The Summit was successful in passing resolutions that will help a lot with making laws and policies about land reform that are accurate. Once Cabinet approves the resolutions, will come back and present them to all of you. 

We will keep working to make sure that rural communities grow and stay alive by making sure that land rights are given and that ownership is transferred from the state to the rightful owners.

The big question should no longer be about land distribution but about how we use the land that is claimed and settled.

What matters is that we till the land.

We can tackle hunger and poverty by tilling the land. Our government, in partnership with Traditional and Khoi-San leaders, will ensure that the general populace reaps the rewards of commercial land usage and the exploitation of natural resources in traditionally based communities.

Esteemed traditional leaders,

Progress Report and Reflections

The continued discussions between the government and Traditional Leaders to address challenges that delay rural community development have underlined the need for a deeper working relationship between the government, Traditional and Khoi-San Leaders at all levels.

We are making progress in this area, and a report on the government's coordinated response to issues raised by Traditional and Khoi-San Leaders will be provided to you shortly.

As we go down the path of growth, we must ensure that the commitments we make today are implemented.

We need to make sure that all of the leaders' concerns are addressed at the same time. We hope that your participation today will assist in resolving rural challenges.

Our collective will to react to the issue of impoverished and needy communities should serve as a unifying force for our partnership to make a positive impact and improve the lives of Northern Cape communities.

I thank you.