Address by His Excellency the President of the Republic of South Africa, Dr Jacob Zuma, to the National House of Traditional Leaders, Tshwane Metropolitan Council Chambers
5 Oct 2011
Kgosi Maubane (Kgabo!!), Chairperson of the National House of Traditional Leaders,
Morena e Moholo waBatlokoa Mota,
Acting Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Minister Nathi Mthethwa;
Deputy Minister Yunus Carrim;
Members of the National House of Traditional Leaders,
President of Contralesa, Nkosi Patekile Holomisa;
Chairpersons and members of the Provincial Houses of Traditional Leaders;
Ladies and gentlemen;
I am pleased to be afforded yet another opportunity to engage with traditional leaders of South Africa through the National House of Traditional Leaders.
This engagement marks one of the important tasks and commitment by government to acknowledge the role played by AmaKhosi in the lives of our people.
Government was indeed not mistaken in ensuring that for the first time in the history of South Africa, amaKhosi are recognised by the Constitution of the Republic as one aspect of leadership that contributes effectively to the democracy of our Country.
Government took a well-considered decision in ensuring that traditional leadership operates within the guidelines of legislation as informed by the Constitution.
It therefore delights me indeed to meet with amaKhosi to discuss important matters that affect our rural communities.
It is clear that the issues raised by this house are informed by what the members of the House have observed in their respective communities.
At the moment, government is focusing on two main priorities: job creation as well as accelerating service delivery especially in deprived rural areas.
I hope that AmaKhosi are already involved in job creation projects in their respective areas.
Various issues have been raised, ranging from tools of trade, issues of service delivery, autonomy of the National House of Traditional Leaders, capacity building, Chamber for the National House, and participation in municipal councils.
Also included is partnerships, government support to the institution, policy and legislative as well as cooperative governance issues to mention just a few of pertinent matters raised.
In our previous engagements, we agreed that we should not focus our attention on lamentations. There is more work that needs to be done to improve the quality of life of our people.
We need to find creative ways of resolving our challenges and continue to work together.
Traditional leaders have an important role to play in their communities in identifying community needs, local economic development needs and to channel these needs through Integrated Development Planning processes.
The National House has to take a lead and ensure that service delivery takes place in rural areas by engaging government directly.
In the new dispensation, namely, democratic South Africa, the Constitution, policy and legislative frameworks accord a place and role for the Institution of Traditional Leadership within the broader system of governance.
This requires that the institution be fully integrated into this democratic governance system as well as the development and service delivery processes.
The House and government have to ask themselves the following questions:
How do we as a country, ensure that the institution of traditional leadership and communities occupy strategic positions within our democratic system, at national, provincial and local level?
How do we ensure the involvement of the institution in government programmes and allow it to contribute towards job creation and the improvement of the quality of life of the majority of our people?
How do we ensure that our democratic system operates efficiently and recognises the existence of the traditional system of governance?
How do we build a symbiotic relationship between the two systems of governance?
How do traditional institutions give expression to the democratic ethos and practice of our country and the development of our children and youth as leaders of tomorrow?
The answers to these critical questions will define the relevance of the institution of traditional leadership and communities in the current social, political and economic environment.
In the same breath, any public representative tasked with the mammoth responsibility of serving the public, must be guided by principles of good governance.
Together with the National House of Traditional Leaders, government has just completed the assessment of the state of governance in August 2011 in traditional affairs across eight provinces where we have legally recognised traditional leaders.
The purpose of this assessment as I said during the Opening of the House, was to establish among others; the current situation in various provinces on issues such as the budget allocations to the institution, resources allocated to houses, the relationship between the structures of traditional leadership and local government, norms and standards, relationships among structures of traditional leadership, and the implementation of legislation on traditional leadership.
Most of the issues raised and also identified jointly with the department during the assessment of the state of governance are currently being addressed in a holistic and structured manner.
The assessment found varied levels of functionality from the National House, Provincial Houses, Traditional Councils and Local Houses.
Cost drivers were found not to be issues pertaining to the core business of the houses such as; rural development and service delivery, but more on subsistence and travel and related expenses.
The review also found poor governance systems and lack of accountability.
It was found that support to the institution is very minimal but the provinces are beginning to attend to some of these issues, through for example, the review of organisational structures.
The review uncovered acute disparities on the allocation of budgets ranging from 0.003% to 37% to support the institution.
Another finding is the need for norms and standards that govern the traditional affairs environment including protocol issues, and also that traditional leadership legislation needs to be amended to address traditional leadership matters including the recognition of the Khoi and San communities.
This includes the amendment of the National House of Traditional Leaders Act to strengthen the House and institution as a whole.
It was also found that relations between traditional leadership, national government, provincial and local government in certain instances are strained and there is a need for a more structured partnership.
Cases of best practices were noted in the Eastern Cape, Limpopo and Mpumalanga. These provinces also enjoy support and commitment from their provincial government.
The budget, resources and traditional leadership projects attest to that fact.
The Limpopo province has some lessons and best practices on Partnerships and Intergovernmental Relations that can be implemented in other provinces, and some Traditional Councils and Local Houses receive support from municipalities.
KwaZulu-Natal province has the best practice on the participation of traditional leadership in the development of municipal Integrated Development Plans (IDPs), and their framework can be emulated in other provinces.
Esteemed traditional leaders,
Government established governance structures at national, provincial and local level with the intention of providing support to the institution of traditional leadership.
These institutions were intended to represent the voices of rural communities and to ensure that development and service delivery take place.
Furthermore, they were established to complement government work in rural areas and to implement government priorities.
We will support the National House in working to meet these objectives.
The time has come to move away from some of the distractions that had affected members of the House. Now is the time for unity in action to achieve good governance and the development of our communities.
Together we must clarify the roles between traditional leadership and government structures to promote development.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Esteemed leaders of our people,
The Presidency and Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs are currently working on the logistics of the Presidential Summit and you will be informed in due course of the date and the venue.
In addition, the department will embark on a process of addressing the outcomes of the assessment of the state of governance within traditional affairs that I have referred to.
The report will form the basis and provide baseline data for the Strategic Plan of the Department of Traditional Affairs.
Let me also refer to the matter of the Khoi and San people.
From the time of colonisation, the occupying Europeans and governments, sought to achieve domination over the rest of South African society.
One of the adverse results of colonisation not documented in history books is the decimation of the Khoi and San people.
A comprehensive National Traditional Affairs Bill has been drafted which covers all the aspects of traditional leadership including the Khoi and San affairs.
As a democratic government we cannot fail to address their challenges and not fully recognise their status.
During the course of colonisation they were undermined and their character and dignity almost destroyed.
They started fighting in defence of their rights and land shortly after the arrival of Jan Van Riebeek when they were systematically deprived of their rights and were made to disappear in the eyes of the oppressor.
I therefore hope that the bill will fundamentally address the long historical challenge facing the Khoi and San.
As a democratic government our responsibility is to continuously correct the wrongs and injustices by colonisation and apartheid systems. If we don’t, our freedom and democracy will not be complete.
The Bill will inform the kind of support to be given to traditional leadership, which will further require an active involvement of the Kings in the running of the affairs of the Institution.
Many stakeholders have been consulted including the House and some of the issues raised here should be handled through this Bill process so that they are dealt with in a structured manner.
The Bill is a clear indication of how traditional leadership is taken seriously by Government.
Most of the plans will come to fruition once all the stakeholders have made their inputs and when the Bill has been passed by Parliament and signed into an Act.
Chairperson and esteemed leaders of our people,
We must work together to restore the respect and dignity of traditional leadership that was taken by colonial and apartheid governments.
We have moved some distance, and are determined to go far in restoring the status of traditional leaders who are revered by scores of our people.
I look forward to on-going collaboration between us.
Chairperson ngithokozile kakhulu ukuba nani namakhosi namhlanje.
I thank you.
Issued by: The Presidency
5 Oct 2011
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