Address by the Premier, Ms Sylvia Lucas at the official opening of the Provincial House of Traditional Leaders Northern Cape Provincial Legislature 23 June 2015

The Chairperson of the Provincial House of Traditional Leaders, Kgosi PS Bareki
Honourable Speaker and Deputy Speaker of the Provincial Legislature
Honourable Members of the Executive Council
Esteemed Members of the Provincial House of Traditional Leaders
Distinguished Guests,

Let me start off by extending my appreciation to the House for inviting me to this august occasion, marking the 3rd Session of the Second House of the Northern Cape Provincial House of Traditional Leaders.

As you are aware, the House of Traditional Leaders is an important organ of the state established by the Traditional Leadership and Governance  Framework Act 41 0f 2003, primarily charged with the responsibility of advising government on matters of culture and tradition.

The fact that a major part of our province is largely rural; it implies that a significant number of our people are under your jurisdiction as traditional leaders. This speaks to the huge task you have on your shoulders as traditional leaders in the Northern Cape. The role you have to play in shaping our democracy and building an egalitarian society is therefore insurmountable.
As President Zuma stated on the occasion of the sitting of the National House of Traditional Leaders this year, you should help us answer the following questions going forward:

  • How do we as a country, ensure that the institution of traditional leadership and communities occupy strategic positions within our democratic system, at national, provincial and local level?
  • How do we ensure the involvement of the institution in government programmes and allow it to contribute towards job creation and the improvement of the quality of life of the majority of our people?
  • How do we ensure that our democratic system operates efficiently and recognises the existence of the traditional system of governance?
  • How do we build a symbiotic relationship between the two systems of governance?
  • How do traditional institutions give expression to the democratic ethos and practice of our country and the development of our children and youth as leaders of tomorrow?

The President went further to state that, “The answers to these critical questions will define the relevance of the institution of traditional leadership and communities in the current social, political and economic environment”.

Chairperson,

Over the past twenty one years of freedom in our country, successive administrations were hard at work in an effort to build working relations with the Institution of Traditional Leadership. Together we have recorded milestone achievements in respect of legislation and systems we have put in place.

The existence of this very House at all three spheres of government, the promulgation of Traditional Leadership Governance and Framework Act, the appointment of support staff in Traditional Authority offices and the envisaged Traditional Council are in themselves evidence of the success of our partnership.

Nevertheless Chairperson of the Houses, we have come to the opening of this august House, conscious of the many challenges that still require our collective attention and action.

The establishment of traditional councils as directed by the Act is obviously long overdue. The resolution of all outstanding matters related to the tools of trade for traditional leaders, the construction of decent offices, let alone outstanding leadership disputes and claims cannot be overemphasized.

In is in this context that the House is called upon to help government to move with the necessary speed towards the finalization of these matters.

Chairperson,

A chilly winter season is literally upon us, a season that in the context of our tradition in the province is known also as the Initiation Season. Hundreds of parents will again surrender their children to your care as traditional leaders so that you can help initiate them into manhood.
This is not just an annual ritual; it is a cornerstone of our tradition and cultural practices.

Over the years, we have, as Government tried our best to offer support to you as traditional leaders to ensure the dignity of the traditional initiation practice. We have done this because of mushrooming opportunistic elements who have sought to abuse this sacred practice of our people for commercial ends.

Because of this narrow and at times even criminal pursuit for profit, we have in the past lost lives unnecessarily. This is obviously not good for the image of this important practice. There is absolutely no reason, whatsoever, for any person to run an illegal initiation school. Those who are hell-bent on doing things the wrong way are unfortunately doing so at the peril of our culture.

We should obviously not allow them to continue with their self- serving and criminal acts. We should stand up for our culture which is our heritage. No one should be allowed to spoil this noble cultural practice of our people.

I must however, commend the able leadership you have demonstrated over the years. Despite diversity in customs and practices, you have done very well minimizing and avoiding deaths at our initiation schools. We will be happy to record no such deaths, because one life lost is one too many.

And for this to happen, you must accept the challenge to ensure that all initiation schools in your jurisdictions are properly approved and run in accordance with the mutually agreed guidelines and the law. If we do not do this, we will be auctioning our culture to the altar of Western practices.

Having said this, our request is thus that you spearhead the process of drafting the Provincial Initiation Bill to address and regulate initiation schools in the Province.

Chairperson,

Beyond the preservation and advancement of their culture and traditions, our people put their trust in you for the economic development of their communities. Those communities that are still without drinking water, electricity, proper roads and decent sanitation look up to you to work together with local authorities to ensure that these services are provided.

The communities that still yearn for infrastructure development necessary to unlock economic opportunities rely on you to work with local government to ensure that such developments takes place.

The truth is that with infrastructure investments such as the development of townships in rural areas, shopping malls, filling stations, road constructions and many such activities, our people are able to find jobs and other economic opportunities for their livelihoods.

It is in this context that you should be seen working for development and not to be mistaken to be working against development of your communities. At the same time, you are not expected to merely be on the sideline of development in your communities, you must lead and direct such a development.

As I said earlier on, the democratic government has put in place sufficient legislative framework to ensure better working relation between municipalities and traditional councils on matters related to rural development. Let us explore these mechanisms for the benefit of our people.

Chairperson,

We are committed to restoring the dignity of the institution of traditional leadership, because this is the most authentic leadership of our people. It is in this context that that national government has begun assisting traditional institutions with the necessary tools of trade that will enable them to provide services to the communities.

In our Province, through the Department of Co-operative Governance, Human Settlements and Traditional Affairs, we have acquired vehicles and accompanying petrol cards for our Traditional Leaders to assist them in serving our communities optimally.

You would also be happy to note that the National Traditional Affairs Bill is being processed to address the thorny issue of disparities in the treatment of traditional leaders. The President, Mr. Jacob Zuma, this year in his state of the Nation Address also made a commitment to sign the Traditional and Khoi-San Leadership and Governance Bill before the end of this year.

In conclusion Chairperson,

I have no doubt that as the Provincial House of Traditional Leaders you will always raise with us as government those issues that affect not only yourselves but your communities. I am confident that you will henceforth elevate your voices in various Municipal Councils you sit in for the benefit of the constituencies you represent.

I must also emphasize that this government will always depend on your support, as traditional leaders, in carrying out its mandate and obligations, especially in the rural communities where the majority of our people come from.

We have come this far working together, and united in action, we must do more to accelerate the delivery of services to our people.

Let us learn from the words of Pixley ka Isaka Seme. In his article entitled the Native Union in which he motivated for the establishment of the now African National Congress, in October 1911, Pixley ka Isaka Seme stated the following; “Co-operation is the key and the watchword which opens the door, the everlasting door which leads into progress and all national success. The greatest success shall come when man shall have learned to cooperate, not only with his own kith and kin but with all peoples and with all life”.

We look forward to working with you this year in advancing the provincial priorities to improve the lives of our people.

Together we move can move the Northern Cape Province forward.

I thank you.


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