It is all systems go to the official opening of the fifth National House of Traditional Leaders (NHTL) by President Cyril Ramaphosa. Following the reconstitution of the 5th (fifth) National House of Traditional Leaders last year (2017), members are ready to begin with the business of the House and the implementation of the new programme of action that will emanate from the debate taking place on 03 March 2018 and the outcomes of the two traditional leadership indabas.
The opening of the House signals that it is on course meet its mandate as it continues to ensure the following:
- promote the role of traditional leadership within the constitutional dispensation;
- promote nation-building;
- promote peace, stability and cohesiveness of communities;
- develop, preserve and promote culture and traditions of communities; consider Parliamentary Bills referred to it by the Secretary;
- participate in intergovernmental structures and advise the national government and make recommendations on any matter that the government may require.
For this important event (opening of the House) on the calendar of our country, a number guests were invited to attend. These guests include the Speaker of the National Assembly, Chairperson of the NCOP, Cabinet Ministers, Deputy Ministers, Premiers, MECs responsible for Traditional Affairs, Kings and Queens, Traditional Leaders from SADC Countries and South Africa, Executive Members of the Provincial Houses of Traditional Leaders, CONTRALESA, Business Sector, Religious Sector, NGOs, and the representatives from amongst others, Political Parties, National Kho-San Council, as well as Chapter Nine Institutions. All these guests have one thing in common, which is to see the institution of traditional leadership thriving and developing further for the benefit of our communities.
The President Ramaphosa will open the House amid the euphoria of hope and rejuvenation in the country following State of the Nation Address he delivered on 16 February 2018. In this period of hope and rejuvenation, traditional leaders will surely respond positively to the call by President Ramaphosa to all work together to build a better South Africa free of all the challenges that still confronts South Africans. Indeed through the opening of the House, traditional leaders are also echoing the words of the President – “Thuma Mina/Send Me”.
The President’s address will constitute an important milestone that speaks to the significance of this institution which is fully recognised through our Constitution. The address also confirms the continued government recognition and support of the institution of traditional leadership. “By supporting the institution of traditional leadership, we are also strengthening our democracy”, said Minister Des van Rooyen.
Over the years, many traditional leaders played an important role in South Africa. Minister emphasised that some were actively involved in the process towards the establishment of our constitutional democracy. Traditional leaders continue to play many important roles as they lead and also ensure the development of their communities working with government and other stakeholders.
The opening of the House in 2018 is taking place in the year dedicated to celebrating the centenary of the former President Nelson Mandela. In his maiden State of the National Address, President Ramaphosa implored all South Africans to live the legacy of the former President. Living the Mandela legacy will surely assist South Africa to continue building the future he envisaged where all are equal and have equal opportunities. The 5th House can surely find inspiration from countless good acts of the founding father of our democracy.
Coincidentally, Madiba, the traditional leader became the first President of the democratic South Africa and he presided over the administration that ensured the recognition of this age old institution. Guided by the Constitution, Madiba ensured that the dignity of many South Africans is restored when he recognised their traditional leaders which were destroyed by apartheid. On the occasion of inaugurating a first House of Traditional leaders on 18 April 1997, Madiba said:
- “Foremost amongst our tasks as a nation is to mobilise the people for reconstruction and development. As the people were their own liberators, so should they become active agents in changing their lives for the better. For this, our communities need information about what resources and funds are available to them; skills to turn their needs into plans and project proposals; and an effective partnership with government. Traditional leaders can promote these requirements. Oppression was overcome in South Africa, and democracy is being built, by an ever widening unity across the lines of race and ethnicity. But it would be a mistake to regard that unity as something that will preserve itself. We need constantly to encourage and promote it. As leaders, we need to be vigilant in ensuring that the diversity which is our strength is never again used to divide us. Fundamental to our unity is the mutual respect for the rich variety of our languages and cultures. While the constitution recognises rights in this regard and proposes institutions to promote them, this will have little effect without the involvement of traditional leaders”.
Time really flies, it’s already been 21 (twenty one) years since Madiba inaugurated the first House. The past two decades since Madiba’s address to the first House have seen good progress towards the strengthening of this institution of traditional leadership. In addition, there is also a realisation that the democratic State cannot be successful without working together with the traditional leaders as they are custodians of traditions, cultures and the rightful leaders and of their people.
The official opening and debate will allow the House to reflect on the work done thus far and plans put in place to assist the achievement of objectives it set itself. Some of this plans of the House are the resolutions taken during the two Indaba meetings held in 2017. “We are encouraged by the progress we have registered thus far in building this institution, but the opening of the House is an important opportunity to further to commit to doing more to better this institution. This work will include consultations and partnerships with all the relevant stakeholders, both within and outside the sector and government”, said Minister van Rooyen.
“We encourage communities to support and work with traditional leaders and their structures in an effort to strengthen this important sector”, said Minister van Rooyen”.
CoGTA: Head of Communication
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