Address by President Jacob Zuma at the official opening of the National House of Traditional Leaders, National Assembly, Cape Town
3 Jun 2011
Chairperson of the National House of Traditional Leaders, Kgosi Maubane;
Acting Minister for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Honourable Nathi Mthethwa;
Chairperson of the National Council of Provinces, Honourable Mninawa Mahlangu,
Ministers and Premiers;
Chairpersons and Deputy Chairpersons of Provincial Houses of Traditional Leaders;
Esteemed Traditional Leaders,
Representatives of the Khoisan Communities;
It is always a pleasure to meet with the National House of Traditional Leaders.
Thank you for affording me the opportunity once again to officially open this august House.
We meet on a sad day given the news of the passing of an outstanding woman and beloved leader of our people, Mama Albertina Sisulu.
We all drew courage from her strength and learned a lot from her resilience and determination to fight on until freedom was achieved by the people of this land.
She bravely stood up against apartheid brutality and never compromised on her belief in the right to human dignity, justice and freedom.
She was not just a spouse to our beloved leader and stalwart Walter Sisulu, but was a leader of the mass democratic movement in her own right.
We are losing a warm, loving, inspiring leader who was always there for all, especially the poor and the downtrodden. Hers was indeed a life well lived.
We extend our deepest condolences to the family during this difficult time.
We meet just two weeks after the successful local government elections.
I wish to thank the members of the National House, the Provincial Houses and all traditional leaders including your respective communities for your contribution to the success of the elections.
Residents from communities led by traditional leaders across the country came out in numbers to cast their votes.
This demonstrates that traditional leaders are no strangers to democracy. The traditional system of governance has historically involved a lot of community participation.
That is why you encouraged your people to go and vote for parties and leaders of their choice.
The success of the elections has illustrated the importance that South Africans are beginning to place on this sphere of government. It also indicated the depth of their concerns with service delivery and municipal accountability.
With the elections having passed, we have to work harder to improve service delivery in all municipalities.
We have set ourselves certain targets to be met by the year 2014, and traditional leaders are key partners in meeting these objectives in rural areas.
For example, we are committed to improve universal access to basic services by increasing access to water from 92% to 100%, sanitation from 69% to 100%, refuse removal from 69% to 75% and electricity from 81% to 92%.
We also want to see improved financial management so that money can be utilized for service delivery in our municipalities.
Government’s Operation Clean Audit is making steady improvements in the financial and administrative capability of all 283 municipalities.
Functional internal audit units have been established in 263 municipalities, and 268 municipalities have established functional audit committees.
This should go a long way to helping us improve the way finances are managed.
Compatriots and traditional leaders of our people,
We declared in the State of the Nation Address this year that job creation was going to be our number one priority.
While the creation of decent work remains our primary focus, we also continue to invest in the expanded public works programme which provides work opportunities to alleviate poverty and enable our people to obtain skills, especially in rural areas.
The Community Work Programme is making a notable difference in the lives of communities in times of challenging national and global economic conditions.
Eighty nine thousand six hundred and eighty nine work opportunities were created by March 2011 across 46 municipalities and 410 wards.
We spoke in the State of the Nation Address as well about the need to fill all funded vacancies in government.
By March this year, the filling of the top six critical posts in municipalities had improved significantly in all 283 municipalities.
Two hundred and thirty four municipalities had filled the municipal manager posts, representing 82% of filled posts nationally.
A total of 242 chief financial officer posts have also been filled, representing 85% of filled posts nationally.
A total of 218 technical services or engineers posts were filled representing 77 filled posts nationally, while 120 municipalities have filled development and town planning posts.
Of concern are communication posts. Only 78 out of 283 municipalities have filled their critical communication posts.
The 61% communication vacancy rate requires urgent attention as local government has to improve its relationship and communication with citizens.
Communication and community liaison work will be critical going forward as some of the problems are caused by poor communication and interaction between the people and local government authorities.
While still on the subject of local government, let me take this opportunity to appraise you on some challenges faced especially by the ruling party in some communities relating to the election candidate list processes.
You may have seen protests in some of your areas, people refusing to accept the swearing in of councilors until their complaints about their legitimacy or lack of it is resolved.
The ruling party has appointed a committee to investigate this matter so that we can remove those people who entered the list process fraudulently.
We urge people to be patient while this matter is being resolved. The disruptions of swearing-in ceremonies and other activities will not resolve the matter. The mechanisms that have been put in place will certainly assist to correct whatever anomalies may have been created.
Honourable members of this august house,
You will recall that on 23 February 2010, when I addressed the National House of Traditional Leaders, a number of issues were raised and deliberated upon.
On 20 April 2010, I had engaged with the members of the House in further talks, during the debate of my speech in Pretoria.
I am going to reflect on some of the issues raised during these engagements last year.
In April last year we established the Department of Traditional Affairs. This signifies the importance of the role played by traditional leaders in the lives of our people especially in rural areas.
The incorporation of the traditional leaders in governance, and the elevation of traditional affairs from being dealt with at a chief directorate level to a departmental level depict our efforts as government in promoting both the recognition and restoration of the dignity of traditional leaders.
This means we are also achieving the restoration of the dignity of people who fall under the traditional leadership authorities.
The Department of Traditional Affairs has to give support to the National House of Traditional Leaders, the Commission on the Disputes and Claims and the Commission on the Protection of the Rights of the Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Commission.
On the issue of the Disputes and Claims Commission, the Report on Kings and Queens has been released to the affected parties.
I would like to applaud the National House for the responsible way in which it dealt with the process of releasing the Report on Kings and Queens.
Recognition Certificates have been issued to seven Kings: Three in Eastern Cape, two in Mpumalanga and two in the Free State.
The five Commissioners on Traditional Disputes and Claims have been appointed, and they assumed their work in January 2011.
The establishment of Provincial committees is in the process of being finalized and all claims and disputes pertaining to other categories of traditional leadership below the kingships have been received and investigations have begun.
One of the key issues raised by traditional leaders last year was the relationship between the institution of traditional leadership and local government.
It is critical that there be cordial working relations between traditional leaders and municipalities so that we can make progress with rural development and poverty alleviation in the rural areas.
After much deliberation, we agreed to a summit the institution of traditional leadership and local government to discuss how these two institutions would work together.
The summit will in essence help us to clarify the place and role of traditional leaders in a democratic society and how the institution must relate to organs of the state especially at the local government level.
The summit was postponed to later this year because of the local government elections and also to allow time for an assessment of the state of governance of traditional affairs in the various provinces.
To date, six provincial assessments have been conducted in the Northern Cape, Mpumalanga, Free State, Eastern Cape, Gauteng and Limpopo, whilst KwaZulu-Natal and North West will be assessed soon.
The general analysis revealed the following cross-cutting issues:
- Support to institution of traditional leadership is minimal in most provinces;
- There are limited resources to support the institution;
- There were indeed poor relations between elected local government councilors and traditional leaders in some areas.
I have no doubt that the assessment will contribute effectively to the enhancement of the institution of traditional leadership and the success of the envisaged summit.
It is good that by the time the summit takes place, the new municipal leadership would have settled and work will begin to build relations.
Such relations, in our view, should take into account the different roles of traditional leaders who are born into their positions and councilors who are elected representatives.
One cannot replace the other, but there should be a cooperative working relationship.
Ladies and gentlemen;
Let me add also that the Seriti Commission is going ahead with its work regarding the determination of the tools of the trade and other benefits for traditional leadership.
I have been informed that the National House has submitted its inputs to the commission.
It also gives me pleasure to announce that the work regarding the determinations on headmen and local houses of traditional leaders is going ahead. In its next report the Commission will also reflect on these.
We have made progress with regards to the mainstreaming of traditional affairs in governance nationally. There is still a lot of work to do, but we will succeed if we work together with this House, as government.
In June last year, South Africa hosted a very successful Soccer World Cup that saw many people grace our shores.
The tournament brought together the whole world, united by the love of soccer, and left a legacy that is there for everybody to see and benefit from.
On 11 June we will be marking the first anniversary of this African milestone which captured the imagination of the whole world, and which united South Africans behind their flag and country.
It was a moment of immense joy and pride for South Africa and Africa and one that will remain forever etched in our history as one of our greatest achievements since the attainment of freedom.
We want the fruits of the World Cup to be visible through investments in sports development.
Government will invest in sports and recreation in rural areas as well, not just in the cities and townships. We will no doubt need to work with traditional leaders in some of these programmes in rural areas.
Let me also take this opportunity to congratulate Kgosi Maubane and Kgoshigadi Mothapo for being elected Chairperson and Deputy Chairperson of the National House of Traditional Leaders, respectively.
The election of Kgoshigadi Mothapo in particular, as the first female traditional leader to serve in the National House of Traditional Leaders, is a noticeable achievement in the fight against gender inequality in the institution and in society generally.
Chairperson, Honourable members,
In closing I would like to emphasise that the task of strengthening democracy in our country and improving the lives of all South Africans is the responsibility of all the leaders in our country - traditional, religious and the elected.
Working together we will continue to achieve more.
It is my pleasure to declare the National House of Traditional Leaders open for business.
I thank you.
Source: The Presidency
Issued by: The Presidency
3 Jun 2011
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