ADDRESS BY KWAZULU-NATAL MEC FOR COGTA During The Strategic Planning Session Of The Kzn Provincial House Of Traditional And Khoi-San Leaders, CATHEDRAL PEAK HOTEL, 11 NOVEMBER 2022
Programme Directors, Inkosi Sithole and DDG Gumede;
MEC of Agriculture and Rural Development Ms B. Sithole-Moloi;
Chairperson of the KZN House of Traditional and Khoisan Leaders, Inkosi uShinga;
Leadership of Brand-SA;
HoDs and Senior Government Officials from COGTA and sister departments;
Ladies and Gentlemen;
It is an honour and privilege to address the strategic planning session of the KwaZulu-Natal House of Traditional and Khoisan Leaders.
On behalf of the KZN Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA), we wish to congratulate all our traditional leaders who through custom, tradition, our laws, and the will of the people have been elected to be a part of the august House of Traditional Leaders in KwaZulu-Natal.
Together with former MEC for COGTA, MEC Hlomuka and Judge Thoba Poyo-Dlwathi, we witnessed with immense pride and joy the reconstitution of the provincial house in Durban on 29 June 2022.
Over the next three days, together with representatives of the institution of traditional and Khoisan leadership in KwaZulu-Natal, we will formulate the strategic plan that will inform and guide the work of this important institution over the next five years.
Once again, we wish you all a productive, fulfilling and rewarding term of office. We have no doubt in our mind that the sustainable development and prosperity of the people of KwaZulu-Natal will be the inspiration behind the work of our revered traditional leaders.
Please rest assured that KZN COGTA fully recognises your role which is enshrined in our Constitution and the laws of the Republic and laws of this province. In this regard, we stand ready to offer all the support we can to the institution and to ensure that its dignity is fully restored. We have an interest in seeing ubukhosi plays its role in the building of a South Africa which is truly united, non-racial, non-sexist, equal, and prosperous.
We take this opportunity to register our support to the Zulu monarchy and Zulu Royal family led by Isilo Misizulu kaZwelithini. After a long period of mourning after the demise of Ubhejane uphuma esiqiwini and Queen Mantfombi, we have a reason to celebrate as a province that finally Isilo Misizulu has fully assumed his role as the reigning King of AmaZulu people.
We thank Isilo for his commitment to rural development, the economic development of KwaZulu-Natal, education of the children of KwaZulu-Natal, fighting social ills and promoting our heritage and culture.
In the same vein, we wish to recognise all our traditional leaders for the crucial role in their respective communities. You remain pillars of our democracy, anchors of social cohesion, custodians of culture and our traditions.
We celebrate all of you because it is the rich diversity of ubukhosi in KwaZulu-Natal that makes us truly unique.
We are not only the land of the legendary Zulu people.
We are also the land of abaThwa – of the San, the Khoi, and the Griquas.
This majestic province is the home of Amahlubi, abeSuthu, amaBhaca, and aba-Thembu.
It was here that iLembe welcomed the British and where in 1860 indentured labourers of Indian descent made South Africa their home. Our cultural diversity and identity has also been forged through the battles we fought with the British and the Afrikaners, all who wanted to settle in this warm and hospitable part of the land to claim it as their own.
As we meet, we look to ubukhosi to continue playing its role in uniting all the people of KwaZulu-Natal, black and white, behind a programme of pro-poor, rural development.
We recognise the important role that our traditional leaders can play in forging peace on our continent, advancing the African Union Agenda 2063, and the implementation of regional integration through SADC as well as the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
As we gather for this Strategic Planning, may we recall the vision and aspirations of Dr Pixley ka Seme. While the colonisers of our beautiful land, in the aftermath of the Anglo-Boer War (South African) were discussing among themselves the establishment of a Union that would finally destroy all indigenous institutions of popular governance, Dr Pixley ka Seme, was envisaging the regeneration of this great continent.
He asserted that:
The brighter day is rising upon Africa.
Already I seem to see her chains dissolved, her desert plains red with harvest, her Abyssinia and her Zululand the seats of science and religion, reflecting the glory of the rising sun from the spires of their churches and universities.
Her Congo and her Gambia whitened with commerce, her crowded cities sending forth the hum of business, and all her sons employed in advancing the victories of peace – greater and more abiding than the spoils of war.
Today, 116 years later, we are engaged in a historic endeavour to build the Africa of our dreams of which Dr Seme foresaw; to build cities and new towns that hum with business and commerce; to build our villages in which all our sons and daughters may be employed in advancing the victories of peace.
The ANC-led government honours our heroic kings and queens for their unrelenting struggle against the brutality of colonialism and apartheid in defence of our freedom, our land and our identity.
It was you, our traditional leaders, who led our people in wars against dispossession and subjugation.
During the height of apartheid, many of our traditional leaders paid with their lives to achieve the sacred goal of national liberation.
The democratic breakthrough in 1994 was a victory for traditional leaders as it was for all South Africans. A victory of the old saying that “inkosi yinkosi ngabantu,” A victory of a government of the people, by the people and for the people.
Working together, we crafted and adopted a Constitution which recognises and values the crucial role of traditional leaders in forging a capable, efficient developmental state.
When debates rage on about the future role of the institution of traditional leadership and the resolution of the land question, we will do well to recall that these debates are not new.
When we get lost, it helps to refer to the global icon and founding President of the democratic South Africa, Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela.
Having been raised by Inkosi Jongintaba Dalinyebo at the Great Place in Mqhekezweni, Madiba respected the role of traditional leaders and admired their contribution to resisting colonial penetration and land dispossession in the 100 years of frontier wars in the Eastern Cape and throughout South Africa.
In his 1997 Political Report, Madiba noted how over the years, attempts had been made by our oppressors to turn some of our traditional leaders against our people.
And he went on to caution, stating that,
“We must also make the point that our work in this area has not been assisted by the positions and activities of some sections within the broad democratic movement which, in reality, have sought the destruction of the institution of traditional leadership, on the basis that this institution was incompatible with a democratic political system.”
Madiba described these voices in the mass democratic movement as historically misguided or ahistorical, and “detached from reality.”
He described these critics as being “contemptuous of the views of our rural masses,” and that they “have nothing to do with the defence and advancement of the democratic revolution.”
He labelled this tendency as “infantile radicalism” which ought to be resisted by democrats.
Speaking at the inaugural meeting of the National Council of Traditional Leaders in April 1997, President Mandela 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.”
Madiba was unambiguous in his vision for the institution of ubukhosi.
During the installation of Inkosi Phathekile Holomisa in Mqanduli in 1999, he was clear that ubukhosi must exist solely for the purpose of serving the interest of the people and their development.
He asserted that:
“To the extent that your leadership helps improve the lives of the people, to the extent that it fosters the best of African culture and tradition, and above all to the extent that it fosters unity and peace amongst the people, my days will be filled with contentment.”
This is again the message that we must all take away today.
We are all called to serve our people and to ensure that they achieve development and improve their lives.
Working together over many years, we have indeed done much to strengthen our democracy and prioritise development, peace, and prosperity.
It was through our collective efforts and struggles that the supreme law of the land, the Constitution, recognises the role and significance of ubukhosi in Chapter 12.
Inspired by the Constitution and our history, the National Framework Act on Traditional Leadership and Governance Act was passed into law in 2003.
This law is the bedrock on which the KwaZulu-Natal Traditional Leadership and Governance Act no 5 of 2005 is anchored.
In this vein, we look to our traditional leaders to rise as development champions of our rural communities many which are faced with massive poverty, underdevelopment, and unemployment.
As COGTA, we wish to emphasise that we see the restoration of the dignity of the institution of traditional leadership as an important step in accelerating pro-poor, rural development. We see the institution as being pivotal in social cohesion and to tackling the social ills that affect our communities.
Our province remainsa predominantly rural province. Almost half of our population living in rural areas.
Working with you, we must ignite rural development to better manage the impact of rapid urbanisation on the social fabric of our society. Unmitigated urbanisation where people, especially the youth, are forced to migrate into cities presents risks for our urban areas through the proliferation of a number of social ills. Like in the old days of the migrant labour system, we continue to see a trend which is only migrating rural poverty and converting it to urban poverty. This is unsustainable both for our villages and our towns.
As KwaZulu-Natal, we adopted Goal 7 of the Provincial Growth and Development Strategy (PDGS), emphasising the need for spatial equity to ensure that rural areas are fully developed.
Working together, we must reverse the legacy of apartheid special planning. This strategic planning must come out with concrete plans on how our province will promote spatial equity and integrated land use management as a means of guiding the allocation and utilisation of financial, human and environmental resources towards balanced urban and rural development.
In a rural province like KZN, we cannot divorce rural development from ubukhosi as we rely on this institution, its wisdom, and its infrastructure which serves as service delivery nodes.
In this regard, we remain committed as COGTA to support ubukhosi because many Traditional Administrative Centres (TACs) serve as mobile service points for SASSA, Health provision, as well as Operation Sukuma Sakhe initiatives.
We applaud the message from Isilo Misizulu on prioritising economic development, enterprise development, as well as job creation. As COGTA, we believe that institution of traditional leadership can be an effective instrument of socio-economic development and growth. We look up to you to be ambassadors of private sector development and peace.
The province will continue to prioritise rural development through agriculture development, rural tourism, and ensuring food security through various measures led.
The Radical Agrarian Socio-Economic Transformation (RASET) Programme led by our government is an important intervention aimed at growing the participation of black farmers in the economy.
RASET is opening up government markets for small-scale farmers in the Province, with government committing about 50% of food procurement to previously disadvantaged enterprises.
The Provincial government will continue to work closely with ISilo and traditional leaders to reignite the rural economy and lift the rural masses out of the indignity of poverty, unemployment and inequality.
One cannot overemphasise the importance of this institution in social cohesion and nation building. We look up to it to provide leadership in uniting the people of KwaZulu-Natal, deepening peace, fighting social ills, and defeating the shameful scourge of gender-based violence and Femicide.
Compatriots, this strategic session must also help us to deal better with the new scourge of the murder of amakhosi and izinduna. We condemn this heinous crime in the strongest possible terms.
Our Department embarked on a series of izimbizo in all districts to try to find solutions to the attacks on amakhosi and izinduna. These izimbizo were done at least from September last year and continued this year. As COGTA, we remain committed to solving traditional leadership disputes. In this regard, a new commission has been set up. It has already started its work to try solve traditional leadership disputes and claims in our province. We believe that this will contribute to stabilising communities where there are disputes.
It is important that we take the challenge of climate change seriously and mobilise communities to fight pollution and work together to create a climate-resilient province.
The memory of the catastrophe of the April and May floods remain fresh in our memories.
Inclement weather conditions continue to wreak havoc in our communities.
Yesterday afternoon we joined leaders of the uMgungundlovu District and uMsunduzi Local Municipality, in leading mop-up operations in Ward 23, Peace Valley, where heavy rains caused the Msunduzi river to burst its banks and flood surrounding communities.
We are consoled that no life was lost in this incident but are gravely concerned about the welfare of the communities that reside in areas that are deemed unsafe since they are prone to flooding and other weather-related incidents.
The Community of Peace Valley bore the brunt of yesterday’s heavy rains with several households submerged in water, we wish to commend all stakeholders for their speedy response in the evacuation of the 35 families that were affected by the flooding to a nearby shelter.
The impact of yesterday’s incident does not only stop in Peace Valley but other communities around Pietermaritzburg have also been affected and our teams are deployed to assess the extent of the damages in these areas.
The Provincial Disaster Management Centre will continue to work closely with the affected municipalities to ensure that relief is rolled out to communities that are affected.
We also wish to warn our communities against building in low-lying areas that are near rivers, as this possess a great risk to them and their families.
Our province is prone to weather-related incidents, especially during the spring and summer seasons. We all share a responsibility in ensuring that we heed the weather warnings issued by the South African Weather Service so that we can protect ourselves and our families.
We also wish to plead with you our leaders to discourage people building homes near river banks.
Please let me take this opportunity to thank those who will lead presentations and guide the work of the commissions.
As the programme indicates, a wide range of issues will be covered. The issues include:
- Rural Development, Roads Infrastructure and Housing. Attention will be paid to the role of ubukhosi amakhosi as drivers for rural development through agriculture and infrastructure development.
- Developing a program to revive communal farming in traditional areas
- Role of Amakhosi in promoting literacy in their communities
- Responding to the key challenges facing our education and health system
- Fighting against stigma on health conditions such as HIV/AIDS, mental health
- Improving road infrastructure in traditional communities to promote better access for development purposes
- The fight against killing of Amakhosi and Izinduna in the province
- Crime prevention in traditional communities
- Curbin stock theft
- Making traditional courts more effective and efficient.
We know that strategic plan will be an important tool to advance rural development and promote the role of traditional leadership.
Once again, thank you all for making this session a priority.
Together Growing KwaZulu-Natal!
I thank you.