Speech delivered by Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Sicelo Shiceka, during the debate on the national House of Traditional Leaders Bill and the Traditional Leadership and Amendment Bill, Parliament
10 November 2009
Chairperson of the National Council of Provinces (NCOP)
Chairperson of the NCOP Select Committee on Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs
Members of the Select Committee on Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs
Chief whip of the National Council of Provinces
Chairperson of the national House of Traditional Leaders
Honourable members of the National Council of Provinces
Ladies and gentlemen
I am humbled and honoured to always come back home to share information. It means I did not leave home in a bad way; I was given the blessings and told to go and represent this institution with aplomb. This institution has played a critical role in shaping and developing me. We were always told that the National Council of Provinces is the house of Provinces; therefore it can’t produce ministers as they only come from the National Assembly.
The unprecedented happened last year in September; where the member of this house was appointed as a minister by the former President Motlanthe now Deputy President of the Republic. The lessons to be learnt here are that:
* nothing is impossible in life
* the sky is the limit with hard work
* leadership is watching us with hawkish eyes.
It will always deploy.
As cadres here, we must emulate this best practice; we must make it a norm from now going forward. As a way of paying back, it will lobby leadership that all section 76 Bills should be introduced in the matter of course in our life time.
Honourable members, let’s come back to the subject matter of the day. The Institution of Traditional Leadership plays a cardinal role in our lives. It forms the bedrock of our young democracy in general and traditional communities in particular.
It was at the fore front in the wars of dispossession and became highly instrumental in the struggles for liberation of our people led by the revolutionary oldest movement in the world ever, which became the spear that pierced through the colonialism of a special type and apartheid system and its obnoxious laws. It became a shield that protected the working class, the peasants, Africans in particular and blacks in general.
Therefore traditional leaders were and still are an important motive force. It is against that context that the democratic breakthrough in 1994 came also as a result of serious contribution by traditional leadership. The inclusion of chapter 12 in the Constitution was not an accident of history. This particular chapter gives constitutional recognition and appreciation of valuable contribution. We will never betray our fore bearers. The likes of Bhambatha, John Langalibalele Dube (Mafukuzela), Sekhukhune, Hintsa, Ndlambe, Moshoeshoe, Shaka ka Senzangakhona, Mkabayi ka Jama, Sukude Mkhondwane, to mention a few.
I must share with you that this process was driven by a number of objectives including the following:
* To pay tribute to the role played by the institution in the formations of the people’s movement leading the fight for the liberations of the oppressed masses of our people and
* To acknowledge and accept that the institution has an important role play in the new dispensation especially to the development of rural communities. We dare not fail them.
Today, we deemed it fit that we converge here to debate these two Bills as a further arsenal against those who don’t accept diversity as strength in South Africa, those who want to impose their values on the African people. These Bills are aimed at reversing apartheid and colonialism and their legacy. We are saying South Africa will never be the same. Our people’s government firmly believes that the Institution is critical in the reshaping and consolidation of our democracy.
We agree South Africa is one country with one President and one governance system. The governance system should embrace both traditional and modern systems. They must exist side by side for the betterment of our society and its people. South Africans resolved to put a constitutional and legal framework that ensures that traditional leadership functions in a manner that embraces democracy and contributes to the entrenchment of a democratic culture thus enhancing its own status and standing among the people of South Africa.
The transformation agenda of the institution is still a long way to go. These amendments that we are making in these Bills are not fundamental but are a stop-gap measure to address pertinent and immediate challenges experienced by the institution. Next year, under the leadership of the Deputy Minister, Yunus Carrim, we will be presenting radical and revolutionary changes that are sustainable and endurable.
We are calling upon the National Council of Provinces to engage the department on the ideas at a formative stage around issues that must place the institution at the cutting edge of the development of rural communities. We want to see a situation where traditional communities’ voice is heard in policy development, passing of laws, their implementation, planning for the country, budgeting, human resource development, implementation of laws, service delivery programmes, monitoring and evaluation.
The rural communities must take their destiny into their own hands. We must eradicate the apartheid spatial planning patterns between rural and urban communities, townships and suburbs, cities and towns. That divide must be something of the past. It is our interest as the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs that we must make sure that councillors are elected based on a modern democratic system; work together in harmony with the institution that is based on an indigenous traditional system of inheritance.
These systems are serving the same constituency.
Traditional Affairs is a holistic governance system in traditional communities. This means that it embraces land allocation, food protection, health matters, education, culture, religion, and all other matters of importance in relation to development. It coordinates all departments nationally, provincially and locally, meaning that it works with all spheres of government to ensure that the voice of the rural communities is heard.
We will implement this task and responsibility given to ourselves by the President of the Republic with “verve”, “oompf” and a sterling commitment.
We are saying the profile and stature of rural people is going to be considerably enhanced in the next four years. The issues of disputes within the institution have to be resolved in the next four years, from the category of principal traditional leader, senior traditional leader, headmen and women.
Our historical mission is about improving the quality of lives of our people. The disputes are distracting and sidetracking us from the historical task and duty. We are calling upon all provinces to move with speed in establishing provincial committees under the leadership of the newly to be established commission. This new commission is going to be small in numbers at the national level but strong in provinces through the committees to be appointed by premiers.
I am still baffled that the Nhlapo-Moleleki Commission marginalised provinces whilst traditional leadership is a concurrent function. I still don’t know where the National Council of Provinces was when the Bill was passed here in 2003. Why did it not protect the provincial interests? Why did it allow the violation of the constitution? We are reversing that mistake today.
Honourable chairperson, I hope you promise us that this cardinal mistake will never be repeated. You will be vigilant at all times in the pursuance and protection of the interest of provinces and municipalities. It is befitting that I thank the national House of Traditional Leaders, the provincial Houses of Traditional Leaders, all the organs of civil society and the general public for the contributions made during the process of finalising these two Bills.
I would also like to extend my appreciation to the chairperson of the Select Committee for his good leadership. I would further also like to thank the entire leadership of the NCOP for their support at all times. In the same breath, let me take this opportunity to also thank the Select Committee members for their incisive input and dedication to the task at hand. We say they can only grow. I thank the departmental officials, under the leadership of Mr Elroy Africa for their hard work and availability at all times when required.
I thank the deputy minister for steering the process to its final conclusion and say it’s your first achievement. I expect more tasks to be accomplished, having learnt from this process. I want to thank my family for their solid support. I say they are the bedrock of my work.
Rea le Boga!
Issued by: Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs
10 November 2009
Source: Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (http://www.dplg.gov.za/)