President Cyril Ramaphosa officially opened the National House of Traditional Leaders on 27 February 2018 in Cape Town. The Annual Official Opening of the House is conducted in terms of Section 8 (1) (b) of the National House of Traditional Leaders Act, 2009 (Act No 22 of 2009) (the Act). In terms of the Act, proceedings are presided over by the President of the Republic of South Africa or any person designated by the President for this purpose.
“As we celebrate the centenary of the birth of Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, the opening of the House was dedicated to him especially because he was a traditional leader and the first President of South Africa who led the process towards the recognition of this important institution.
Quoting former President Nelson Mandela during the inauguration of the National Council of Traditional Leaders on 18 April 1997, he said: “And so we meet, as descendants of these valiant fighters, in a different setting, in a different era, to plan for peace and not war; to promote unity and not division; to forge a common nationhood and not exclusive privilege.”
These words exemplify not only the abiding spirit that Mandela sought to promote, but also the challenges that still confront us, as a nation, as leaders and as citizens of this great country we call South Africa.
Inspired by this words of Madiba, traditional leaders were urged to come together, whilst reaffirming shared commitment to serve the people. “Let us reaffirm our shared determination to improve the lives of the poor and the marginalised and to build a united South African nation”, emphasised the President.
“It is a new dawn”, said the President, whilst also calling for unity and working together to improve the lives of communities. The institution of traditional leadership is a bedrock of South Africa’s constitutional democracy. In his address, the President called for the living conditions of South Africans to be improved. This institution remains at the heart of our democracy.
The discussion about the role and future of traditional leadership is important as this institution remains a vital resource in the hands of our people to repair the social fabric that colonialism and apartheid sought to destroy.
The president called on traditional leaders to be active defenders of democracy and agents of inclusive development as this will benefit the people. To this effect, he encouraged the House to work closely with government and social partners to build a capable developmental state that will deliver on the needs of communities like, clean water, sanitation, clinics and tarred roads especially to those who live in our remote rural villages.
The President committed government to continue working together with the House and the entire traditional leadership sector to restore the dignity and integrity of the institution of royalty in South Africa. In addition, traditional leaders appreciated that the 2017 resolutions of the Indigenous and Traditional Leadership Indaba will be implemented in an effort to ensure improvements and developments of this Institution.
The President urged traditional leaders to create opportunities for young people in rural areas – whether through education, internships, learnerships or employment. He indicated that there will not be any development, especially in rural areas if the youngest, most active and most skilled people leave for the cities and metros. Among other things, the President called for agricultural revolution and emphasised that we need to make agriculture an attractive and viable career for young people. This will assist to guarantee food security for all communities and also reducing the level of poverty.
The President emphasised the announcement he made during the SoNA, that the process to expropriate land without compensation will ensue in a disciplined manner that aims to benefit the country and its people. Land dispossession is a defining feature of colonialism and apartheid in South Africa, hence the issue of land reform is critical, emotive and very sensitive.
Deputy Minister Andries Nel echoed the words of President Ramaphosa emphasising the significance of this important institution and also urging for continued work with government to improve the lives of communities.
Following the official opening of the National House, the members and cabinet Ministers will debate the speech of the President. The debate will assist the House in developing its annual programme of action guided by the speech of the President.
The debate of the President speech will take place as follows:
- Date: 01 March 2018
- Venue: Old Assembly Chamber, in Parliament, Cape Town
- Time: 10:00
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