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Opening remarks by Deputy President David Mabuza delivered at the engagement with Traditional and Khoi-San Leaders in the Eastern Cape, Eastern Cape House of Traditional Leaders, Bhisho

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Our host, Premier Oscar Mabuyane of the Eastern Cape Province and Members of the Executive Council who are here today;
Deputy Ministers Obed Bapela, Mcebisi Skwatsha and Magdeline Sotyu;
The Chairperson of the National House of Traditional and Khoi-San Leaders, Nkosikazi Mhlauli, Ah! NoSandi!
The Chairperson of the Provincial House of Traditional and Khoi-San Leaders, Nkosi Gwadiso;
All Traditional Leaders present;
Mayors present here today;
 
Esteemed Traditional Leaders,
 
1. We would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who made it possible for us to engage as leaders of our traditional communities today.
 
2. Premier, we really appreciate your generosity in hosting us in your province so that we may explore the unspoilt beauty of Africa and the vast landscapes of the Eastern Cape including the historical mountains, a lush forest, a semi-arid desert, and a wide variety of flora and fauna.
 
3. iMpuma-Koloni likhaya le Kumkani naMakhosi naMakhosikazi omthonyama!
 
4. The province is also known as the home of Legends. It is the province where Tata Nelson Mandela, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Steve Biko, O.R. Tambo, Robert Sobukwe, Walter Sisulu, Winnie Mandela, Govan Mbeki, Alfred Xuma, Cecilia Makiwane, and you, our esteemed Traditional and Khoi-San Leaders, were born.
 
5. By coming to the Eastern Cape today, we have saved the best for last, having traversed the length and breadth of the country engaging with all Traditional and Khoi-San Leaders since President Ramaphosa established the Inter-Ministerial Task Team to respond to matters raised by yourselves, our esteemed Traditional Leaders.
 
6. We would therefore like to thank you, our revered ziKumkani kunye neeKumkanikazi, for taking time out from your busy schedules to participate in today's discussions.
   
7. Your unwavering commitment to finding solutions to the challenging development problems that traditional communities and their leaders face inspires us to do even more to improve the lives of our people.
 
Esteemed Traditional Leaders
 
8. As respected leaders of the people in traditional communities, it is clear that the people expect you to make their hopes, dreams, and aspirations come true.
 
9. As Government and Traditional Leaders, it is our job to strengthen communities, speak up for their needs and goals, build stronger social networks, and protect the people's cultural heritage.
 
10. We have together made a commitment to protect, promote, and preserve our heritage for future generations because we believe that if we preserve our cultural heritage, we will be able to keep our integrity, values, morals and respect for one another as a nation.
11. We call on all stakeholders, including our extended families, NGOs, government officials, educational institutions, businesses, and the media, to contribute to the promotion and preservation of our cultural heritage.
 
12. We also appeal to you, esteemed Traditional Leaders as well as to intellectuals, knowledge holders, and Living Human Treasures to impart your knowledge and wisdom to the next generation in order to avert the threat of our heritage extinction.
 
13. No one is more important than our Traditional Leaders when it comes to protecting and preserving our cultural heritage, as they serve as both custodians and guardians of our values, customs, and traditions.
 
14. Furthermore, your leadership as Traditional and Khoi-San Leaders is essential to our country's development of a cohesive, unified, and prosperous society that is democratic, non-racial, and non-sexist in nature.
 
Critical Matters for reflection by Traditional and Khoi-San Leaders
 
15. However, it is critical that we continue to work together to find solutions to the plethora of challenges that continue to threaten the social fabric of our society.
 
16. These challenges include a lack of socio-economic and cultural infrastructure and services, as well as a lack of water access for household and agricultural development.
 
17. Moreover, rural communities have historically faced isolation and limited access to information and communication technology services and infrastructure, particularly essential in sectors such as education, health, and agriculture.
 
18. We must therefore refocus our efforts on enhancing still-underdeveloped and infrastructure-deficient rural communities.
 
19. To achieve this, deliberate and targeted investments in rural infrastructure networks must be made to provide people with access to clean water and sanitation, electricity, and roads that connect them to workplaces, schools, and hospitals.
 
Esteemed Traditional Leaders,
 
20. In addition to issues that directly affect our communities, we are aware of the challenges you have raised that we as a government must consider in a range of development areas.
 
21. Among these issues, we have heard your concerns about benefits, welfare, and tools of trade to assist your institutions and structures to carry out their missions.
 
22. While Government is making progress in addressing a number of concerns, there are still a number of issues that are being reviewed and processed.
 
23. We are committed to rapidly addressing any problems of concern in order to develop long-term and sustainable solutions.
 
24. That is why, ziKumkani kunye neeKumkanikazi, the President established this Inter-Ministerial Task Team, which is led by the Deputy President.
 
25. In this role, we are responsible for ensuring that traditional leaders around the country are receiving a coordinated response from the government to the many issues they face. 
26. As it stands, this is our seventh meeting with Traditional and Khoi-San Leaders from different provinces.
 
27. Our diverse engagements have shown us that your needs and demands as traditional leaders have minimum variances, which is why we are here with you now.
 
28. We are here to lend you an ear and attentively listen to your concerns in an effort to find solutions together to any issues you have.
 
29. Together with the traditional heads of communities, we have made it a priority to address any issues or worries as rapidly as possible so that we can find viable solutions.
 
30. As leaders of our communities, we must unite and alleviate any challenges that continue to undermine our sense of community.
 
31. In particular, the challenges of crime, teenage pregnancy, and alcohol and drug abuse that are prevalent in this part of our country require us to act decisively and quickly.
 
32. We need to find practical ways to keep children away from drugs and alcohol.
33. As Traditional and Khoi-San Leaders, it is our duty to alter the course of future generations by emphasising the dangers of alcohol and drug abuse and by providing our communities with the skills, jobs, and extracurricular activities that will help them develop and occupy themselves productively.
 
34. ZiKumkani kunye neeKumkanikazi, another source of concern for our communities is the infection rate of HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis, particularly among adolescent girls and young women.
 
35. In this regard, and as part of our prevention efforts, we must continue to spread positive and powerful messages to young people about prolonging the onset of sexual relationships as much as possible and when they do, to have sexually safe relationships and live healthy lifestyles.
 
36. Traditional leadership, as the most intimate institution that is grounded to the people, has a significant role to play in addressing these issues, including unemployment, inequality, poverty, gender-based violence, child abuse, and the emotive issue of land.
 
37. We must stand firm as leaders and say NO to all forms of abuse and violence, and embrace all that is building our nation.
 
38. We must condemn those who use culture to undermine women and children's rights, including undermining the common heritage of us all as a people.
 
The land tenure and administration
 
39. Concerning land tenure and administration difficulties, we are all aware that this has been a challenging matter for people who reside in or desire to invest in traditional regions.
 
40. This issue was also raised at this year's Communal Land Administration and Tenure Summit in May.
 
41. The Summit was successful in passing resolutions that will help to develop appropriate land reform legislation and policies. These resolutions will be taken forward and shared with you, as soon as Cabinet approves them.
 
42. We will continue to work to ensure the development and sustainability of rural communities by ensuring the provision of land rights and the transfer of ownership from the state to rightful owners.
 
43. Furthermore, we will prioritise inclusive land use management, infrastructure development, and targeted assistance to rural populations.
 
44. It is essential to prioritise land access as a crucial asset for rural development and economic transformation, so that land held in trust by Traditional and Khoi-San Leaders may be successfully utilised for agricultural, human settlement, and industrial development.
 
45. Government will collaborate with Traditional and Khoi-San Leaders to guarantee that ordinary people in traditional communities benefit from commercial land usage
 
Distinguished Traditional Leaders,
 
REPORT ON PROGRESS AND REFLECTIONS
 
46. The continuous discussions between the government and traditional leaders to overcome hurdles to rural development have underlined the need for a deeper working relationship at all levels between ourselves as government and traditional leaders.
 
47. As a government, we will continue to work together with traditional leaders to find answers to rural problems, and thus far, we are making progress in this respect.
 
48. The progress report on the government's coordinated response to concerns highlighted by Traditional and Khoi-San Leaders will be delivered shortly.
 
49. As we advance down the path of growth, we must also guarantee that the decisions we make now and in the future are implemented effectively.
 
50. We must guarantee that the concerns presented by the various leaders are resolved consistently with fairness and equitably.
 
51. We hope that today's engagement will contribute to the settlement of rural challenges. We should engage not as adversaries but as partners in the leadership of our country and its people, with the sole objective to unite everyone, irrespective of rural and urban divide.
 
52. Collectively, our preoccupation should be service to the people.
 
Thank you very much.