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Opening remarks by Deputy President David Mabuza delivered at the engagement with Traditional and Khoi-San leaders in the North West province

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Our host, the Premier of North West Province, Rre Kaobitsa Maape and Members of the Provincial Executive Council present here today;
 
Deputy Ministers Obed Bapela and Mcebisi Skwatsha;
 
The Chairperson of the National House of Traditional and Khoi-San Leaders, Nkosikazi Mhlauli, Ah! NoSandi!
 
The Chairperson of the Provincial House of Traditional and Khoi-San Leaders, Kgosi O.T.S. Maotwe;
 
All Traditional Leaders present;
 
Mayors present here today;
 
Esteemed traditional leaders,
 
1.   We take this time to appreciate your presence at today’s engagement in the province of Bokone Bophirima.
 
2.   Our sincere thanks go out to you Premier for always welcoming us warmly in your beautiful and vibrant province that is rich in history, culture and wildlife.
 
3.   Thank you for investing energy and dedication to support and facilitate this important engagement with Traditional and Khoi-San Leaders in this province.
 
4.   You have been consistent in your commitment of working with the national sphere of government whenever we join efforts with this province, focusing on bringing solutions to the province’s communities.
 
5.   In addition, we would like to thank you, our revered Dikgosi le Dikgosigadi for taking time out from your busy schedules to participate in today's discussion. We are encouraged by your persistence in resolving complex developmental issues confronting traditional communities and the traditional leadership sector.
 
Esteemed traditional leaders,
 
HERITAGE MONTH
 
6.   This meeting is taking place at the backdrop of Heritage Month in our country. During this month, various events and cultural activities take place throughout the country to celebrate our rich history and diverse cultures, including our traditions and languages in which we take enormous pride.
 
7.   It is through this month that we foster greater social cohesion and a shared national identity.
 
8.   The celebration of Heritage Month has created a conducive environment for all people to embrace and celebrate our inheritance from our forebears.
 
9.   In addition, this month is an opportune time to celebrate the hard-fought liberation heritage of our country. The liberation has also led to the birth of our Constitution.
 
10. Throughout our cultural history, traditional leadership has served as a custodian of our culture, customs, origins, and histories.
 
11. Moreover, Traditional Leaders have united communities, strengthened
 
the social fabric, and defended the way of life of the people as entrenched in our Constitution.
 
12. Traditional Leaders remain a powerful force in our democratic
 
 governance system across all spheres of government.
 
13.  As leaders, you remain a vital resource in our country in building a  democratic, non-racial, non-sexist, cohesive, united and prosperous  society where all of us realise our full potential.
 
Esteemed traditional leaders,
 
CURRENT CHALLENGES IN OUR COUNTRY
 
14. In line with realising these aspirations, we must continue to work together to address the myriad of challenges that continue to threaten the social fabric of our society. 
 
15. These challenges include unemployment, poverty, pervasive inequality, inadequate access to socio-economic and cultural
 
 infrastructure and services, and a lack of access to water for both households and agricultural development.
 
16. Historically, rural communities face isolation and have inadequate access to Information and Communication Technology services and infrastructure, often in sectors like education, health, and agriculture.
 
17. We need to attend to rural communities that remain underdeveloped and lack proper infrastructure.
 
18. To do this, deliberate and targeted investments in rural infrastructure networks are needed to give people access to clean water and sanitation services, electricity, and roads that connect people to places of work, schools, and hospitals.
 
19. It is general knowledge that traditional leaders have, over the course of time, brought up concerns for consideration by the government across a number of different areas of developmental work.
 
20. These issues have included the need for financial resources to enhance the capacity of traditional leadership institutions and structures to carry out their missions.
 
21. While the government is making progress on resolving some of the concerns at this time, there are still issues that are in the process of being reviewed and processed.
 
22. As a government, we remain committed to moving with speed in attending to any of the challenges or issues of concern in order to find lasting and sustainable solutions.
 
23.  As part of this commitment, the President established the Inter-Ministerial Task Team, which is being led by the Deputy President and tasked with overseeing the coordinated approach and response of the government to challenges that are affecting traditional leaders across the country.
 
24. Traditional leadership, as an institution located in the rural areas has a role to play in resolving these challenges, including social ills of gender-based violence, child abuse, crime, substance abuse and others.
 
25. Whereas Traditional Leaders and their ability to lead their communities is borne of experiences of the people, where there is no special training required, the evolution of modern societies, demands that certain skills be acquired to enable us to lead this country into a prosperous one.
 
26. Such skills and training, will equip us to understand dictates of the modern society that is characterised by technology and other forms of artificial intelligence. Therefore, we must work together to bring much needed change in our rural communities. 
 
27. In this regard, government stands ready to provide training where necessary, that would capacitate our institution and to enable Traditional and Khoi-San Leaders to fulfil their mandate.
 
28. As government, we believe and trust that with support of traditional leadership we will be able to develop programmes to redress or bring solution to any predicament.
 
29.  As we have gathered here today, we are aware of the challenges that you as Traditional and Khoi-San Leaders are facing. What we can promise you is that we will continue to work tirelessly in collaboration with yourselves towards the resolution of these challenges. 
 
30.   We have realised, through various provincial engagements and dialogues that your challenges as Traditional and Khoi-San Leaders, correlate across geographical areas.
 
31. One thing that remains a concern is the high HIV infection rate, especially among adolescent girls and young women. Since last year, we have conducted a number of engagements with Traditional and Khoi-San Leaders in the provinces of KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo, Mpumalanga and the Northern Cape, in collaboration with the South African National AIDS Council as part of our country’s integrated response to Covid-19, HIV, and TB.
 
32. As a country, we have made significant progress in responding to Covid-19, and continue to address HIV and TB in a multi-sectoral approach. We thank all Traditional and Khoi-San Leaders for the level of determination demonstrated in the fight against these pandemics.
 
33. However, it is not time to drop our guard. We must continue working together to fight these pandemics until we have zero new infection in our communities. We must continue to communicate to the youth, positive and empowering messages of safe sex and a healthy living as part of our prevention efforts.
 
Esteemed traditional leaders,
 
34. Issues that have been raised by yourselves as Traditional Leaders, include advancing land ownership, tenure rights and fast-tracking socio-economic development of rural communities; advancing  infrastructure investment and skills development in rural communities; promoting unity, social cohesion and nation building in rural communities; as well as fast-tracking the finalisation of policy, legislative and constitutional matters.
 
35. With regard to land administration and tenure, we are all aware that it is a thorny issue to people who live or seek to invest in areas under the authority of Traditional authorities.
 
36. This again emerged as a matter of robust debate during the Communal Land Administration and Tenure Reform Summit held in May this year.
 
37. The Summit succeeded in adopting resolutions that will go a long way
 
towards the development of appropriate policies and legislation related to land reform.
 
PROGRESS REPORT AND REFLECTIONS
 
38. The ongoing engagements between Government and Traditional Leaders on efforts of resolving challenges that impede development in rural communities, have brought to the fore the need for a closer working relationship between Government and Traditional Leaders across all levels.
 
39. In this regard, a range of mechanisms have been adopted, including the establishment, by President Ramaphosa, of the Inter-Ministerial Task Team on Matters Raised by Traditional and Khoi-San Leaders, as well as on-going dialogues and outreach engagements with Traditional and Khoi-San Leaders, such as the one we having here today.
 
40. In this regard, we are making some progress, and during the course of the day, you will hear more when the progress report on  government-coordinated response is presented.
 
41. We do appreciate that while issues faced by Traditional Leaders may have certain commonalities, there are some peculiar issues found in respective provinces, hence our visit here today so that we can solicit further input, and generate ideas on how we can jointly have solutions that are sustainable. 
 
Esteemed traditional leaders,
 
42. We will continue to strive to achieve the development and sustainability of rural communities by ensuring that land rights are provided and that ownership is transferred from the state to rightful owners.        
43. We will also be paying more attention to agricultural development, infrastructure development, improved and inclusive land use management, and targeted assistance to communities in rural areas.
 
44. It is important to prioritise access to land as a critical asset for rural development and economic transformation, so that the land held under the custodianship of Traditional and Khoi-San Leaders can be productively utilized for agriculture, human settlements and industrial development.
 
45. In partnership with Traditional and Khoi-San Leaders, the Government will ensure that ordinary people benefit from the commercial land use and extraction of natural resources on land owned by traditional communities.
 
Esteemed traditional leaders,
 
46. As Government, we will continue to engage with traditional leadership in order to address issues of concern to this sector and to rural communities.
 
47. As we move forward on the path of development, we need to ensure that the decisions taken are implemented. We must ensure that there is alignment in the resolution of the issues raised by respective leaders.
 
48. It is our hope that your active participation today will contribute to addressing prevailing challenges facing our rural communities.
 
49. Our efforts should be unified as partners to build a unified South Africa.
 
Thank you