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Opening remarks by Deputy President David Mabuza at the Dialogue with the National House of Traditional and Khoi-San Leaders, Pretoria

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Chairperson of the National House of Traditional and Khoi-San Leaders, Nkosikazi Mhlauli: Ah! NoSandi!,
Deputy Chairperson of the National House of Traditional and Khoi-San Leaders, Kgosi Seatlholo: Rapulana!,
Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs,
Amakhosi NaMakhosikazi,
Members of the National House of Traditional and Khoi-San Leaders,
Chairpersons and Deputy Chairpersons of Provincial Houses of Traditional and Khoi-San Leaders,
Cabinet Ministers and Deputy Ministers,
President and Deputy President of CONTRALESA,
Leadership of SALGA,
Leadership of the Municipal Demarcation Board,
Chairperson of the National Khoi-San Commission,
Directors-General,
Distinguished Guests,
 
When we met in Cape Town at the 6th Opening of the National House of Traditional and Khoi-San Leaders, we agreed that this institution remains an embodiment of our collective history, heritage and a common sense of national identity as the people of this country. The existence of this institution qualifies it to play a critical role in human development and that of traditional communities.
 
It is for this reason that we are committed to ensuring that the institution of Traditional and Khoi-San Leadership remains relevant in our democracy, and that it proactively responds to the needs, interests and aspirations of rural communities.
 
We also agreed that this year, the response to the address at the Opening of the National House of Traditional Leaders will take the format of a dialogue as per your humble request.
 
At this dialogue we expect to find each other as government and the institution of Traditional and Khoi-San Leaders, and that we emerge, having agreed on the course of action to take to ensure that the institution is enabled to fulfill its expected mandate.
 
We also reiterate how pleased we are at the genuine steps that you have taken towards the transformation of this sector. This is evident in the recent election of the Chairperson and the Deputy Chairperson respectively, who together, are representative of women and youth of our country.
 
The election of the Chairperson in particular boards well in affirming the ongoing struggle to have women in positions of authority. This election could not have come at a better time than now, when we take stock of strides that we have made under the observation of International Women’s Day this past Tuesday whose theme is, “Gender equality today for a sustainable tomorrow”.
 
On our part as government, we commit to supporting the leadership of the National House of Traditional and Khoi-San Leaders, by providing an enabling environment for the institution in order to succeed in positively affecting the overall development of our communities and the country, thereby instilling hope for a sustainable and better tomorrow.
 
This is in line with people’s expectations that their needs and aspirations; and that the realisation of their right to development is not stunted as a result of unnecessary contestations among ourselves and all spheres of government.
 
To achieve this, we have to work together in partnership and be at one in terms of the programme of action with clear implementation timelines, and encapsulated in a social compact between government and the institution. Unity of purpose, is the cornerstone for any society that aspires for greatness and is determined to prosper.
 
As we announced during the 6th opening of the National House, and during our engagements with Traditional Leaders in Limpopo Province last week, the President and this government are committed to respecting the role and contribution of Traditional and Khoi-San Leaders in the development agenda of the country. That is why, the President has established an Inter-Ministerial Task Team to deal with the specific issues that you have raised over time with government.
 
Whereas the issues that the Inter-Ministerial Task Team is entrusted to address may not necessarily be new matters, the very establishment of this Task Team, is an act of assurance by government that we are committed to their resolution.
 
Such a task requires that we work together in unison and not be distracted by partisan interest above those of people’s development. Our commitment to you, is to move faster in responding to any areas of concern that you may have, which may not be responded to, and may derail our efforts of building thriving communities and a prosperous nation.

The establishment of the Inter-Ministerial Task Team as a coordinating structure to respond to matters that you have raised, is an attempt to ensure that we consolidate our response in a much more integrated manner that will yield tangible and impactful results. We must not shy away from leaving no stone unturned. Having said that, we should be mindful that some issues will not be addressed overnight. 
 
Colleagues,
 
A lot of what we seek to do, was said during the 6th opening of the National House of Traditional and Khoi-San Leaders. This shall form the basis of our dialogue as well as the proposed solutions to prevailing challenges that we are confronted with as respective leaders and sectors. 
 
We are pleased that today at this dialogue, we have representation from national and local government, the Municipal Demarcation Board and the Commission dealing with Khoi-San matters.
 
Therefore, this dialogue presents an opportunity for us to place all the issues on the table, and ensure that we come out in agreement on the direction that we must take for the betterment of traditional communities we represent, as well as the prosperity of our country.
 
Our approach to this dialogue, is structured around the pillars of:
 
- land ownership, tenure rights and economic development,

- economic development in rural communities,

- social cohesion and nation building,

- policy and legislation on powers and functions of Traditional and Khoi-San Leaders in issues of development, and

- institutional capacity and support to the institution of Traditional and Khoi-San Leadership in rendering services to respective communities. 
 
We have with us today Ministers who form part of the Inter-Ministerial Task Team, and they will provide inputs on these matters in order for us to have a substantive engagement that is solution-oriented. We hope to hear from respective provincial Houses of Traditional and Khoi-San Leaders, perspectives from provinces on where we are, best practices and how to take all our other proposals forward.
 
We are pleased that much work is taking place within government to address some of the issues that the institution has been raising, and this ensures that we will not be reinventing the wheel on some of these matters.
 
As we implement all these initiatives, we are mindful of some constraints presented by COVID-19. We appreciate the ongoing guidance and support that the institution of Traditional and Khoi-San Leadership has provided since government first introduced COVID-19 containment measures as well as on the rollout of vaccines against the Coronavirus.
 
During today’s deliberations, we look forward to hearing further from Traditional and Khoi-San Leaders on the implementation of the COVID-19 Risk Adjusted Strategy, including responding to the update on this Strategy that will be provided by the Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs.
 
Furthermore, we would like to remind all present today that the month of March is regarded as TB month world-wide, because on the 24th of March each year, the world commemorates those who lost their lives to TB.
 
It also is a month to mobilise all sectors of society to play an active role in the fight against TB. The burden of this disease remains a leading cause of death and ill-health globally, and particularly in South Africa.

During the 2019 commemoration, we appealed to Traditional and Khoi-San Leaders to be champions of TB messages in their communities and help in finding the missing TB patients. We did this for we understood the important role and influence that Traditional and Khoi-San Leaders have in our country, more specifically within traditional communities.
 
That same appreciation of your role in the fight against TB equally applies to your role in the fight against COVID-19 and in the advancement of development generally.
 
No one should die from this curable disease.
 
This remains our rallying call to this day as we move towards this year’s World TB day commemoration to be hosted in Frances Baard District Municipality in the Northern Cape Province, and our call for concerted policy in action in the fight against TB, HIV/AIDS, STIs, COVID-19 and all other non-communicable diseases.
 
Let us continue to work together with communities to end TB.
 
In conclusion, we appeal that we use this time to engage one another in a manner that proposes solutions, and we utilise this dialogue to further communicate to society that to us, collectively, it is the people’s interests that matter the most than our petty contestations, and we dare not fail in moving our country forward.
 
Thank you.