The importance of like-minded people coming together in a meeting such as the Indigenous and Traditional Leaders Indaba is important and bears positive fruits. The involvement of many stakeholders at the inaugural indaba was an important ingredient which provided an opportunity to provide various perspectives that will assist to move the country forward.
The content that came through from various discussions and presentations, will surely go a long way in ensuring that we bring development and improvement in the Republic of South Africa, especially in the area of traditional leadership.
The rich and informative deliberations at the Indaba, definitely confirmed that indeed the institution of traditional leaders is import and can be used to empower communities in our country if well-resourced and supported by government. When this institution is functioning properly within our communities, the dignity and pride of people is restored.
The programme of the day was to begin with messages and presentation from the four political parties invited:
- Inkatha Freedom Party
- Economic Freedom Fighters
Due to unavailability of some political parties (EFF and DA) the session of parties was cancelled, but the IFP which confirmed was given an opportunity to give a message of support to the Indaba.
The representative from the IFP, Inkosi Cebekulu read the statement on behalf of Chief Mangosuthu Butheleizi. Chief Buthelezi lamented what he saw as a slow pace of change within the institution of traditional leadership. To this effect, he indicated that this engagement is important and long overdue. The statement indicated that traditional Leaders remain the core of many countless communities across the country hence this institution is recognised by our Constitution. The submission emphasised the importance of the coexistence between Municipalities and the institution of traditional leadership. The Institution of traditional leaders cannot continue to act in a ceremonial capacity only, but should be at the centre of service delivery. The submission requested that in municipalities, traditional leaders should take part in decision making and not just be part of the meeting where they do not have a say.
Traditional Leaders have been asking for their powers and function to be preserved in the laws of our country and the submission by Chief Buthelezi made a clarion call to this effect. The traditional leaders are in their own right the leaders of their own constituencies and it is important to ensure that this institution is recognised and fully functional.
The Treasurer General (TG), Dr Zweli Mkhize represented the African National Congress (ANC) at the Indaba. Speaking at the Indaba, Dr Mkhize emphasised the importance of the Indaba and he indicated that it will go a long way to assist to move the country forward. The TG also outlined the significance to the Institution of traditional leaders. As part of the team in discussions on issues related to Traditional leaders, Dr Mkhize emphasised that the ANC supports this important institution. The ANC was formed through a collaboration traditional leaders and the Intelligentsia.
The TG touched on the issue of land, which has occupied the whole Indaba and was the core discussion area by all delegates, even in commissions. He indicated that the issue of land dispossession and the undermining of governance structures of our people was one of the main reasons that informed our struggle.
The TG called for the coexistence of the constitution and the customary law is encouraged. Traditional leadership will continue to work with government in fighting poverty and ensuring that values of our constitution are upheld and protected.
This summit will contribute to ensuring that we build sustainable economies across the country and also ensure that we have thriving communities. Radical Socio-Economic Transformation make emphasis on land as one of the major investment for communities across the country. The TG emphasised the position of the ANC on land, indicating that it should made available to communities. The number of people occupying the piece of land given to communities are growing and as such land must be made available as soon as possible to communities.
The ANC has called on Land reform has to be expedited and all obstacles impeding this important area of work whatever obstacles need to be removed. Without land, there might not be economic development for many communities across the country. To this effect, the ANC will meet with CONTRALESA and other role-players to discuss a number of issues which will be taken forward. Some of those issues include the following:
- Powers of traditional leaders and the suggestion to amend the section 7 of the constitution – dealing with powers of the traditional leaders.
- Property rates act and the concerns about its application.
- Traditional Courts Bill – (this also affects all South Africans)
- Participation of traditional leaders in LG
- Referral of bills to the house – look at the times
- Remuneration issues
- Tools of trade
- Infra dev for traditional leaders.
- Support for traditional councils to do their work.
The Indaba welcomed and appreciated the messages by political parties. The delegates commended them for responding positively to the call of traditional leaders requesting dialogue. The Indaba felt that the submission made by parties align very well with what the Indaba was discussing. The delegates attending the Indaba lamented the absence of other invited parties as the lack of respect for Traditional leaders.
The discussions at the Indaba sought to find solution to key issues affecting this important age-old institution. The Indaba agreed that discussion should continue to ensure that key programmes and issues raised by the Indaba are implemented. The discussions that continued, assisted to refine the issues raised by the communities across the country. The inputs of political parties emphasised the need to continue waging war against the triple challenges that continues to besiege out people.
The inputs of parties clearly showed that the issue of land is important for traditional leaders in our country. The land reform programmes and the transferring of land to traditional authorities has to be expedited to ensure that the dignity of the communities are restored since the dispossession that begun in 1652 when the settlers arrived in our country.
The inputs also spoke about the preservation cultures and traditions. The traditional leaders as the custodians of culture and traditions also recognised the importance of ensuring that this important part of their communities are preserved. This Indaba will therefore assist to ensure that issues that requires attention relating to traditional leadership are noted and addressed.