Pretoria: President Jacob Zuma has thanked the country’s traditional leaders for their support to government programs, saying it ensures that matters that are important to traditional communities find expression in policies.
Speaking at the official opening of the National House of Traditional Leaders in Parliament on Thursday, President Zuma said last year he had requested that government and the National House work closely together to build the country.
“That collaboration is bearing fruit,” said President Zuma, who went on to mention a number of programmes in which the House had played a role.
“We appreciate your participation and the advisory role you continue to play in the drafting of Integrated Development Plans (IDPs) of municipalities. In this manner, matters that are important to traditional communities find expression in the development plans of municipalities,” he said.
Traditional leaders have also played a constructive role in supporting the criminal justice system to build safer communities, the development of the Rural Safety Strategy and the draft Community Policing Strategy and are active in the campaign to eradicate violence against women and children.
“I am aware that the National House has participated actively in strategies aimed at fighting violence and crime in rural areas … Together let us build safer communities for women and children, in this era of freedom and democracy.”
He said traditional leaders had participated in the development of the Rural Safety Strategy and the draft Community Policing Strategy which would contribute towards the reduction of violence and crime.
The National House had also joined hands with the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development and the National Prosecuting Authority to develop the Safety Planning Programme for Victims of Domestic Violence which was launched last year.
“This initiative encourages victims to think ahead and plan for their safety so as to escape unharmed from violent attacks. Government has intensified the campaign and we are very happy that communities cooperate by reporting cases of domestic violence and also the violation of women and children in general,” said President Zuma.
Government has established 57 regional courts across the country that are dedicated as sexual offences courts, with 22 due for completion by the end of the current financial year.
President Zuma said government was finding ways of ensuring the participation of the National House in the Land Management Commission, the Land Rights Management Board and the Rural Development Agency so as to ensure that it is able to influence decisions for the benefit of rural communities.
The National House has also worked with the Department of Correctional Services on the reintegration of offenders who have served their time and wish to be accepted back into their communities.
President Zuma said it was not an easy matter and the guidance and support of traditional leaders was valuable.
Government further appreciated the fact that traditional leaders had joined government to promote farming in rural areas and participated in the launch of the agricultural food production programme, the Fetsa Tlala Integrated Food Programme and other related programmes.
The Minister of Finance Pravin Gordhan announced his 2014 Budget Speech that to boost food production and reduce reliance on imports, the Fetsa Tlala initiative aims to bring an additional one million hectares into cultivation by 2019, creating 300 000 jobs.
“We are moving in the right direction as these activities will boost the rural economy. People do not have to go to the cities to find work, they can create jobs where they live … We thank you for the hard work and the collaboration in the past five years,” said the President.
He further announced that government will this year begin refurbishing kings councils as well as 78 traditional councils which are located within the 23 identified districts which require special infrastructure intervention across the country.
He said the refurbishments will be done through the Municipal Infrastructure Support Agent and the support will continue up until 2019, the end of the next term of government.
SOURCE: South African Official News