Speaker Sharna Fernandez deserves our thanks for bringing this debate to the house today. We understand that the role of a Speaker in any legislature is not an easy one.
Sometimes you have to make rulings which are not popular. But we believe that you are making a genuine effort to apply your mind without fear or favor. Thus it was not easy for you, in terms of precedent in this house, to order Premier Zille to leave the house, because she refused to accept your ruling. What disturbs us as the ANC however, is the reports that Premier Zille, MEC’s Madikizela and MEC Fritz, under instruction of the Premier, actively campaigned against you during the recent DA conference in the metro region.
We hope you will take us into your confidence and expose the undemocratic and factional treatment aimed at you. We request you to be strong and play your role without fear or favor.
The Premier’s conduct can only be described as being similar to a colonial bully.
As we mark the end of Heritage month, we need to once again reflect and ask what exactly are we celebrating. Some have turned the public holiday into a braai day.
But here in the Western Cape, how can a heritage day go by without us reflecting on the impact of Apartheid Colonialism and Slavery on the people of our province and country.
Very few people know that the 24th September was first called King Shaka day. That day recalled one of the greatest African statesmen and warriors. In fact, commentator Fred Kumalo once wrote that even though people are materially poor, King Shaka and Cetshawayo, after him, were able to leave people with a strong sense of history, a strong sense of dignity. We also remember warriors like Doman, Adam Kok and Stuurman,
Colonialism and later apartheid brought with it utter destruction and devastation. Murder. Rape. Pillage.
In its wake, ancient civilizations were destroyed and as Western hegemony sought to influence the world, so too were indigenous cultures downplayed and obliterated. This undermining of culture either happened overtly or subtly. The worse overt operation was the genocide perpetrated against the Khoi and San people at the Cape as well as the degradation done to Eastern Cultures through the slave trade.
One of the tenets of apartheid was that it was the responsibility of the European man to be the custodian or interpreter of African culture. A continuation of the practice of the colonial masters who appointed African chiefs saw the apartheid leaders, believing that they could determine what was truly Zulu, Xhosa, and Ndebele etcetera.
African culture was therefore frowned upon and seen as subservient to that of Western culture. The tragedy is that some amongst us conduct themselves in ways which perpetuate that brutal legacy.
While our communities suffer under the burden of poverty, inequality, unemployment, this DA government has undermined the dignity, heritage and culture of the very victims of Colonialism.
Substance and gangsterism are destroying our youth.
The movie “Krotoa” depicts the story of the young Khoi woman who tried to mediate between the new Dutch settlers and her people, the Khoi.
Then “Kaushik” tells the story of a brave young man, Kalushi Solomon Mahlangu. A freedom fighter and soldier of the people’s army,
Umkhonto weSizwe, Mahlangu was the son of a domestic worker and had become active after the Soweto uprisings. His dying words are part of our heritage today: “Tell my people that I love them and that they must continue the fight, my blood will nourish the tree that will bear the fruits of freedom, Aluta continua.”
But I believe a movie must also be made and the story told as to how this DA-led government, since 2009, did not build on the momentum started by Premier Rasool to engage our traditional leaders in the Western Cape. It is a fact that Premier Rasool met five times with our traditional leaders from 2004 to 2008. And that Premier Lynne Brown had two meetings exploring the possibility of establishing a House of Traditional Leaders in the Western Cape.
But since becoming Premier in 2009, Helen Zille has never met with the Griqua Royal House or the PEC of the Congress of Traditional Leaders in the Western Cape. Or the Kaikoerannas.
In 2011, she declined an invitation to attend the commemoration of Adam Kok at the Castle.
This is disdain. Disrespect. A new form of brutalization by simply not listening.
We need to grasp the opportunity now presented by The Traditional Leadership and Khoi San Bill published in 2015. We need to be ready as the Western Cape to engage with this draft legislation which will finally recognize the Khoi and the San and our traditional leaders in the Western Cape. Let us engage and make sure that this legislation gives real powers, to our traditional leaders so that they too can have an impact on the lives of the people.
I want to give notice that the ANC Sub-region in Hessequa has already taken a decision in terms of the draft bill. Once the law has been passed, the ANC Hessequa sub- region will approach the Provincial Government to establish a House of traditional leaders in Hessequa.
There is great excitement about this and the prospects of the restoration of heritage sights, access to land and economic opportunities.
We as the ANC in the legislature will write to the chairperson of the standing committee on Cultural Affairs and Sport, Hon Lennit Max, and ask him to convene a meeting of traditional leaders to explore the possibility of developing a common approach to the public hearings which will commence in our province.
We trust that if this is agreed, Hon Max will not be removed as the chairperson of the standing committee.
His removal by the DA as Chair of Transport and Public Works is still fresh in our minds. To his credit member Max was ensuring that the committee played a strong oversight role. This clearly made the Chief Whip and others very uncomfortable.
But, should our request not be heeded, we as the ANC will engage directly with our traditional leaders to develop an approach which secures the best possible Traditional Leadership and Khoi San Law.
This is how we will build and secure our heritage. Today, tomorrow and for future generations. We cannot have peace and stability in a situation of war and conflict. Restoring our heritage, working for justice and against inequality are all part of our journey as a nation.
I thank you.