President Jacob Zuma addressed the National House of Traditional Leaders (NHTL) on Thursday morning at the Old Assembly Chamber in parliament this morning. He encouraged the tolerance, acceptance and understanding of different cultures.
“We will continue to promote the institution of traditional leadership in our country and this includes improving the legislative framework,” he said. “For example, we will introduce the Traditional and Khoi-San Leadership and Governance Bill this year. Currently, there is no legislation recognising the Khoi and San and there are gaps in the existing legislation on Traditional Leadership.”
Here’s a summary of the rest of the points he made:
“In the Sona, I outlined the nine-point economic intervention plan on the economy to generate growth. These include the following: energy, boosting agriculture, advancing beneficiation or adding value to our mineral wealth, encouraging private sector investment and moderating workplace conflict,” he said.
Zuma further mentioned that the importance of economic transformation includes supporting small and medium enterprises and cooperatives in townships and rural areas. “Our view is that black economic empowerment should not be limited to share ownership schemes only. We want to see industries owned by black people, for us to begin to deracialise the economy and broaden it to improve economic development and create jobs,” he said.
Land rights and ownership
Zuma quoted what former president of the ANC Dr AB Xuma said in 1941. “He said: ‘The fundamental basis of all wealth and power is the ownership and acquisition of freehold title to land. From land, we derive our existence. We derive our wealth in minerals, food, and other essentials. On land we build our homes. Without land we cannot exist. To all men of whatever race or colour land, therefore, is essential for their wealth, prosperity, and health’.”
He mentioned the Communal Land Tenure Policy that evolved into the Communal Land Bill, which is expected in Cabinet this year.
The President mentioned Fetsa Tlala, which means Eradicate Hunger, a five year premier food production intensification programme part of the Agriculture Action Plan. The government plans to put one million hectares of unused productive land in communal areas under production. “In this regard, black smallholder farmers are being supported by government throughout the country with mechanisation, marketing, technical and advisory services such that they can become the main producers of food,” he said.
Exciting future programmes
Zuma outlined new programmes that will be implemented in 2015 as part of the National Development Plan (NDP). Operation Phakisa that Zuma launched in 2014, will this year be expanded to the mining industry. “[We want to] partner with the mining sector to introduce down-stream beneficiation of the country’s mineral resources. I trust that traditional leaders will be able to participate in some of these programmes at the local level,” Zuma said.
The President also mentioned the Back to Basics approach that requires the government and its stakeholders to be more focused on addressing basic services in communities.
The National House of Traditional Leaders will debate Zuma’s speech next Tuesday, March 12.
Read the full speech here