Opening of the Mpumalanga Provincial House of Traditional Leaders, by Honourable D D Mabuza, Mpumalanga Legislature

11 March 2011

Chairperson of the House of Traditional Leaders, Ikosi S E Mahlangu,
Deputy Chairperson of the House of Traditional Leaders Kgosigadi A S Mohlala,
Members of the Executive Council,
Honourable Members of the Mpumalanga Legislature,
Honourable Members of Parliament,
Honourable Mayors, Councillors and leaders of SALGA,
His Excellencies, King Makhosonke II of aManala for the entire Ndebele nation,
King Mabhoko III of aMaNdebele akwaNdzundza.
Our revered Traditional leaders, Amakhosi/Magoshi,
The Director General of the Province and Heads of Department,
Distinguished guests and all dignitaries present,
Comrades and friends,
Ladies and gentlemen,
Honourable Chairperson and Members.

I am privileged to address this Esteemed House on this important day marking the opening of the House of Traditional Leaders. The opening of the House always presents a moment of critical reflection on underdevelopment, poverty and service delivery challenges confronting our communities.

It is a moment that should help us to galvanise our collective leadership commitment towards improving the quality of life of Mpumalanga citizens, particularly rural communities which continue to bear the brunt of poverty and underdevelopment.   

Building a cohesive society

Honourable Chairpersons and Members,

The creation of a better nation that our forebears fought and sacrificed their lives for is underpinned by core values of unity, human dignity, respect, freedom, non-racialism, non-sexism, and democracy. 

Our liberation struggle heritage is inseparable from a relentless quest to rediscover national identity eroded by the effects of political subjugation.

For us the twin evil of political oppression was the gradual erosion culture, the destruction of social values, and the erosion of social identity that defined where we come from, and who we are.

Traditional leaders played a critical role, not only in the struggle for liberation, but in the preservation of our history, heritage and national identity as a people.

This continues to define the struggle of our times.  The breakdown of the moral fibre of society, the erosion of social cohesion and ethical values constitute a threat in the sustainability of our communities.

Traditional leadership institutions have a strategic role in the custodianship of cultures, customs, traditions and values. Within the provincial context, traditional leaders have a significant role to play in the promotion of indigenous knowledge systems and cultures as well as preserving heritage for future generations.

As a custodian of our cultural values, the institution of traditional leadership occupies a strategic position in our society to provide the necessary leadership in the critical area of the moral regeneration of our nation.

Traditional leaders have a role to uphold and promote sound morals and ethical practice, assisting government to raise social awareness on challenges such as crime and HIV and AIDS.

Traditional leaders in the Province have a responsibility to support moral regeneration programmes targeted at inculcating moral values that help to entrench a culture of human rights, and discourage the infringement and curtailment of human freedoms.

Traditional leaders should mobilize communities to fight against incidents of gender-based violence and the abuse of vulnerable people. As government, we are committed to working with traditional leadership institutions, civil society formations and communities to build a moral and ethical society.

We have a collective leadership responsibility to build a cohesive and caring society.

Role of traditional leadership

Honourable Chairperson,

Rural communities under the jurisdiction of traditional leaders need to have access to basic services such as water, sanitation, electricity, quality education, quality health care, improved safety and security as well as access to economic development opportunities. 

As we strengthen our local government institutions to be responsive to development and service delivery needs of communities, it is important to foster strong partnership with traditional leadership institutions on issues of governance and service delivery.  

At local government level, we are committed to ensuring that traditional leaders participate meaningfully in development planning affecting the areas under their jurisdiction.

Chairperson and Honourable members, we need to enhance collaboration between government and traditional leaders on land use planning in areas under the jurisdiction of traditional leaders. It is critical to align development initiatives with a long-term development perspective of a particular area.

Therefore, we need to strengthen the participation of traditional leaders in integrated development planning and implementation. Councilors should collaborate with traditional leaders on issues of planning and implementation of government programmes in areas under the jurisdiction of traditional leaders.  

Working with traditional leaders, as government, we want to ensure that traditional communities benefit from government programmes aimed at fast-tracking development and improving the quality of service delivery.

Traditional leaders should support the programmes of government, and should be at the forefront of monitoring and evaluating the quality of services in their communities so that they can assess the shortcomings and make inputs on how government could deliver these services better and more effectively.

Creating decent work and sustainable livelihood

Raanan Weitz once said:

“While humanity shares one planet, it is a planet on which there are two worlds, the world of the rich and the world of the poor”

 Honourable Chairperson,

Our biggest problem in the country, the province included, lies in the latter part of this statement.

The State of the Province that I have delivered in February this year slanted towards the world of the poor.

As we all know, the challenges of widespread poverty, inequality and unemployment are more pronounced in the world of the poor. This is a world where Members of this House happen to lead and guide.

The majority of these people living in this world are our subjects. They are not working. They are without nutritious food. They trapped by all sorts of diseases, and are also suffering from material deprivation.

Fortunately government has agreed with the people in this poor world to turn this situation around. We have agreed to work together towards stimulating rapid economic growth that could generate jobs and lead to sustainable development. 

Among the main sectors that we identified as key drivers of the provincial economy, agriculture features high, primarily because we are largely a rural province.  And most of the agricultural land falls within the jurisdiction of Traditional Leaders.

Therefore, the role of this House in the development of this sector cannot be overemphasised. We need to strengthen our partnership in urging our people to use land at their disposal for their own subsistence and food security in general. Land must be used productively to contribute to economic livelihoods of rural communities.

We expect to see the Members of this House playing a very crucial role in monitoring the implementation of government programmes meant to support small scale farmers and those households involved in backyard gardens.

Of critical importance, we expect to work together in the area of land redistribution and land use patterns since our new approach to the development of integrated and sustainable human settlement hinges on these areas of work.

Comprehensive rural development and agrarian reform

Honourable Chairperson

Talking of integrated and sustainable human settlement, our rural communities are also expected to be developed along these lines. As Members will recall from my State of the Province Address, we have identified six areas where we will be rolling out the Comprehensive Rural Development Programme that we have been piloting in Mkhondo municipality.

To refresh our memories, the municipalities that we identified for this Programme involve Nkomazi and Bushbuckridge municipalities in Ehlanzeni District; Albert Luthuli and Pixley ka Isaka Seme municipalities in Gert Sibande District, and Thembisile Hani and JS Moroka municipalities in Nkangala District.

What one must quickly point out right at outset is that there will be a hive of activities that will be taking place in these areas. All the departments of government, involved municipalities and relevant national departments will be converging in these municipalities to render different services to our people.

Undoubtedly, Members of this House are key to the success of this Programme. Your leadership in the mobilisation of your subjects to be in the forefront of this Programme is going to be fundamental. Your subjects must be seen to be shaping the development of their own settlement.

We expect to see the money injected in these areas to be benefiting the local people. We expect to see the CRDP delivering jobs, skilling people, particularly women and the youth, boosting local economy and delivering basic services to our people.

We are therefore, calling upon all Members of this House, to work with government and the people to make the Comprehensive Rural Development Programme a resounding success.

Improving the quality of education

Honourable Chairperson,

It is said that an educated nation is a successful nation. As a province, most of our impediments to development rapture lie in our level of education. Our illiteracy level in the Province is unprecedentedly high, particularly among the youth, our future leaders.

Since government and the people have identified this area of work as one of priorities that must be given undivided attention, we therefore, expect Members of this House to support the initiatives that government has embarked upon towards improving the quality of education of our children.

We rely on your leadership to guide the communities that you lead to work very hard in ensuring that the education of our children is taken seriously.

Together with the Members of this House, we have to work very hard in ensuring that the culture of learning and teaching is restored. The teachers must be in class together with the children during full school hours.


Honourable Chairperson,

The high prevalence of HIV continues to pose a serious threat to the health profile of Mpumalanga citizens, and this will have a negative impact on our development and economic performance as a Province.

We are pleased that we are seeing the beginning of a downward trend in the recent HIV prevalence figures. Our task is to sustain the momentum that reduces high prevalence rates.

As we confront the challenges of HIV/Aids, the traditional leaders should continue to play a pivotal role in inculcating values that encourage responsible sexual behaviour and practices in order to combat the spread of HIV and Aid pandemic.

Traditional leaders need to play a role in promoting voluntary testing so that individuals know their HIV status, and seek assistance where required.

As part our efforts to reduce the rate HIV infections, government has already commenced with the Medical Male Circumcision programme. Government is fully aware that this initiative requires a strong partnership with traditional leaders to ensure that this programmes is implemented in a manner that is not in conflict with cultural values and norms.

We will always seek guidance and participation of traditional leaders as we continue to roll out the Medical Male Circumcision programme.

Intensifying our fight against crime and corruption

Honourable Chairperson

Crime is still rife in our communities. Our people are living in fear all the times. Our children and women continue to be abused and harassed by criminals. Tourists are also not immune from the vicious attacks of criminals. Surprisingly enough, some community members know these people who are in the wrong side of the law but choose to keep quiet out fear.

As most of us might have observed the recent success stories, where police managed to crackdown a series of dubious activities of criminals, was due to whistleblowers. If all of us could work together with the police, we can go a long way in rooting out criminals from our communities. Members of this House are also expected to lead the Campaigns aimed at fighting crime in areas the jurisdiction of traditional leadership.

Similarly with corruption, we have to intensify our fight against corrupt individuals, both in the public and private sector. As government delivers services to our people, we are aware that, in certain instances, such services end up not benefitting the intended beneficiaries. And our subjects pick up such unbecoming tendencies but do not report to the relevant authorities for action.

Again, we are appealing to the Members of this House, to use any opportunity in the communities that they lead to encourage people to fight against such unacceptable criminal tendencies because the development of our people continues to be undermined.

Capacity of traditional leadership institutions

Honourable Chairperson,

As I highlighted in my State of the Province Address last month, I argued that:

“the role of traditional leadership institutions remains important in our local government system. As government, we are committed to ensuring that we provide necessary support to enable traditional institutions to execute their functions in terms of applicable legislation” 

Honourable Chairperson, we will continue to work with the Provincial House of Traditional Leaders in addressing challenges facing the institution of tradition in the Province, including issues of succession and boundary disputes.

We will pay particular attention to ensuring that Traditional Councils work in a manner envisaged in the legislation. The resolution of outstanding boundary disputes is a priority that the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs will focus on.

Government will continue to provide all Traditional Councils with the necessary support to assist them in running their administration.

Our capacity building programme of Traditional Councils will focus on financial management to ensure that public resources are managed in a prudent manner.

As part of our support to the institution of traditional leadership, the Executive Council has approved a policy framework governing the modalities of financial support to the institutions of traditional leadership.

Among other things, the support entails the procurement of office furniture, vehicle for traditional leaders, provision of personnel, office accommodation and communication tools.

We are pleased to announce that we have acquired vehicles for the 59 Traditional Councils.  The registration process has been concluded, and after this address, I shall hand these vehicles over.

Honourable Chairperson, last year we committed to support with renovations of traditional offices.  I am happy to report that we have concluded this task in seven of the ten identified offices.  The rest will be concluded in the next financial year.


Chairperson, government remains committed towards building a vibrant and democratic traditional leadership institution.

This is an institution which is an integral part of our local governance system. Collectively, we need to be responsive to the development and service delivery needs of communities

Let me conclude by wishing the House well in discharging its responsibilities. I declare the Sitting of the Provincial House of Traditional Leaders open.


I thank you

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