Chairperson of the National House of Traditional Leaders,
Ministers and Deputy Ministers,
Chairpersons of the Provincial Houses of Traditional Leaders,
Ladies and gentlemen,
Dumelang! Molweni! Good Morning!
I wish to thank all the esteemed speakers who participated in the debate today.
I have listened intently to your wise counsel and proposals.
As President of the Republic, I am fully committed to work with you to improve the lives of our citizens, especially those that live in our rural hinterland.
Having listened to you, I am more convinced that to defeat underdevelopment, unemployment and poverty, we need to involve our traditional leaders more purposely and more effectively.
I am more convinced that traditional leaders must be central to our national strategies to ignite inclusive rural economic development.
This is an institution that has a critical role to play in the delivery of roads, clinics and schools.
We salute you for the sterling work that you are performing day by day to make a difference in the lives of our communities.
Princess Motshabi, without the outstanding work of traditional leaders in health, South Africa will lose more people to preventable and treatable diseases like tuberculosis and HIV.
We applaud our traditional leaders for answering the call in our national strategic plan to reduce the spread of these epidemics.
We thank you for addressing these diseases using the language, traditions and practices of our people.
We have no doubt that innovative approaches to fight drugs and crime in our communities will benefit greatly from the collective wisdom of our traditional leaders.
Kgosi Toto and Inkhosi Ngomane,
We certainly must put behind us the terrible temptation to conceive and plan development that affects traditional leadership without consulting and involving traditional authorities.
Government, business and labour must sincerely engage you are and communities on plans for mining, infrastructure development and service delivery.
As I said recently in my reply to the debate on the State of the Nation Address, our people better understand their challenges and are eager to lend a hand to improve their circumstances.
Our people, like you, are saying: “Nothing about us without us.”
Our most vulnerable and poor people, many of whom live in remote villages, should not be worried that the payment of their grants may be interrupted.
One of the priorities of the Minister of Social Development is to work with you to finalise appropriate measures to stop loan sharks who prey on vulnerable social grant recipients.
In my address in this House on Monday, I emphasised that we need to urgently implement the 2017 Indaba Resolutions on the status of the institution of traditional leaders, its work and its future.
I agree with Kgoshi Mokoena and others that we need to do more to speed up the processing of relevant legislation.
Where there are legislative challenges, we need to be transparent and engage further.
I will ask the newly-appointed Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Dr Zweli Mkhize, to draft a detailed plan on how all the issues that you have raised this morning will be addressed timeously.
It was heartening to hear about the many exciting and innovative ideas on how we can commercially exploit our living and natural heritage.
I agree with Inkosi PT Zulu and Inkosi Ndevu that we need to do more to celebrate our identity, culture, songs and stories.
We need to do more to preserve, develop and promote our heritage for local and international tourists.
We need more young people to get involved in the heritage sector and tourism industry.
We urge established business to spend time with our rural communities developing heritage products and tourism routes that will boost local economies.
Working with academia, entrepreneurs and destination marketers, we must use the upcoming Investment Summit to present solid investment proposals in agriculture, heritage, tourism and mining to boost rural economies.
The National Local Economic Development Summit held in November 2016 agreed to add Local Economic Development as a sixth pillar of the Back to Basics programme.
This was done to ensure that local economic development becomes a more prominent feature of the responsibilities of local government.
Last year, Government hosted the 3rd Presidential Local Government Summit.
The Summit defined a local government developmental agenda that is aligned to the 2030 National Development Plan Vision.
The driving vision of building developmental and responsive municipalities through collaboration between government, civil society, traditional authorities, business and residents remains critical.
Last year, government extended its free basic services programme, currently spending R41 billion through the equitable share to further alleviate poverty within communities.
The free basic services programme currently supports more than 3.5 million indigent households
The Accelerated Land Development and Redistribution Initiative facilitates the development of serviced land and provision of bulk infrastructure services in conjunction with local municipalities, finance institutions and private sector land developers.
The Operation Phakisa for agriculture, land reform and rural development endorsed the idea to establish an inclusive Rural Development Agency.
This agency would serve as an oversight structure for all rural development programmes.
The Department of Rural Development and Land Reform has made great strides to promote cooperation between government and industry on developing value chains.
The department has completed two studies on international opportunities for the fruit, nuts and vegetable industries.
There are plans to complete studies on international meat and fish markets.
And Kgosi Mabe, I agree with you that people in rural areas must benefit from the oceans in their vicinity.
It cannot be correct that only the big ships harvest our seas.
Kgoshi Dikgale talks about youth and unemployment.
Government is targeting the agricultural sector to create at least a million jobs by 2030, a target that can be achieved through increased youth participation.
Agriculture is experiencing both an ageing farmer population and, ironically, a high rate of unemployed graduates.
Working with you, we must improve the involvement of youth, women and people with disabilities in the agricultural sector.
To respond to this challenge, government has developed an Agricultural Graduate Placement Programme.
It is envisaged that 1,000 unemployed agricultural graduates will benefit from this initiative during this financial year.
Government is leading efforts to create an enabling environment to support the establishment of youth-owned and –managed enterprises.
National Treasury has made available R370 million over the Medium Term Expenditure Framework period to be used to support smallholder producers through the black producer commercialisation programme.
Additional funding from the Comprehensive Agricultural Support Programme has been earmarked to increase this grant fund pool and ensure more funding institutions are able to partner with government.
The NDP enjoins us to work together to create tenure security for communal farmers, especially women.
As we have said in the Plan, successful land reform, job creation and rising agricultural production is key to the development of an inclusive rural economy.
I absolutely agree with speakers who said that that land is our heritage.
Indeed, it is an essential part of our being, of our past and our future.
To speak of land is to speak to our humanity and our dignity.
Thank you for reminding us of the farming skills that have been passed from one generation to the next by rural communities and traditional authorities.
You are also correct that we need to profile more of the positive stories of our African farmers.
We owe it to our children to refute the myth that Africans are not friends of commercial agriculture.
Where – because of the disruption of colonialism and apartheid – we have lost farming skills, we have an opportunity to enter agricultural colleges and learn from other successful commercial farmers.
It is in the interests of our common and inclusive future to have more successful commercial farmers, and this administration is fully committed to provide the necessary support.
On Tuesday, South Africans through their public representatives in parliament voted overwhelmingly in support of a motion to accelerate equitable land redistribution through expropriation of land without compensation.
The success of this vote has gotten South Africans, black and white, rich and poor, men and women, urban and rural, young and old, talking about land hunger and economic justice in our country.
It is a question that we will continue to handle with due care and responsibility.
There will be no smash and grab of land.
This matter will not be resolved without comprehensive consultation.
I will shortly initiate a dialogue with key stakeholders to explore the modalities to give effect to the resolution that was adopted by the 54th National Conference of the governing party.
What this moment requires is for people to engage with each other and to come up with proposals that can lead to a just and sustainable outcome.
In everything that we do, we will continue to be motivated by our vision of creating a truly equal, non-racial, non-sexist, democratic and prosperous South Africa.
We will continue to be inspired by the Freedom Charter vision that South Africa belongs to all those who live in it, black and white.
We have a perfect opportunity as a nation to make difficult, but correct and just choices that will serve to unite our nation long after we have departed this world.
Nearly 24 years into democracy, we have an opportunity to implement what we envisioned in the Reconstruction and Development Plan.
“No political democracy can survive and flourish if the mass of our people remain in poverty, without land, without tangible prospects for a better life. Attacking poverty and deprivation must therefore be the first priority of a democratic government.”
We must navigate our way motivated not by fear, prejudice and mistrust.
We must ensure that our choices reflect our hopes, not our fears.
Once again, thank you very much for your excellent contributions, which have enriched the national conversation and inspired us to move forward to create a more humane and united South Africa.
I thank you.