President Jacob Zuma has today, officially opened the South African National House of Traditional Leaders (NHTL) for its 2017/2018 operation.
The National House of Traditional Leaders (NHTL) which is a body of 23 traditional leaders in South Africa, representing the eight provincial Houses of Traditional Leaders will be opened this day as it is usually done after President Jacob Zuma presents his annual state of the Nation’s address (SONA).
The body, which was until 1998 called the National Council of Traditional Leaders, has the role of advising the President on matters relating to customary law.
The presidency had before now, noted that Zuma will deliver his annual NHTL address in terms of section 8 (1) (b) of the National House of Traditional Leaders Act, 2009 (Act 22 of 2009).
The address marked the official opening of the house which is also celebrating 20 years of its constitution. Emanating from the Annual Address, a Program of Action will be developed and implemented by the House and Department of Traditional Affairs (DTA).
Meanwhile, Zuma, while addressing the traditional leaders, said it was time for the house to join in the moves towards achieving a radical economic transformation.
He said he expected to get regular progress reports from members of his Cabinet on what they were doing to increase the participation of black people and, in particular, Africans in the economy.
“We have political power, we can vote and make laws but the economy is not in our hands. We are not in control of economic power – and the critical element of the economy is the land. The time to write about this and analyse has passed, it’s time to take action,” Zuma said, pointing out that black South Africans can no longer afford to engage in arguments around the land issue.
“If we argue and disagree as black Africans about the land matter, if we do so we will not be gathering our strength and this will take us back to when the land was taken from us. We need to be united on this matter,” he said.
Reiterating the need for lands to be returned to black South Africans, the President said his government has identified the weaknesses in the land restitution and redistribution programmes and would move swiftly to see it revised.
“The willing-buyer willing-seller method made the state a price in an unfair process. In addition, there are too many laws dealing with land reform which causes confusion and delays. You can claim land today and by the time your people get it you will be dead,”
He said when land is made available it should be used to produce food.
“Government has committed to supporting black smallholder farmers. We have realized we did not do it properly in the beginning, we asked people whether they needed land or money, and because money is the root of all evil, they said yes and by the time they got it was peanuts and made no impact,” Zuma said.
He also called for unity over the issue and appealed to the traditional leaders to join in the project that would bring about the revitalization of industrial parks in the former homelands and the development of special economic zones — spearheaded by the Department of Trade and Industry — as examples of some of the programmes underway.