Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize

Address By Minister Zweli Mkhize During the Balobedu Queenship Celebration Gala Dinner

Programme Director

Bakgoma Regent Mpapatla Modjadji

Members of the Royal council

Chairperson of the National House of Traditional Leaders

Premier of Limpopo Province

MEC responsible for Traditional Affairs

Chairperson of the Limpopo House of Traditional Leaders

Mayors present

Leaders of business

Leaders of faith based organisations

Other traditional leaders


Distinguished guests

Ladies and gentlemen


Good evening to you all on this most important occasion on the calendar of our country. It is indeed a privilege for me to represent government in this august occasion and be part of the celebration of the historical recognition of the Modjadji Queenship, the first in the Republic of South Africa.


We mark this historic occasion during regrettably during an otherwise sad week, as we mourn the passing of a phenomenal woman, Mama Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, who fought heroically and bravely for the liberation of our people and our country. She kept the flame of freedom and the name of Nelson Mandela and the ANC alive at the height of oppression, for decades. She suffered persecution, humiliation and severe harassment but remained resolute in her quest for freedom. We salute Mama Winnie.


We are this week not only mourning her passing, but our people are celebrating her immense contribution to our struggle for freedom and her contribution to changing their lives.  We love her, and will always remember and honour this remarkable woman and national heroine.


May her soul rest in peace, lala ngoxolo Mama


Mama Winnie would be very proud of this celebration today, the recognition of a Queenship.  In terms of the Constitution, which came about because of the struggles of Mama Winnie and other freedom fighters and indeed the people of our country, all people are equal before the law. In this regard, the recognition of the Queenship in the country demonstrates commitment to the principle and value of gender equality, and the recognition of the leadership role that women play in our country in many spheres of life. This is truly historic and is a key milestone in the democratic South Africa.


The President of the Republic of South Africa recognized the Balobedu Community as the first and only Queenship in South Africa two years ago, on 31 March 2016. This recognition emanated from the investigation that was conducted by the Commission on Traditional Leadership Disputes and Claims, which determined that the Balobedu community is a Queenship. All along, the Balobedu had been recognized as a Senior Traditional Leadership and the signing of the Presidential minute changed the status.


Tomorrow’s event is a celebration of a unique longstanding traditional leadership which has a rich history, starting with the period between 1600 to 1800 which may be referred to as the era of Kings;


  • Makaphimo 1600 – 1650
  • Muhale 1650 -1700
  • Malaja 1700 – 1710
  • Phetule 1710 – 1750
  • Kheale 1750 – 1780
  • Mogodo 1780 – 1800

    This period was then followed by the era of Queens;

  • Maselekwane (Modjadji I) 1800 – 1854
  • Masalanabo (Modjadji II) 1854 – 1895
  • Khesethwane (Modjadji III) 1895 – 1959
  • Makoma (Modjadji IV) 1960 – 1980
  • Mokope (Modjadji V) 1980 – 2001
  • Makobo (Modjadji VI) 2001 – 2005

    The period between 2005 and present Bakgoma Mpapatla Modjadji as regent of Balobedu Nation. As we are all aware, the Royal Family nominated the regent on behalf of the minor Queen elect, Masalanabo Modjadji, who will be installed Queen Modjadji VII once she graduates in terms of Balobedu determination of major or adult in line with customs and traditions.

    We have been informed that senior traditional leaders in the Queenship – Sekgopo, Rakwadu, Mamaila Mphotwane and Mamaila Kolobetona and other senior traditional leaders in Greater Letaba Municipality, namely Raphahlelo, Pheeha, Phooko, Duvula and Mahuntsi, have warmly welcomed the bestowal of the Queenship.

    The Queenship has also been welcomed by the oldest liberation movement in the continent. The officials of the ruling party the ANC, led by President Cyril Ramaphosa paid a courtesy visit to the Queenship to introduce the new leadership and further brief them on the outcomes of the December National Conference in relation to the institution. This demonstrated the seriousness and respect accorded to this Queenship by the governing party and its government.

    Fellow South Africans and friends,

    This important occasion does not only enable us to celebrate the Queenship. It also provides an opportunity for government to engage and interface with traditional communities and their leadership in the spirit of Thuma Mina, as we embrace the new dawn announced by the President. The declaration of the Queenship cements the new spirit of moving forward and working together to build the South Africa we dream about, which is free of poverty, unemployment and inequality. 

    Traditional leaders have an important role to play in building that type of South Africa. Government is committed to give effect to the provisions of Chapter 12 of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, especially the restoration of the dignity of the institution of traditional leadership in a constitutional democracy and to provide for its roles and powers. 

    Given that the institution of traditional leadership has a constituency base of an estimated 25 million people who live in rural areas, it has a vital role to play within the South African governance system to advance the developmental agenda. Therefore, it is imperative that the institution plays its role in governance. 

    The Department of Traditional Affairs has assessed the functionality of traditional councils in seven of the eight provinces with recognised traditional leaders, namely, Limpopo, Northern Cape, Free State, Mpumalanga, Gauteng, Eastern Cape and North West. 


    One of the key focus areas of the assessment was the level and quality of participation of traditional leadership structures in municipal councils and their contribution to integrated development planning processes. Notwithstanding that some of the traditional councils assessed were doing well, others were struggling in this area. 

    The Ministry of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs will focus on creating a legislative and policy framework to address legislative gaps on participation of traditional leadership at local government level identified from the assessment. 

    The institution of traditional leadership is also critical in the quest for a better society and in building a South Africa free of poverty, inequality and unemployment, and in particular for rural development. We are engaged in serious discussions with traditional leaders on how they can play a more practical and direct role in sustainable development through participation in rolling out programmes aimed at achieving the agrarian revolution that President Ramaphosa spoke about in the State of the Nation Address.

    Traditional leaders have a role to play in promoting economic growth and job creation in their areas through promoting local economic development. The thriving rural economies spoken about can be achieved best with the participation of traditional leaders. 

    At the opening of the National House of Traditional Leaders earlier on this year in Cape Town, which was followed by the debate of the speech delivered by President Cyril Ramaphosa, key issues raised during the debate have been identified, and a draft action plan to address these issues was presented to the traditional leadership. The issues we placed on the table for discussion with the traditional leaders and on which we must jointly work are categorized as follows:

  • Land ownership, tenure rights and economic development
  • Nation building and social cohesion
  • Institutional capacity and support
  • Constitutional and legislative mandate


We will continue to engage with traditional leaders to discuss the issues they raised during the opening of the National House of Traditional Leaders, and also through mainstreaming their role in the economy, including promoting radical economic transformation.


At the end of May 2017 the Ministry of CoGTA had also convened a national Traditional and Indigenous Leaders Indaba which came up with a signed Declaration and Resolutions for implementation. 


Ladies and gentlemen


These celebrations provide a platform to know and understand each other to ensure that we respond to the needs of our communities. They also provide an opportunity for us to understand one another’s cultures and heritage within the SADC region and other parts of our continent and abroad.


We are pleased that members of the diplomatic community and other representatives of the international community have joined the celebrations.


For us as South Africans, traditional leadership is an important component of our nationhood.


The institution forms part of our national identity and social cohesion, and millions of our people identify with traditional leaders are symbols of unity in the respective communities.


We congratulate the Balobedu people on the bestowal of their Queenship. We look forward to the celebration tomorrow where His Excellency President Cyril Ramaphosa will lead the nation in marking this historic occasion.


The historic events calls for a celebration indeed, and further, it calls for hard work to ensure that the lives of the people improve.  Let us be ready to roll up our sleeves in the spirit of Thuma Mina Send Me, to build a better life for all in this area.


In the COGTA family we have developed our own mantra out of this year’s message, using the Hugh Masekela song.




I want to be there when our people turn municipalities around. Send me!

When they triumph over poverty, unemployment and inequality, I want to be there.

When our people protest and cry out for service delivery, I want to be there.

I want to be there for the indigent, unemployed and those in informal settlements.

I want to lend a hand when our people fight against the rigging of tenders, fraud and corruption. 

I want to be there when our people eliminate crime, violence and the abuse of women and children.

I want to be there in the fight against HIV and AIDS, Tuberculosis and Cancers.


I want to be there to ensure food security and healthy lifestyles, Send me!

I want to be there when our people fight for land and get involved in the agrarian revolution.


I want to be there when our people clean the streets of our towns and cities to reclaim our dignity and pride.

I want to be there in the fight for a sustainable environment.

I want to be there when our people fix the potholes, fix broken lights and cut the grass on the verges of the roads.

I want to be there when our people share in the country’s wealth to be included in a growing and vibrant economy.

I want to lend a hand in the struggle to improve the lives of all South Africans.

I want to be there for nation building social cohesion and  the protection of human rights for all.

THUMA Mina, Send Me!

I am ready to serve our people, nothing else but serve our people.

Thuma Mina. Send Me


I thank you.