Pretoria – President Jacob Zuma has expressed concern over land claimants who opt for money instead of land.
“The economic liberation of our people is fundamentally based on land redistribution and ownership and we cannot compromise on this,” he said.
Speaking at the Traditional Leaders Indaba currently underway in Boksburg, President Zuma said he has advised traditional leaders to appoint a firm of attorneys to assist in the issue of land. The leaders indicated that the National House of Traditional Leaders was engaging the Black Lawyers Association to assist.
The indaba is being held under the theme, ‘Unity in Diversity – Together moving South Africa forward for an inclusive prosperous future’.
President Zuma said it is the duty of the people to lodge land claims, but only where they have proof. He said traditional leaders can be very helpful in this regard because their predecessors and forefathers fought land wars.
“What is discouraging to our people is that over 90% of claims are currently settled through financial compensation, which does not help the process at all.
“It perpetuates the dispossession that we are trying to solve. We urge those who obtain land to utilise it for food production or any other use without selling it and undermining the transformation programme,” President Zuma said.
President Zuma said no unlawful occupation of land should be permitted and tolerated, as this will cause chaos in the country.
“Any mining or other economic activities happening in the areas of traditional leadership must ensure that the community owns a certain percentage,” the President said.
Recognising traditional leadership
In his welcoming remarks, Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Des van Rooyen said the indaba is an excellent opportunity for the institution of traditional leadership to ventilate their challenges, expound on their roles and reaffirm their commitment to the economic and social transformation of South Africa.
“The indaba offers you a platform to raise issues of concern around your understanding of the institution of traditional leadership and its mandate in a democratic South Africa. It fosters the creation of formal or recognised platforms and structures for further engagements and debate to promote dialogue.
“The indaba is an important avenue for the harmonisation of relationships with communities, other sectors and government,” he said.
Minister Van Rooyen said the indaba will assist in addressing the issue of cultural practices that threaten the legislative rights of individuals and communities.
“The role of traditional leaders in radical socio-economic transformation, especially on matters related to land, will also deserve further contemplation,” he said.
Minister Van Rooyen also told the delegates that his department has tabled the Traditional and KhoiSan Leadership Bill in Parliament to give effect to the recognition of the KhoiSan leaders, structures and their respective communities.
“The proposed legislation would be a milestone in the history of the Republic since it will allow for statutory recognition and participation in the establishment structures and institutions that interface with government,” he said.
Kgosi Takalani Manenzhe from Limpopo, one of the delegates attending the indaba, said he hopes the indaba will address some of the challenges they are faced with as the traditional leaders.
“We need to speak in one voice, especially on the issue of land. Land issues must be addressed thoroughly and that decisions taken must be implemented,” he said.
Member of the Congress of Traditional Leaders of South Africa, Ngubegusha Kona said that the indaba will strengthen the relationship between traditional leaders and government.
“In that way, the traditional leaders can assist government by sharing ideas when it comes to improving infrastructure, especially in the rural areas,” he said.
About 500 traditional leaders and government officials are attending the indaba, which ends on Friday.