Opening of the North West Provincial House of Traditional Leaders, Premier of the North West Province, Mme Thandi Modise in Mmabatho
13 Jul 2012
Chairperson of the House of Traditional Leaders, Kgosi M S Zibi,
Deputy Chairperson, Kgosi M E Mabe,
Members of the Executive Council present,
Honourable Members of the North West Legislature,
Our revered Traditional leaders, Dikgosi
Honourable Mayors, Councillors and leaders of SALGA,
The Acting Director General of the Province and Heads of Department,
Distinguished guests and all dignitaries present,
Comrades and Friends,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am privileged to address this Esteemed House on this important day marking the opening of the North West Province House of Traditional Leaders.
The opening of this house is important to all of us as the citizen of North West Province in an effort to build and sustain our communities especially our rural communities in making sure that we address the issues of poverty, underdevelopment and service delivery confronting our communities.
Our people need the services such food, clean piped water, sanitation services, transport, roads, energy, recreation facilities, and decent housing. That is why meeting these basic human needs is the top priority of our government. We are still committed in delivering these basic services.
This year the ruling party the African National Congress (ANC) is celebrating its 100 years of existence. We are grateful for the working relations we have had with Makgosi for the past century, and the struggle still continues.
We must continue as the Provincial government to work hard to build unity and to consolidate the gains of our democracy, including supporting our traditional leaders in our democratic dispensation.
It has been indeed the milestone for this liberation movement who fought for generations for the recognition of all races living in South Africa. The ideas of non-racial, non-sexism and a democratic South Africa were made possible.
We are indeed encouraged by the formation of this movement as it was led by Dikgosi go tloga ko Ga Lowe in order to bring back the stability and the identity of South Africans, particularly blacks as their land was taken forcefully from them and their heritage been destroyed.
Your contribution as traditional leaders to the fight against colonialism and apartheid is well appreciated you were always progressive in nature and character.
The institution of traditional leadership has never been an antithesis of the democratic principle. It was the nature of colonialism and imperialism that undermined the progressiveness of the institution of traditional leadership instead of harnessing it.
In order for the redress of this pains and suffering our traditional leaders met in Mangaung to reclaim what belongs to the majority of our people by forming an organisation that is strong today and that is continuing to be a beacon of hope for the people of South Africa.
Traditional leaders played a critical role, not only in the struggle for liberation, but in the preservation of our history, heritage and national identity as a people.
The Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, Act no. 108 of 1996 states that the Republic of South Africa is one, sovereign, democratic state founded on values, which include human dignity, the achievement of equality and the advancement of human rights and freedom and the constitution is the supreme law of the land which seeks to establish a society based on democratic values, social justice and fundamental human rights.
It provides for the establishment of one sovereign state, a common South African citizenship and a democratic system of government committed to achieving equality between men and women and people of all races.
The Constitution recognises the institution of traditional leadership. Section 211 provides for the existence of the institution as well as the status and role of traditional leadership, and states that traditional authority must observe a system of customary law which must not be in conflict with any applicable legislation and customs, including amendments to them.
The section makes provision for courts to apply customary law when it is applicable, subject to the Constitution and any legislation that specifically deals with customary law.
Section 212 provides a role for the institution of traditional leadership on matters affecting local communities.
In terms of the Municipal Systems Act traditional leaders must be consulted on municipal IDPs. The Disaster Management Plans of municipalities must assign a role for traditional leaders. 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 the Integrated Development Planning processes.
Section 73 of the Structures Act indicates that municipalities must, when constituting ward committees, take “into account the need for a diversity of interests in the ward, to be represented”. This means the traditional leaders have a responsibility to make inputs and monitor progress and impact of service delivery in traditional communities under their jurisdiction. Traditional leadership should participate in ward committees, and communicate government service delivery programmes to communities.
Section 81(3) of the Structures Act recognises the position, and preserves the integrity, of the traditional leader of a specific area. Sections 25(3) and 28(2) of the Intergovernmental Relations Framework Act of 2005, allow traditional leaders, whenever necessary, to participate in municipal intergovernmental forums when relevant issues come up for discussion.
The White Paper on Traditional and Local Government notes that traditional leadership has to function in a manner that embraces democracy and contributes to the entrenchment of a democratic culture, thus enhancing its own status and legitimacy amongst the people. Some of the key elements which the transformation process has to take into consideration are: to ensure that the institution responds and adapts to change; to be in harmony with the Constitution and the Bill of Rights;
It further notes that it must promote democratic governance and the values of an open and democratic society; to strive to enhance tradition and culture; and to manage an efficient, effective and fair dispute resolution system through customary law courts for traditional local communities.
Moral regeneration and social cohesion
The new democratic order, however, created the perception of a breakdown of the moral social fabric. The concept values refer to several factors such as attitudes, beliefs, professional knowledge, interests, virtues and principles which are enshrined in the constitution.
The government under the Ministry of Arts and Culture led by Ntate Mashatile held the social cohesion summit recently to try and find what the problem with South African society is under the theme “what it means to be a proud South African”.
This was informed by what we see every day that many of our people have turned their backs from the important elements of Ubuntu of humanism, compassion, and solidarity.
Re lebetse gore motho ke motho ka batho.
The summit debated all the ills that are affecting our country like issues of race, economy, and many other matters. We are calling on you as Dikgosi to play a pivotal role in promoting social cohesion and building sustainable communities.
Social cohesion is underpinned by the existence of shared moral values, social practices and a strong sense of unity within communities. It is critical that traditional leaders contribute to bringing about peace and harmony within communities they lead.
The ancient philosopher Aristotle was concerned with moral virtues. These virtues included friendliness, honesty, justice and courage. This is what we should strive for as a nation.
The South African society is under threat because it seems to be experiencing a value dilemma. Our modern society is becoming increasingly more unstable, belligerent, lawless, self-centred, violent, undisciplined and permissive, with these trends being more apparent among the younger generation.
Moral degeneration is a universal phenomenon which negatively affects many societies today. We need to ensure that the matter of moral regeneration become central to our interactions within our communities. All of us must be seen towards building a moral and caring society, conscious of its obligations to uphold the core values of respect for human rights, human dignity and the enjoyment of human liberties guaranteed by our constitution.
Our province has been noticing the increase of series of unprecedented events, such as murder, rape, especially amongst the women and children. The provincial government is determined to fight this plaque in ensuring the safety of our communities. Dikgosi must be part of this fighting and play an important role in mobilising communities against drug abuse, gender-based violence, and the abuse of children, the elderly and persons with disabilities. It is not only the job of government only but communities must be encouraged to participate in helping to combat the crime in our communities.
As the North West province for the last years we have been challenged by the conflicts in the communities where the mines are located. The splinter groups are emerging from this ordeal. We as the provincial government had the series of meetings to try and resolve these matters.
Another factor is the infighting in the royal houses, were the chieftaincy is been contested and this delays the government in signing the proper certificate for the rightful heir. We need to work together guided by the law to resolve this matter urgently.
However the house of traditional leaders need to continue to play a tremendous role in conflict resolutions pertaining to land and mineral resources, chieftaincy, succession, criminal and civil cases as well as adding meaningful inputs in the administration of the local government system.
Traditional leaders should provide leadership in ensuring that communities utilise available land productively to increase agricultural output and enhance food security. The government will continue to provide support. It is critical that traditional leaders assist in ensuring that government resources are properly utilised to reach intended beneficiaries.
Traditional leadership institutions have a strategic role in the custodianship of cultures, customs, traditions and values. Within the provincial context, traditional leaders have a significant role to play in the promotion of indigenous knowledge systems and cultures as well as preserving heritage for future generations.
Traditional Court Bill
From 2008 the traditional courts bill was introduced to parliament, and this year the bill was re-introduced in the National council of provinces. There are mixed feelings to the bill as the provinces have rightfully rejected the bill and some have requested more time in putting more emphasis on the bill.
During the public hearing in the province 95 % out rightly rejected the bill, while 5% agreed to it, out of the 2050 people attending the hearing.
The concerns raised to the bill were that will entrench colonial and apartheid distortions embedded in ‘official’ customary law at the expense of women’s rights and equal citizenship. It creates a separate and highly coercive legal regime for those living in the rural areas.
The constitution is the supreme law, as the provincial government we want this bill to be inclusive of all and accommodate the vulnerable living in the rural areas. Because as it stands now it threatens to undermine the security of our people living in rural areas.
The bill would grant individual traditional leaders sole authority to interpret and implement customary law. The bill would also prohibit rural people from opting out of the jurisdiction of traditional courts, preventing access to alternative forms of justice and circumventing the authority of the constitution.
Let us go back to the drawing board and allow members of the communities to make inputs in the proposed bill that will allow active participation in the bill. A traditional leader is a traditional leader because of heredity and tradition but also because of the people he or she serves.
The 2010 findings of the Nhlapo commission which came in effect in 2008 in trying to rectify the disputes that we have in the chieftaincies all over the country. We support the findings and we are looking forward in the continuation of the commission in working with the South African to undo the mistakes of apartheid regime in installing their own rather than following the right heirs to the throne.
In closure the government remains committed towards building a vibrant and democratic traditional leadership institution.
Traditional leadership has an important role to play in contributing towards development and service delivery, specifically with regard to poverty alleviation, community development and empowerment programmes.
As the provincial government we will continue to strengthen partnerships between government and the institution of traditional leadership to focus on rural development, fighting poverty and the delivery of public services in areas under the jurisdiction of traditional leaders.
Our traditional leaders have a responsibility to take the lead and help all of us to value a life of respect, of honesty and human dignity.
I thank you
Lesiba Moses Kgwele
Tel: 018 388 3705
Cell: 083 629 1987
Issued by: North West Office of the Premier
13 Jul 2012
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