After five days of robust, strategic and honest deliberations, the historic inaugural indaba of traditional leaders has come to an end. Judging by the level of engagements and discussions, the Indaba was really able to deliver beyond expectations.
The Indaba commenced on 29 May with an address by His Excellency President Zuma calling for unity and highlighting the importance of the institution of traditional leadership. The president also spoke about the important role that traditional leaders play in various communities and within the democratic dispensation. The entire address of the President set the tone for the discussions during the entire indaba.
Following the address by the President, four cabinet Ministers came through to address the Indaba on various areas related to their portfolio. The Ministers emphasised the importance of partnerships with communities and traditional authorities to ensure that opportunities are made available for people. In terms of Tourism, the traditional leaders were encouraged to identify areas for tourism purposes that can assist to bring economic opportunities to their communities working with government.
The Minister of Small Business Development encouraged partnerships with communities to build entrepreneurs and encourage cooperatives that can benefit communities. The delegates were urged to promote local businesses as this will assist with development and promote economic opportunities. The Ministry of Mining resources promised the delegates that the soon to be launched Mining charter contains good news for communities, especially those who have mining operations in their areas. The fourth presentation on land proved to be important one as it laid the basis for the discussions that were to follow in one of the commissions dealing with the same subject.
Many communities in our country are under the traditional leadership and have been aspiring for the restoration of their dignity. The major challenge is that the majority of indigenous communities have historically been displaced with the land dispossessed from the rightful owners and forced to only occupy the small area. The Indaba noted that due to lack of land, many communities continue to be besieged by the triple challenges, poverty, inequality and unemployment. The role of traditional leaders in dealing with these challenges is important as land can assist communities to farm and have a better and improved livelihoods.
Addressing the indaba on 02 June 2017, His Excellency Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa emphasised that South Africa needed the traditional leaders to prosper and the institution is also recognised by our Constitution. He further stated that the work in this sector is far from over as the people of South Africa demand the restoration of their land, their wealth and their dignity. Therefore the time is now to rebuild our nation.
The Deputy President indicated that our – “kings, queens, and royalty led heroic battles against colonial oppression and land dispossession and today as we navigate our path to economic freedom and nation building, we again humble ourselves before you to play your part”.
Guided by our constitution which envisages traditional leadership that plays a central role in social and economic development, the Indaba was urged to embrace the constitutional principles of democracy, equality and accountability.
The Deputy President called on traditional leaders to play a central role in the development of their communities. It has for long been the function of traditional leadership to facilitate economic development, protect communities and preserve the environment. The role of traditional leaders is important to retain the best of our traditions, heritage and indigenous wisdom while seizing the opportunities of a rapidly changing world.
He further emphasised that stakeholders must work together to infuse new traditions of opportunity, innovation and transformation. The institution of traditional authority must define itself as a developmental authority, develop the skills of rural youth. The Deputy President believes that if we succeed in creating economic and educational opportunities, more young people will remain in traditional communities to contribute to growth and to strengthen the social fabric within their communities. In his view, it is only through education that we can decisively break the cycle of poverty that has been handed down from generation to generation.
The Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (CoGTA), Honourable Des van Rooyen, emphasised that the Indaba was not a talk-shop, but a strategic meeting that has succeeded in reaching its set goals and objectives. The outcomes of the Indaba is a clear voice of traditional leaders on how to take this important institution forward. To this effect, the outcomes of the Indaba will inform our plan of action which will be tabled in all government structures and this will enhance ownership. The successful implementation of the resolutions of this important Indaba hinges on the cooperation of other departments and other structures of government.
“We need a collaborative effort to give effect to the resolutions of this Indaba and hence this resolutions will be included in the overall strategic plan of CoGTA”, said Deputy Minister Bapela. The Minister indicated that CoGTA will engage other departments on the required support and resources to strengthen the institution of traditional leadership. He also called provinces to support the structures of traditional leadership so that they can be effective and ensure that they focus on the wellbeing of their communities.
The chairperson of the National House of Traditional Leaders (NHTL), Kgosi Maubane delivered closing remarks and he thanked delegates for a fruitful week of immense deliberations that imparted knowledge. The wisdom of Traditional leaders assisted to drive the discussions which will go a long way in moving this sector forward.
He emphasised the importance of harnessing the relations between the institution of traditional leadership and the elected representatives to advance development and service delivery. The implementation of the decisions of this sector will ensure that the dignity of the institution of traditional leadership in South Africa is restored
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