The National House of Traditional and Khoisan Leaders (NHTKL) is expected to debate President Cyril Ramaphosa’s recent speech which he delivered during the annual opening of the House that was hosted in the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) on 23 February. The debate will take place in Pretoria on Friday.
The Presidency says among the guests who are expected to attend the dialogue, include some Cabinet Ministers and Deputies, Premiers, MECs in the Traditional Affairs portfolio, Kings, the business and religious sectors, representatives from Institutions Supporting Constitutional Democracy (Chapter 9 Institutions), Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), representatives from the Southern African Development Community (SADC), EXCO Members of Provincial Houses of Traditional Leaders (PHTL) as well as the National Khoisan Council (NKC).
During his address last month, Ramaphosa told the leaders of the House that their election and gathering had taken place at a time when the country has been facing many challenges, including the effects of COVID-19, poverty, unemployment, rising living costs, inequality, gender- based violence, femicide and the recent devastating floods.
” Earlier we were talking with Minister Dlamini-Zuma about the horrific floods that are devastating many parts of our country and the devastation is or to be felt in our rural areas were many of our people live, where the infrastructure is not that well geared to sustain the type of floods that we are having”.
In his address, Ramaphosa also paid tribute to the former Chairperson of the National House of Traditional and Khoisan Leaders, Nomandla Mhlauli. She took over as Chairperson of the House after the passing of the former Chairperson of the House, Inkosi Sipho Mahlangu, who lost his battle against a COVID-19 related illness in July 2021.
Mhlauli who was Mahlangu’s Deputy, served as Chairperson until the election of a new leadership last year where Kgosi Thabo Seatlholo was elected as new Chairperson. Mhlauli was the first female Chairperson of the National House. The President acknowledged the role that Mhlauli played when she was chairperson.
” You have really distinguished yourselves as you served our nation. You leave a formidable legacy and strong foundation on which to build a South Africa that we want. It was a great joy for me and indeed, I think for Minister [Nkosazana] Dlamini-Zuma in the manner in which we continued to work with her. And we worked with her during the trying times of COVID as we convened forum after forum, meeting after meeting and she was always there making her inputs, very possible suggestions and never did I hear her raising a complaint without accompanying that issue she was raising, without a solution. So, she was solution-oriented, and I truly honour and thank her.”
Ramaphosa also challenged the House over the inclusion of more women in the structure.
“It is my hope that this House will also continue to advance the empowerment of women and the achievement of gender equality within this institution. She certainly distinguished herself in that way as well, as she sought to advance the interest of women. We should be inspired by many of our pioneering women leaders.”
Ramaphosa addresses the House:
The President further conceded that migration is one of the topical issues that Traditional and Khoisan Leaders want to be addressed.
” I am also delighted that you have found time, Minister Aaron Motsoaledi was telling me last night that he spent time with yourselves discussing the issues of migration. Those issues of migration are topical. They are important to you because as you do your work, issues of migration come rushing towards you.”
“You have to deal with people from other lands, who are undocumented, who are illegal and he told me that he pleaded with all of you that you should work together. So, there is a lot that we should be working together on. From local government to issues of migration. Issues of crime, issues of economic development,” Ramaphosa added.
Following Ramaphosa’s address, some of the leaders from the National House who spoke to SABC News in Parliament said there are multiple issues that have to be addressed. The Chairperson of the National House Kgosi Seatlholo emphasised that more will be revealed during the debate on Friday.
” We are really going at length because there is a whole range of issues. There are issues of economic development, state security. We are sitting now with a lot of unemployed graduates in our communities. We are also going to address the identity crisis where we would want our people to be comfortable in their own skin, in their own natural hair and so forth.”
‘Don’t destroy or burn the little that we have’
Kgosi Seatlholo also called on rural communities to preserve the little infrastructure they have, even when they are protesting.
” We would just like to urge our communities, because we are about thirteen months to the elections. We are going to be experiencing a lot of turmoil in our communities where you know there will be blockages of roads and all of that. We support the communities in standing up for their rights. We are just requesting them not to burn or destroy the little that we have, as we strife to get government to do what it has committed to do, can we safeguard our libraries, our roads and whatever else that is in our rural communities because rural communities have very little development. We cannot be finding ourselves destroying the little that we have because we want something else. But we absolutely support our communities in demanding for more.”
‘We want implementation, not talk shows’
The Congress of Traditional Leaders of South Africa (CONTRALESA) was disappointed that the President’s speech did not touch on implementation.
” As CONTRALESA we were expecting more, I must say because he unleashed the Deputy President (David Mabuza) to go around provinces and all provinces, we told government what are the challenges that negatively affecting traditional leaders. We thought today they will be giving feedback on what they are going to do as government.”
” But instead, he is still referring us to the dialogue that is coming on the 17th of March. We are not excited about it. But we are hopeful that on the 17th it won’t be a talk-show. As CONTRALESA, we don’t want talk-shows, we want them to implement. We have been telling them what affects traditional leaders but they have not been implementing”, CONTRALESA President Kgoshi Mathupa Mokoena expressing his dissatisfaction.
The Chairperson of the National Khoisan Council (NKC) Cecil Le Fleur said the President’s speech was vague, but says he remains hopeful.
“The President made his statements in a very general manner. He did focus on the issues that is very sensitive to us. The issues of land, the issues of recognition, the issues of equal and fair inclusion in the institutions of traditional affairs, so we are pleased that he definitely touched on the issues that is important for us”
” And what gives us more hope is that after the speech, we met with him and he promised me from his side, not that I asked him about it, but he came out of his own and he said he wants to meet with us, we want to discuss the issues that I have referred to”, Le Fleur added.
GALLERY | Images captured by Mercedes Besent on 23 February 2023 outside the NCOP: