President Cyril Ramaphosa said traditional leaders in the country should focus their attention on the struggles pertinent to this generation, namely women’s rights and youth unemployment.
Ramaphosa was delivering the keynote address at the 8th Elective Congress of the Congress of Traditional Leaders of South Africa (Contralesa).
Ramaphosa told traditional leaders the conference was taking place in the aftermath of one of the worst disasters in South Africa’s history after floods swept through parts of KwaZulu-Natal, Eastern Cape and the North West.
“I wish to commend the traditional leaders in these areas that have responded to the needs of their people, working to ensure that everyone is safe and has shelter, water and food,” said Ramaphosa.
The struggles of our time
Ramaphosa reminded traditional leaders the terrain of this struggle is different.
“It is not a struggle involving colonial wars. It is not a struggle against apartheid rule. Instead, it is a struggle to create a better life for our people,” he said.
Today’s generation’s biggest struggles are against poverty, inequality and unemployment.
“It is a struggle to promote social cohesion and nation-building,” the president told traditional leaders.
“It is a struggle to promote gender equality and to fight gender-based violence and femicide,” he added.
He reminded leaders that Inkosi Albert Luthuli, while already in his tenure as a senior traditional leader, had taken a decision to go against the grain and promote women’s participation in traditional governance.
In his book Let My People Go, Luthuli wrote: “I took the quite revolutionary step of admitting women to tribal councils.”
“Back then, inkosi Luthuli already had the foresight to use his position as a traditional leader to promote gender equality.
Now, the Presidential Advisory Panel on Land Reform and Agriculture report that in some instances, women are marginalised or discriminated against when it comes to inheriting and or owning land,” said Ramaphosa.
Ramaphosa wants traditional leaders to help make the country’s InvestRural program a success, saying, Developmental Monarchs had a huge role to play.
“The concept of developmental monarchs encourages traditional leaders to have different members of the community who are retired professionals, unemployed graduates and skilled people to craft the plans and vision of the institution,” explained the president.
He said Cultural tourism has the potential to revive economic activity in the tourism sector and therefore have a positive effect on rural communities.
“We need to create opportunities in all provinces and produce a cultural tourism route.
We need to start documenting our own histories on battles that were fought in defence of the land and our people’s sovereignty.”
Ramaphosa said the new leadership to be elected during this conference would have to answer the call and support the struggle of this generation.
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