Kgosi Maubane,Chairperson of the National House of Traditional Leaders,
Honourable Minister for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs and all Honourable Ministers and Premiers,
Honourable Deputy Minister Yunus
Carrim and all Deputy Ministers,
Chairpersons of all Provincial Houses of Traditional Leaders
Kgosi Makgeru, Deputy Chairperson of the NHTL
Esteemed traditional leaders,
National Khoisan Council
Chairperson, it is indeed a great pleasure for me to be afforded an opportunity to engage with you, our esteemed traditional leaders today.
It is an honour for me in particular, to address a newly elected National House of Traditional Leaders. Allow me to congratulate all members on being elected by their provincial houses to the National House.
I also wish to congratulate the Honourable Chairperson and Hon Deputy Chair on being elected into these challenging positions of leading the institution of traditional leadership to the next level.
I also want to thank the outgoing members of the National House of Traditional Leaders for their contribution within the institution of traditional leadership.
The House has been re-constituted during a challenging time in our country when we are working harder to deal with poverty, unemployment and inequality in the midst of a global economic crisis.
Today we therefore pledge our willingness to work with traditional leaders as we lead our people to a prosperous society.
Chairperson, more importantly, I am informed that this term of the house is aligned with all structures of traditional leadership in the Republic of South Africa.
This implies that these Houses must be able to create a sound working relationship from a Traditional Council level up to National level. The voices of Amakhosi and their communities must be heard in all spheres of government.
We meet as the country prepares to celebrate national children’s day on Saturday the 3rd of November.
We use National Children’s Day to reflect on the progress that we have made in realising and promoting the rights of children.
There can be no better indicator to highlight our progress than the National Census 2011 results which were released on the 30th of October.
Census 2011 points out that our country continues to have a youthful population. Just over a third of the population is under the age of 15.
Our focus on improving the quality of education is therefore well-placed. We are therefore pleased that the Census results showcase the strides we have made in educating our country’s children.
According to Census results, the proportion of children with no schooling has halved over the period between 1996 and 2011. There is also a huge increase in the enrolment of our children from pre-school to primary and high school right up to tertiary level.
The proportion of our children who complete matric has also increased significantly from 16% in 1996 to 29% in 2011.
We are also investing in achieving quality health care, water, sanitation, electricity, roads and housing so that our children, especially the black majority, can have a better future than their parents and grandparents.
Regarding access to basic services for example, the percentage of people accessing tap water increased from 32,3% in 2001 to 46,3% in 2011.
About 84,7% of households now use electricity for fuel, while 60% of households have proper flushing toilets, with the use of the bucket system dropping from 4,1% in 2001 to 2,1% in 2011.
This shows how far government has progressed with regard to service delivery in this democratic era.
Among the main challenges that the census reports indicate is the pattern of rural to urban migration. People still flock to the cities, especially Gauteng, to seek better opportunities.
This suggests that we have to do more to advance rural development and improve opportunities, so as to stem this tide.
We are encouraged by the Census results as it means we are on the right track. I am sure that as traditional leaders you share my excitement given our collective responsibility of building a better and brighter future for all.Together we must now build on this success.
We need to work together further to alleviate poverty in rural areas and build a truly caring society.
The deep-seated poverty and inequality makes our people vulnerable, and breeds social unrest of the like that was experienced in Marikana in North West, where more than 40 people lost their lives violently.
We are raising this matter here because most of those who died come from izindawo zamakhosi, with many from the Eastern Cape.
The Marikana Commission of Inquiry is working to establish what happened in August so that we can prevent similar tragic incidents in future in our beautiful country.
Allow me to extend my deepest condolences to izinkosi from the Eastern Cape Province who lost their people in the Marikana incidents. Your loss is our loss too, as these are our people. We share the pain, all South Africans were shocked and pained by the incidents.
As South Africans we should provide our support to all the families. We support the families of those who died between the 10th and the 12th of August and those who lost their lives on the 16th of August. All were horrific and painful separate incidents that should never occur again in our country.
Sikhala nemindeni yalabo ababaluwa ngasekuqaleni kodlame eMarikana kanye neyalabo abadutshulwa amaphoyisa.
We met recently with representatives of business, labour and the community sector to discuss the global economic situation including the wild cat strikes that had taken place in the country. We emerged with an economic package to help us respond to the situation.
Let me take this opportunity to reiterate that violence and intimidation must come to an end in those areas where strikes are still continuing. The constitutionally-protected rights to protest and strike must be exercised peacefully.
There is no need to resort to chaos and anarchy. We urge workers to return to work and use the constitutional mechanisms of conducting labour relations.
We thank all workers who have heeded the call to get back to work. They can continue to negotiate with employers within the ambit of the law, using the country’s tried and tested labour framework. Our economy needs stability during this global economic recession.
In our meeting with business, labour and the community sector we agreed to attend to the urgent needs of people in key secondary mining towns and areas.
· West Rand
Business committed to use monies provided for in Social Plans as well as other social interventions to support local social and economic development.
Trade unions and community organisations committed to mobilise local communities for development and in support of the initiatives set out herein.
The parties agree that steps need to be taken urgently to address the large income inequalities in SA, which are a primary risk to our future as a sustainable and successful society.
Already Cabinet took a decision last week to freeze the increases in the salaries of members next year.
There is a lot of work to be done to return the situation to normality in affected communities. With collective leadership as government, traditional leaders, business and labour we will be able to recover lost ground and continue the mission of building our country.
Ladies and gentlemen,
You will recall that Government established the Commission on Traditional Leadership Disputes and Claims which was commonly known as the Nhlapho Commission.
The aim of the said Commission was to restore the dignity of the institution of traditional leadership.
However, it did not conclude its mandate because the term of office ended.
We have established a new Commission on Traditional Leadership Disputes and Claims that is composed of five full -time members. This Commission is chaired by Mr. Bagudi Jonathan Tolo.
It is expected to finalize all claims and disputes that were lodged with the previous Commission before the end of its term.
The Commission inherited one thousand two hundred and forty four (1 244) claims and disputes when it came to office in January 2011. I must mention chairperson that the said Commission has already processed 139 claims and disputes.
This means the commission is very likely to finalise all the claims by 2015 when its term of office comes to an end.
Ladies and gentlemen,
You are also aware of the longstanding Traditional Courts Bill, which offers the prospect of access to justice to 18 million of our citizens who reside within the ambit of the traditional justice system.
Traditional communities of South Africa find the traditional justice system more accessible and flexible in resolving their disputes.
However, government has come to a realisation, following public hearings both in Parliament and in local communities, that there are genuine concerns as traditional courts operate outside a proper legislative framework. This leads to accusations of irregularities and abuses in the system.
The Traditional Courts Bill was then introduced to extend constitutional provisions to traditional justice.
However, since its introduction, the Bill has been criticised for being flawed for a number of reasons. They include the following:
· That it is unconstitutional in that it prohibits legal representation in traditional courts.
· That it does not contain provisions to ensure that women form part of the courts nor does it go far enough to ensure that women can participate actively in the deliberations of the courts;
· That it entrenches the balkanisation of traditional communities in accordance with the boundaries of the old tribal authorities of the defunct Bantustans;
· That it restricts access to justice by denying the right of persons to “opt out” of the traditional justice system and pursue redress of their matters in courts of law.
· Traditional leaders will have more powers under the Bill.
All the concerns raised in respect of the Bill are being addressed as part of the on-going parliamentary process.
Already Government, through the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development, has put forward certain recommendations on the bill.
Our view is that the nature and the value system of the traditional courts of promoting social cohesion and reconciliation must be recognised and strengthened in the Bill.
The Bill should address the gender prejudices and patriarchal tendencies of the past.
We also would like the Bill to be improved to ensure that the right of access to court enshrined in the Constitution is not undermined. This would give people the right to access ordinary courts of law where such courts have jurisdiction over the dispute.
Another recommendation is that the appeal dispensation contemplated in the Bill should be revised as it is undesirable for the decisions of traditional courts to be taken on appeal to courts of law which apply a different value system.
The above recommendations will guide possible amendments to the Traditional Courts Bill by the NCOP.
There are initiatives by Parliament to extend the deadline of 31 December 2012. The extension will provide the much required time for further public engagement in this important legislative process.
Chairperson, let me remind the House that next year marks the centenary of the 1913 Land Act and that this matter would require debate within this House, assessing what has been done thus far, and what we can do to resolve the land question within the framework of the Constitution.
The importance of land was best articulated by Dr AB Xuma, one of the heroes of our struggle and former president of the ANC in 1941 who said the following:
“The fundamental basis of all wealth and power is the ownership and acquisition of freehold title to land. From land, we derive our existence. We derive our wealth in minerals, food, and other essentials. On land we build our homes. Without land we cannot exist. To all men of whatever race or colour land, therefore, is essential for their wealth, prosperity, and health. Without land-rights any race will be doomed to poverty, destitution, ill-health and lack of all life`s essentials’’.
Land is fundamental to the improvement of the quality of lives in rural communities. We therefore urge this house to enrich the debate on land during that centenary.
Esteemed leaders of our people,
We must work together as a team to improve the lives of rural communities. We pledge our cooperation and support to this House as you play your role, contributing to building a prosperous South Africa.
I wish you all the best in your task as you work to fulfill that goal.
I thank you.