President Cyril Ramaphosa has praised the efforts of uMgogodla kaZulu, a group comprising the spouses of traditional leaders and women traditional leaders, for their commendable work in addressing the challenges posed by the recent floods in KwaZulu-Natal.

Addressing the annual official opening of the National House of Traditional and Khoi-San Leaders (NHTKL) in Cape Town on Thursday, the President said it was pleasing to note that the institution of traditional and Khoi-San leadership is playing its role in assisting communities.

The President told the traditional and Khoi-San leaders that climate change is a growing concern in South Africa. He said the recent flooding, together with other extreme weather events, are a stark reminder that the country cannot be complacent about this grave threat to both lives and livelihoods.

“It is pleasing to note that the institution of traditional and Khoi-San leadership is once again playing its role to assist communities. I specifically wish to commend the work done by the structure of spouses and female traditional leaders, called uMgogodla kaZulu, during the floods that engulfed KwaZulu-Natal.

“The Ondlunkulu stood up, in partnership with Al-Imdaad, Old Mutual, the Princess Gabo and Kaizer Junior Foundations, and others to help those who were affected by floods. We appreciate this valuable work,” the President said.

President Ramaphosa said he has been advised that several other provinces have formalised the structures of spouses and women traditional leaders of amaKhosi.

He implored the House to continue working together with provincial Houses of Traditional and Khoi-San Leaders to ensure that such structures are established and capacitated.

30 Years of Democracy

In his State of the Nation Address delivered earlier this month, the President reflected on the journey South Africa has traversed over the past 30 years since attaining freedom.

“As a nation, we can also be proud of the journey we have travelled, according to the institution of traditional leadership and the stature it deserves.

“Today, our Kings are recognised as Kings, as opposed to Paramount Chiefs, a term which colonial and apartheid rule introduced to make it clear that in their minds the real Kings were only those found in Europe.

“Today, we have a National House of Traditional and Khoi-San Leaders that plays an active and meaningful role in our national life,” the President said.

President Ramaphosa expressed the wish that more Khoi-San leaders will be brought into the fold and be formally recognised under the Traditional and Khoi-San Leadership Act.

He said that the Commission on Khoi-San Matters has been appointed to receive and assess applications for recognition and make recommendations to the Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs.

While the process is taking longer than was initially envisaged, the President has appealed that the Commission be allowed the space to continue with this complex historical mission that they have been assigned.

Addressing unemployment

The President told the House that they have a shared responsibility to work together to address the country’s unemployment crisis, particularly among young people.

He highlighted that the Presidential Youth Employment Intervention, the National Youth Service and the Youth Employment Service are just some of the initiatives government is implementing that are making a difference.

“I call on this House to play an active role in the ongoing process of recruiting young people into the National Rural Youth Service Corps that is being coordinated by the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development.

“The InvestRural blueprint handed over to me by the former Chairperson of this House, the late iNkosi Mahlangu, is being fused into government programmes.

“The training of young people by the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development is a practical example of this. Another is the work being done by the Department of Traditional Affairs in partnership with the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy to streamline and integrate Social Labour Plans into industry operations,” he said.

The President further told the House that the Welisizwe Rural Bridges Programme coordinated by the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure is yet another example of positive and meaningful change being brought to rural areas. Just last month he attended the launch of one of these bridges in KwaZulu-Natal.

“To witness the difference these bridges are making in the lives of rural communities, especially for young learners who need to cross rivers to get to school, is remarkable,” he said.

Capacity building

The President has emphasised that capacity building is essential if the country is to enhance the role traditional leaders play in development.

In this regard, he welcomed the partnership between the Department of Traditional Affairs and the National School of Government to provide training on, among others, facilitating socio-economic development for traditional communities.

The programme is aimed at empowering traditional leaders to act as change agents in their communities, and to transfer new knowledge and skills for the activation of sustainable economic interventions in rural areas.

“Our goal is an active rural citizenry, with our traditional leaders at the helm. The issue of transferring communal land to traditional councils is one of great interest to this House.

“As government, we are in the process of finalising the bill on communal land, which will be followed by extensive consultations.

“I know that this process is taking longer than expected, but democracy requires that we give society a voice in matters that concern them,” he said.


Turning to the challenges facing initiation, President Ramaphosa said that these should be decisively addressed.

“We cannot continue to have customary initiation being turned into a harmful practice.

“We need to do all in our powers as government, communities, traditional leaders, the National Initiation Oversight Committee and provincial structures to put to an end to these unnecessary and entirely avoidable deaths and injuries,” he said.

The President further urged the House to continue to monitor and guide provinces and various local houses on the provisions of the Customary Initiation Act.

“We must live up to the slogan of ‘Mabaye Bephila, Babuye Baphila’,” he said.

Traditional Courts Act

The President told the House that he has assented to the Traditional Courts Act and will soon be proclaiming the date on which it comes into effect.

In the meantime, he said, the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development and the Department of Traditional Affairs have started with some of the preparatory work that will facilitate implementation.

This includes visiting some of the traditional councils to further discuss their approaches to alternative dispute resolution and the resources they deploy in this regard. The President added that this is a matter on which they have finally made good progress.

On concerns expressed by the House with regards to involving traditional leadership more in the work of the Inter-Ministerial task Team, President Ramaphosa said that he, along with the Deputy President, is seized with the matter of ensuring that members of this House are invited to workstream meetings and are able to participate more fully.

Exercise your right to vote

The President said on 29 May, South Africans will be going to the polls to vote in the seventh democratic elections for national and provincial government.

As the country prepares for this historic occasion, President Ramaphosa has once again urged traditional leaders to continue to encourage all eligible voters to register and participate in these elections.

“As we have done before, we call on traditional leaders to actively promote free and fair campaigning, and to ensure that all voters can exercise their democratic right.

“May you remain with the spirit of our forebears, who never retreated when challenges were facing them. Working side by side, we will move forward,” he said. –

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