Hon. Premier DD Mabuza's Address at the Opening of the Mpumalanga House of Traditional Leaders, Nelspruit

19 March 2010

Honourable Chairperson of the Provincial House of Traditional Leaders, Ikosi SE Mahlangu
Honourable Chairperson of the National House of Traditional Leaders, Hosi Kutama
Members of the National and Provincial Houses of Traditional Leaders
Members of the Executive Council
IziNgwenyama namaKhosi
Your Excellencies, Traditional Leaders from our sister Provinces, i.e Limpopo, KwaZulu-Natal, Eastern Cape and Free State
Esteemed guests
Ladies and gentlemen 


I am honoured to be part of this important occasion marking the opening of the Mpumalanga House of Traditional Leaders.  The annual opening of this Esteemed always reminds us of our collective leadership responsibility to advance socio-economic development and quality service delivery to ensure that the lives of ordinary citizens in our Province change for the better.


Chairperson, within two days, we will be commemorating Human Rights Day Today to remember the 1960 Sharpeville massacre in which more than 60 people were brutally murdered by the apartheid police during a peaceful protest against the imposition of pass laws.


We will be honouring many heroes and heroines in the history of our liberation struggle who sacrificed their lives in the fight against gross violations of basic human rights by the repressive apartheid government.


For many South Africans, the liberation struggle was a quest towards creating a rights-based society underpinned by core values that promote the enjoyment of democratic freedoms, justice for all, human dignity and the progressive realization of socio-economic rights.


As we commemorate Human Rights Day, we must pay homage to the generation of traditional leaders who fought fiercely against colonialism and apartheid subjugation. Their contribution will remain an indelible legacy that must continue to inspire the current generation of traditional leaders to advance the ideals of a human rights-based society, free from the tyranny of poverty, social deprivation, crime and violence against women and children. 


On this important occasion of the opening of the House, we must be reminded of our obligation to promote a rights-based society that protects the enjoyment of socio-economic rights and human liberties. 

Traditional leaders should be reminded of their duty towards building a moral and caring society, conscious of its obligations to uphold the core values of respect for human rights, human dignity and the enjoyment of human liberties guaranteed by our constitution.  


Once again, today’s opening of the Provincial House of Traditional Leaders reminds us of our collective obligation to address poverty and underdevelopment challenges that continue confront the people of the Province, especially those living in rural areas under the jurisdiction of traditional leaders.


For many poor citizens, 16 years of democracy have come and gone without the enjoyment of socio-economic rights guaranteed by the Constitution. For them, the realization of socio-economic rights remains an elusive dream as they continue to be subjected to the indignity of poverty and deprivation. 


This is the reality that continues to face us as leaders. This is the reality that must instill a sense of urgency and galvanise our collective leadership resolve and commitment to respond to the plight of the poorest of the poor.  


As government, we remain committed towards strengthening effective partnerships with the institution of traditional leadership to promote development and service delivery in areas under the jurisdiction of traditional leaders.  We are grateful that, over the years, the leadership of the Provincial House of Traditional Leadership has worked in collaboration with government to entrench the critical role of traditional leadership institutions in our local governance system.


Within the purview of our democratic system of local government, we should continue to create space for the meaningful participation of traditional leadership institutions in development planning and service delivery programmes of government. Municipalities must ensure that traditional leaders participate and provide critical input into Integrated Development Plans, particularly when it comes to areas falling within the jurisdiction of traditional leaders.


Chairperson, government remains committed to strengthening the participation of traditional leaders in municipal councils in line with legislative requirements. In this regard, the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs is currently finalizing the gazetting of names of traditional leaders who will be participating in municipal councils. 


At ward level, it is crucial that traditional leaders assist in facilitating people-driven and a people-centred development in areas under their jurisdiction. This requires meaningful participation by traditional leaders in ward committees and any other governance structures aimed at fostering public participation in development and service delivery matters.  

Honourable Members, as I highlighted in my address to this House last year, rural development linked to land reform is one of the five priorities that the current administration wants to pay special attention to as part of addressing underdevelopment and poverty challenges in rural communities.  We emphasized the critical point that the commitment to create decent work and sustainable livelihoods is a collective responsibility that we must undertake in partnership with traditional leaders.


Working together, we should continue to ensure that we stimulate local economic development in rural areas to create employment and sustainable livelihoods.


We reported that we were piloting a comprehensive rural development programme in Mkhondo Municipality. Lessons learned from the implementation of this pilot are intended to inform the roll-out of our comprehensive rural development programme throughout the Province.   


Chairperson, I am pleased to report that significant progress has been made in the implementation of this pilot in Mkhondo municipality. Among other things: 

  • We have provided new houses to needy people
  • We have assisted households to producing their own food,
  • We have assisted small children to access early child hood development facilities,
  • We have assisted with the provision of community access roads
  • We have provided additional mobile clinics in the deep rural parts of the municipality
  • We have developed agri-villages in partnership with Mondi to promote integrated and sustainable human settlements
  • To date, this pilot has already created 1 011 jobs and trained 290 Youth in various skills.

In the new financial year, we will complete the remaining phase of the pilot project in Mkhondo. We will also identify and begin to prepare other places where this programme is going to be implemented in the remaining period of the term of government


As I stated in my State of the Province this year, we will continue to expand the Masibuyele Emasimini intervention to alleviate poverty confronting the rural poor. As part of comprehensive rural development, our Masibuyel’emasimini programme will continue to provide support in the form of tractors, fertilizers, seeds, training and mentoring to promote food security and sustainable livelihoods in rural areas. Traditional leaders have a critical role to play in mobilizing and supporting communities to use land productively.


Chairperson, last year we committed to ensuring that we would implement training programmes to empower traditional leaders with skills in local economic development and integrated development planning. I am pleased to report that traditional leaders have received training in local economic development and integrated development planning. We hope that the skills that they have acquired through this training will enhance their contribution to local economic development initiatives as well as participation in IDP processes of municipalities. 

Honourable Members, we are encouraged that traditional leaders continue to play a significant role in monitoring the implementation of government programmes in traditional communities under their jurisdiction. We are happy that traditional leaders have been visiting schools to assess progress and make contributions towards improving the performance of our schools. Traditional leaders have a crucial role to play in working together with government towards instilling a culture of learning, quality teaching and discipline in our schools.


We must encourage the participation local traditional leaders in school governance structures and programmes to support the governance of our schools in general. Quality education is key to eliminating intergenerational poverty and unleashing the potential of rural communities to develop to their full potential as citizens.


As we continue to address community health care needs, government will continue to partner with traditional leaders to ensure that communities under the jurisdiction of traditional leadership have access to quality health care.  This includes active participation by traditional leaders in the implementation of HIV and Aids programmes. It is of great concern that Mpumalanga is the second highest Province after KwaZulu Natal in terms of HIV and Aids prevalence. This situation needs to be reversed.


Traditional leaders have an important role to play in helping communities to prevent the spread of HIV and Aids and mobilizing communities to take personal responsibility for their health. Traditional leaders must engage in campaigns to educate communities, particularly young people, about HIV and Aids.  


Traditional leaders must contribute to moral regeneration programmes to promote positive values and social cohesion within communities. As we fight against crime, the participation of traditional leadership is essential in mobilizing communities to participation in street committees and initiatives to fight crime, drug abuse and violence against women and children. 

Honourable Members, government remains committed to providing the necessary institutional support and the requisite infrastructure to ensure that traditional institutions are able to fulfill their legislative mandates. 


One of the key challenges that we need to address is to ensure that recently established traditional councils begin to function effectively in line their legislative mandate. In this regard, we are still awaiting the finalization of national guidelines that will govern the operations of traditional councils. Once these have been concluded, the Province will move speedily to ensure that traditional councils function as expected. 


In my address to this esteemed House last year, I stated that government is concerned that boundary conflicts, succession disputes, and divisions within some members of royal families as these continue to undermine unity and social cohesion within traditional communities. To address these challenges, we will establish a Provincial Disputes Resolution Commission to deal with disputes in traditional communities. The MEC for Cooperative Governance will provide details on this matter in his Policy and Budget Speech.

Honourable Members, as part of providing institutional support to the institution of traditional leadership, government committed to commencing with the renovation of offices of traditional councils, including the provision of necessary office infrastructure and information technologies.


As part of our support programme to fast track the renovation of offices of traditional councils, the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs has concluded an agreement with MRTT to commence work on the renovation of offices before the end of this month.


Chairperson, we had hoped that by this time the national Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs would have released the funding framework for providing financial support to the work of traditional leadership institutions. Based on the national framework, we would have ensured that the policy framework is implemented in the Province.


Unfortunately, we have not made progress on the finalization of the policy framework that guides the provision of resources to support the work of traditional leaders. However, as a Province, we have developed a draft policy framework for consideration by the Provincial House and the Executive Council while waiting for the national policy framework to inform the provincial policy. 


As I conclude I would like to state that, despite challenges in some areas of our work, we will continue to work towards building a vibrant institution of traditional leadership in the Province. We believe that, over the last few years, we have built a solid foundation for the effective partnership with the institution of traditional leadership in advancing development and service delivery improvement. This institution has become a critical component of our democratic governance system.  


Chairperson and Members, together, we bear the light for hope, aspirations and dreams for the poor who are waiting patiently for water, electricity, roads, economic opportunities as well as quality education and health care. Our task is to respond to their plight, not to betray their hopes and expectations of a better life. 


I wish the House well in executing its duties and responsibilities. I declare the Sitting of the House of Traditional Leaders open.

I thank you.


Issued by: Office of the Premier

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