Address by Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa at the 20 Year Commemoration of the Eastern Cape House of Traditional Leaders, Bhisho Stadium, Eastern Cape
Our Hosts, the Premier of the Eastern Cape Province, Mr Phumulo Masualle and the Chairperson of the Eastern Cape House of Traditional Leaders, Inkosi Ngangomhlaba Matanzima,
Ministers, Deputy Ministers, MECs,
Chairperson of the National House of Traditional Leaders, Kgosi Maubane,
Contralesa Provincial Chairperson, Inkosi Mwelo Nonkonyana,
Your Majesties, Kings and Queens,
Siyakhahlela kubukhosi bama Rharhabe!
Siyakhahlela nakukumkani yamaXhosa u Kumkani u Sgcawu!
Sikhahlela kwi Kumkani zonke zephondo le Mpuma Kapa nezo ziphuma kwamanye amaphondo.
Today is a day to recognise and honour our heroic kings and queens for their unrelenting struggle against the brutality of colonialism and apartheid in defence of our freedom, our land and our identity.
For a hundred years here in the Eastern Cape, our traditional leaders led our people in wars against dispossession and subjugation.
During the height of apartheid, many paid with their lives to achieve the sacred goal of national liberation.
The democratic breakthrough in 1994 was a victory for traditional leaders as it was for all South Africans.
It was a victory for formations like the Congress of Traditional Leaders, which mobilised communities to achieve a government of the people, by the people and for the people.
Working together, we crafted and adopted a Constitution which recognises and values the crucial role of traditional leaders in forging a capable, efficient developmental state.
Working with you, we made significant advances in establishing a single local government system from the fragmented, undemocratic and racially divided apartheid system.
In 1994, we inherited an unaccountable system of governance consisting of separate administrations for different racial and ethnic groups.
As many of our people would attest, homeland administrations were poorly organised and badly resourced.
We will recall that the municipalities that were well capacitated were mostly in urban areas and served the needs of white South Africans.
Municipalities lacked transparency and accountability.
They were platforms for corruption and the abuse of power.
The democratic South Africa therefore needed a transformed governance system that would allow all South Africans to claim ownership of the country.
There was a need to modernise the public service and make it people-centred so that it would be able to fulfil the imperatives of transformation embedded in our Constitution.
The recent National Policy Conference of the African National Congress has reaffirmed the integral role of traditional leadership in building a new constitutional order to achieve non-racialism, non-sexism, equality and shared prosperity.
After extensive consultations with traditional leaders and communities on how to enhance the role of traditional authorities, the ANC is making recommendations which we hope to adopt in December.
We have reiterated that our approach to traditional leadership must be integral to our understanding of a developmental state.
Government policy should promote cooperative governance, particularly where there are overlapping jurisdictions between local authorities and traditional authorities with respect to land management.
We have said that a balance should be found between the recognition of traditional practices and the basic tenets of the Constitution.
The Policy Conference emerged with a view that the ANC must hold a summit with traditional leaders and other progressive forces to discuss and resolve outstanding policy issues.
The summit must address the relationship between local government and traditional authorities, and clearly specify roles and functions.
It needs to finalise our collective approach to the implementation of the Spatial Planning and Land Use Management Act and other relevant legislation.
After listening to your concerns, we have said that the summit must discuss the extent to which the ‘opt out’ clause in Traditional Courts legislation weakens traditional leaders’ role.
Conference also agreed that we need to discuss and reach consensus on the non-voting representation of the House of Traditional Leaders in the National Council of Provinces.
There is also consensus that more must be done to ensure that the remuneration and conditions of service for traditional leaders are aligned.
We are hopeful that such a summit can be convened before the ANC’s 54th National Conference in December.
The ANC-led government remains committed to the restoration of the dignity of traditional authority so that our leaders can better participate in the reconstruction and development of our nation.
Our Constitution envisages traditional leadership that plays a central role in social and economic development.
It is a vision that sees the institution of traditional leadership contributing to employment creation, social cohesion and nation building.
As government, we have renewed our efforts to improve the living conditions of millions of South Africans living in rural communities.
We want to do this working hand-in-hand with you to ensure sustainable development in an integrated manner for communities that you lead.
We know that working with you, we can better provide essential services like water, roads and electricity.
Working with you, we want to intensify and enhance our programme of building infrastructure and delivering more clinics, schools and houses.
We want to work with you to combat hunger that still confronts many of our communities.
We must work together to infuse new traditions of innovation and empower our youth to take their place in the 21st century.
Later today, government will be launching a broadband infrastructure project in the OR Tambo District to empower our youth and communities through technology and access to skills.
This project, which has been deliberately located in a rural area, is the beginning of a nationwide programme that has the potential to improve the quality of service delivery and rejuvenate rural economies.
It is essential that traditional leaders are integrally involved in the roll-out of this infrastructure because of the promise it holds for the enhancement of rural life.
The Eastern Cape province � and the provincial House of Traditional Leaders in particular � must be commended for taking the lead on critical matters relating to the role in society of traditional leadership.
Government will support provincial initiatives to finalise the development of a strategy on claims and disputes aimed at reducing conflicts in a comprehensive manner.
We are pleased to note also that the province is implementing a capacity building strategy for traditional leaders.
Ngokwalo mkhomba ndlela uRhulumente ubona kufanelekile ukugxininisa kwiKumkani neeNkosi ngokunjalo ukuzixhobisa ngezakhono zokukhokela nokulawula.
Royal families will be capacitated and assisted to maintain their dignity, respect and good standing in their communities.
The success of such capacity building programmes hinges on the stabilisation of traditional leadership institutions, especially at Kingship level.
We applaud the engagement processes between the provincial government and Kings to establish a Kings Forum.
This platform will focus on issues of development, uniformity of traditional structures, capacity building and share best practices to benefit Kingdoms and their traditional communities.
This Forum, I am told, will facilitate exchange programmes with Kingdoms in other African countries to learn from other approaches to culture, tradition, custom and development.
We commend the work done by the provincial government to develop an infrastructure strategy for traditional leadership institutions.
Government’s programme to resource the institutions of traditional leadership continues.
We are investing in the construction and maintenance of Traditional Councils, appointment of secretaries and the provision of the necessary tools and resources.
Since its inception 20 years ago, this House has done phenomenal work to strengthen service delivery to rural communities.
It has done phenomenal work in the preservation of traditional norms, heritage and cultural practices in the Eastern Cape.
But your work is far from over.
As a new generation takes over the leadership of the House, we are confident that the Eastern Cape House of Traditional Leaders will remain an instrument of empowerment, development and prosperity for all.
We have walked the last 20 years together.
Now, as we begin a new era, we will continue to walk together on the journey to a better life for the people of this province and the people of this country.
I thank you.
Source: Government of South Africa