Land hunger among black SAns is genuine and pressing - Ramaphosa

President says programme will lay ground work for an agricultural revolution (two speeches)

Opening and closing addresses by President Cyril Ramaphosa to the National House of Traditional Leaders

Address by President Cyril Ramaphosa at the official opening of the National House of Traditional Leaders

27 February 2018

Your Majesties,

Traditional Leaders of our people,

Traditional Leaders from the SADC region,

Chairperson of the National House of Traditional Leaders, Inkosi SE Mahlangu,

Former Chairperson of the National House of Traditional Leaders, Kgosi Maubane,

Speaker of the National Assembly,

Speaker of the National Council of Provinces,

Ministers and Deputy Ministers, 

Chairpersons of the Provincial Houses of Traditional Leaders and all Traditional Leaders, 

President of Contralesa, Kgoshi Mokoena,

Chairperson of the National Khoi-San Council, Mr Cecil Le Fleur,

Leaders of Political Parties,

Chairpersons of Chapter 9 Institutions,

Esteemed Guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Lotjhani ! Avuxeni! Ndi matsheloni! Dumelang! Sanibonani ! Thobela! Molweni ! Goeie More ! Good Morning!

It is an honour and joy to address the opening of the National House of Traditional Leaders. 

The institution of traditional leadership is a bedrock of South Africa’s constitutional democracy.

It remains a vital resource in the hands of our people to repair the social fabric that colonialism and apartheid sought to destroy.

It remains a potent instrument bequeathed to us by our ancestors to achieve accelerated, inclusive social and economic development.

To best serve the interests of the most vulnerable of our citizens requires an understanding that traditional authority exists not for its own sake, but to improve the lives of our people.

It requires that we affirm and support the historical and contemporary interdependence between our Kings, Queens and Chiefs and the people they lead.

This relationship of mutual interdependence between the ruler and the ruled is captured in the ancient saying, inkosi yinkosi ngabantu.

This means that for traditional authority and government not to become despotic or tyrannical, its legitimacy and authority must be derived from satisfying the aspirations of the governed.

To succeed, we look to traditional leaders to be active defenders of democracy and agents of inclusive development.

We look to them to be attentive and responsive to the cries of abused women, young people who are losing hope because of lack of training and work opportunities and elderly citizens who live in constant fear of violent criminals.

We look to this House to work with government and other social partners to build a capable developmental state that will deliver clean water, sanitation, clinics and tarred roads especially to those who live in our remote rural villages.

We look to traditional leaders to mobilise their communities in the fight against poverty, inequality, unemployment, disease and illiteracy.

Like traditional leaders of days gone by, we look to you to take a lead in promoting education, industry and commerce in your communities.

We look to you to resist any attempts to alienate you from the very people on whose behalf you lead.

We look to you to exemplify a courageous and patriotic leadership that is motivated and driven solely by the ideal of a better life for our people.

Because our people still yearn for justice, peace and fulfilment, we need servant leaders like Inkosi Jongintaba Dalindyebo, Inkosi Nelson Mandela and Inkosi Albert Luthuli.

They were among our proud and visionary leaders who were ready to sacrifice their birth right, their titles and comfort to advance the struggle against racial division and indignity. 

Drawing on their example, we are certain the leadership of ubukhosi at national and provincial level is capable and ready to lend a hand to rebuild our nation.

In this regard, we wish to congratulate Ikosi Sipho Mahlangu, on his election as the Chairperson of the National House of Traditional Leaders. 

We wish him and the newly inaugurated National House of Traditional Leaders all the wisdom and success as they champion the institution of traditional leadership and the wellbeing of our people.

We also congratulate the leaders who have been elected to lead the various Provincial Houses of Traditional Leaders. 

We will continue to ensure that our Constitution and the laws passed by our people remain effective in supporting and adapting this institution to better serve our citizens.


This year marks the dawn of a new era of hope, of servant leadership and of accelerated development.

The most appropriate way to pay tribute to founding President Nelson Mandela – whose centenary we are celebrating this year – is to translate our intentions into actions.

It was President Mandela himself who addressed the inauguration of the National Council of Traditional Leaders in April 1997.

During his address, President Mandela had this to say:

“And so we meet, as descendants of these valiant fighters, in a different setting, in a different era, to plan for peace and not war; to promote unity and not division; to forge a common nationhood and not exclusive privilege.”

These words exemplify not only the abiding spirit that Mandela sought to promote, but also the challenges that still confront us, as a nation, as leaders and as citizens of this great country we call South Africa. 

We know exactly what President Nelson Mandela wished for the institution of traditional leadership.

At the installation of Inkosi Phathekile Holomisa in Mqanduli in April 1999, President Mandela said:

“To the extent that your leadership helps improve the lives of the people, to the extent that it fosters the best of African culture and tradition, and above all to the extent that it fosters unity and peace amongst the people, my days will be filled with contentment.”

The improvement of the living conditions of South Africans must remain at the heart of the discussion about the role and future of traditional leadership.

It must remain seized with the task of uniting South Africans and for creating a society that is equal and free from racial and gender prejudice.

Honourable Members,

Traditional leadership needs to play a prominent and influential role in the growth of our economy, the creation of employment and the transformation of our society.

During the State of the Nation Address earlier this month, we outlined some of the key priorities of government for the year.

One of these is land reform.

This issue is critical, emotive and very sensitive. 

Land dispossession is a defining feature of colonialism and apartheid in South Africa. 

Land hunger among black South Africans is genuine and pressing. 

The time has arrived that we act decisively to resolve this matter. 

We must repair the damage inflicted upon our people.

As part of the measures to accelerate land redistribution, the 54th National Conference of the ANC resolved that where appropriate and justifiable, land will be expropriated without compensation.

The programme of land reform must have clear targets and timeframes, be guided by sound legal and economic principles, and must contribute to the country’s overall job creation and investment objectives.

By providing more land to more producers for cultivation, and by providing the necessary support, we are laying the foundation for an agricultural revolution.

We are determined to work with traditional leaders to significantly expand agriculture, not only to ensure food security, but also to create jobs on a significant scale and increase the value of our exports.

We also want to build partnerships with traditional leaders to tackle the challenge of youth unemployment.

We need to create opportunities for young people in rural areas – whether through education, internships, learnerships or employment.

We will not succeed in developing rural areas if the youngest, most active and most skilled people leave for the cities and metros.

Among other things, this means that we need to make agriculture an attractive and viable career for young people.

We need to improve and properly resource TVET colleges and other training institutions in rural areas.

We need to identify investment opportunities in small towns and rural areas and ensure that we use local suppliers and labour when building infrastructure like roads, dams, energy projects, schools and clinics.

We also need to ensure that the support we provide to small businesses and cooperatives is not confined to urban areas, but extends to entrepreneurs in all parts of the country.

As indicated in the State of the Nation Address, government is committed to thorough engagement with all stakeholders in finalising a new version of the Mining Charter.

It is critical that affected communities are represented in these engagements and that the Charter, when finalised, effectively addresses their needs and interests.

We trust that traditional leaders in these areas are integral part of the process and facilitate the involvement of communities in deliberations with government, unions and industry representatives.

Honourable Members,

As government, we remain committed to work with this House and all South Africans to restore the dignity and integrity of the institution of royalty in South Africa.

In 2017, Government hosted the Indigenous and Traditional Leadership Indaba, which came up with a number of resolutions, which were translated into a declaration signed by government and the institution. 

The Indaba reaffirmed the major role of royal leadership in cooperative governance.

It agreed that the values of transparency and accountability should underpin the work performed by our traditional leaders.

We agreed on the need to establish institutional mechanisms to support dialogue, achieve consensus and build a social compact between traditional leaders, government and other stakeholders.

Honourable Members,

I am aware that the Traditional Courts Bill is currently before Parliament.

I urge the institution of traditional leadership to participate in all the legislative processes to ensure that the Bill is in line with customary practice and serves the interests of justice and the needs of the people. 

The other pending pieces of legislation, the Traditional and Khoi-San Leadership Bill and the Customary Initiation Bill, must be fast tracked to ensure that they provide an enabling environment for the institution to realise its constitutional mandate. 

The Traditional and Khoi-San Leadership Bill was passed by the National Assembly and is currently in the National Council of Provinces. 

The Bill will provide for statutory recognition of Khoi-San communities and leaders while making provision for structures that will serve the interests of Khoi-san communities. 

A Commission on Khoi-San Matters will be established to assist government with the recognition process.

Considering fatalities, injuries and mismanagement of the customary practice of initiation, government has drafted the Customary Initiation Bill to regulate this cultural practice. 

We need to deal decisively with the deaths that take place in the customary initiation schools. 

Parents take children to initiation schools as a rite of passage but some come back with physical and psychological scars that can remain with them for the rest of their lives.

Even more tragic, some of our children do not return to their families. 

We must understand why our interventions to date have not as yet yielded the outcomes we seek and explore better ways to stop the deaths and injuries.

Honourable Members,

We meet here in the immediate aftermath of a great tragedy that has struck the community of Engcobo.

We extend our condolences to the families of those who lost their lives.

We call on traditional leaders and the community of Engcobo to stand together to defeat crime, social discord and the misappropriation of religion.

Once again, thank for the opportunity to address you today.

Together, we are setting South Africa on a new course of development, unity and enduring peace.

Together, we are placing the needs of our citizens first.

This places a responsibility on us to collaborate more effectively, to address problems and concerns as they arise and to deal openly and directly with areas of discontent.

As we celebrate the centenary of the birth of Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, let us together reaffirm our shared commitment to serve the people.

Let us reaffirm our shared determination to improve the lives of the poor and the marginalised and to build a united South African nation.

I thank you.


Reply by President Cyril Ramaphosa to the debate in the National House of Traditional Leaders, Old Assembly Chamber, Parliament, Cape Town

1 March 2018

Your Majesties,

Chairperson of the National House of Traditional Leaders,

Ministers and Deputy Ministers, 

Chairpersons of the Provincial Houses of Traditional Leaders,

Esteemed Guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Dumelang! Molweni! Good Morning!

I wish to thank all the esteemed speakers who participated in the debate today.

I have listened intently to your wise counsel and proposals.

As President of the Republic, I am fully committed to work with you to improve the lives of our citizens, especially those that live in our rural hinterland.

Having listened to you, I am more convinced that to defeat underdevelopment, unemployment and poverty, we need to involve our traditional leaders more purposely and more effectively.

I am more convinced that traditional leaders must be central to our national strategies to ignite inclusive rural economic development.

This is an institution that has a critical role to play in the delivery of roads, clinics and schools.

We salute you for the sterling work that you are performing day by day to make a difference in the lives of our communities.

Princess Motshabi, without the outstanding work of traditional leaders in health, South Africa will lose more people to preventable and treatable diseases like tuberculosis and HIV.

We applaud our traditional leaders for answering the call in our national strategic plan to reduce the spread of these epidemics.

We thank you for addressing these diseases using the language, traditions and practices of our people.

We have no doubt that innovative approaches to fight drugs and crime in our communities will benefit greatly from the collective wisdom of our traditional leaders.

Kgosi Toto and Inkhosi Ngomane, 

We certainly must put behind us the terrible temptation to conceive and plan development that affects traditional leadership without consulting and involving traditional authorities.

Government, business and labour must sincerely engage you are and communities on plans for mining, infrastructure development and service delivery.

As I said recently in my reply to the debate on the State of the Nation Address, our people better understand their challenges and are eager to lend a hand to improve their circumstances.

Our people, like you, are saying: “Nothing about us without us.”


Our most vulnerable and poor people, many of whom live in remote villages, should not be worried that the payment of their grants may be interrupted.

One of the priorities of the Minister of Social Development is to work with you to finalise appropriate measures to stop loan sharks who prey on vulnerable social grant recipients.

In my address in this House on Monday, I emphasised that we need to urgently implement the 2017 Indaba Resolutions on the status of the institution of traditional leaders, its work and its future.

I agree with Kgoshi Mokoena and others that we need to do more to speed up the processing of relevant legislation. 

Where there are legislative challenges, we need to be transparent and engage further.

I will ask the newly-appointed Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Dr Zweli Mkhize, to draft a detailed plan on how all the issues that you have raised this morning will be addressed timeously. 


It was heartening to hear about the many exciting and innovative ideas on how we can commercially exploit our living and natural heritage.

I agree with Inkosi PT Zulu and Inkosi Ndevu that we need to do more to celebrate our identity, culture, songs and stories.

We need to do more to preserve, develop and promote our heritage for local and international tourists.

We need more young people to get involved in the heritage sector and tourism industry.

We urge established business to spend time with our rural communities developing heritage products and tourism routes that will boost local economies.

Working with academia, entrepreneurs and destination marketers, we must use the upcoming Investment Summit to present solid investment proposals in agriculture, heritage, tourism and mining to boost rural economies.


The National Local Economic Development Summit held in November 2016 agreed to add Local Economic Development as a sixth pillar of the Back to Basics programme. 

This was done to ensure that local economic development becomes a more prominent feature of the responsibilities of local government.

Last year, Government hosted the 3rd Presidential Local Government Summit. 

The Summit defined a local government developmental agenda that is aligned to the 2030 National Development Plan Vision.

The driving vision of building developmental and responsive municipalities through collaboration between government, civil society, traditional authorities, business and residents remains critical.

Last year, government extended its free basic services programme, currently spending R41 billion through the equitable share to further alleviate poverty within communities. 

The free basic services programme currently supports more than 3.5 million indigent households

The Accelerated Land Development and Redistribution Initiative facilitates the development of serviced land and provision of bulk infrastructure services in conjunction with local municipalities, finance institutions and private sector land developers. 

The Operation Phakisa for agriculture, land reform and rural development endorsed the idea to establish an inclusive Rural Development Agency. 

This agency would serve as an oversight structure for all rural development programmes.

The Department of Rural Development and Land Reform has made great strides to promote cooperation between government and industry on developing value chains. 

The department has completed two studies on international opportunities for the fruit, nuts and vegetable industries. 

There are plans to complete studies on international meat and fish markets.

And Kgosi Mabe, I agree with you that people in rural areas must benefit from the oceans in their vicinity. 

It cannot be correct that only the big ships harvest our seas. 

Kgoshi Dikgale talks about youth and unemployment.

Government is targeting the agricultural sector to create at least a million jobs by 2030, a target that can be achieved through increased youth participation. 

Agriculture is experiencing both an ageing farmer population and, ironically, a high rate of unemployed graduates. 

Working with you, we must improve the involvement of youth, women and people with disabilities in the agricultural sector. 

To respond to this challenge, government has developed an Agricultural Graduate Placement Programme. 

It is envisaged that 1,000 unemployed agricultural graduates will benefit from this initiative during this financial year. 

Government is leading efforts to create an enabling environment to support the establishment of youth-owned and –managed enterprises. 

National Treasury has made available R370 million over the Medium Term Expenditure Framework period to be used to support smallholder producers through the black producer commercialisation programme. 

Additional funding from the Comprehensive Agricultural Support Programme has been earmarked to increase this grant fund pool and ensure more funding institutions are able to partner with government. 

The NDP enjoins us to work together to create tenure security for communal farmers, especially women.

As we have said in the Plan, successful land reform, job creation and rising agricultural production is key to the development of an inclusive rural economy.

Kgosi Mabe,

I absolutely agree with speakers who said that that land is our heritage.

Indeed, it is an essential part of our being, of our past and our future.

To speak of land is to speak to our humanity and our dignity.

Thank you for reminding us of the farming skills that have been passed from one generation to the next by rural communities and traditional authorities.

You are also correct that we need to profile more of the positive stories of our African farmers. 

We owe it to our children to refute the myth that Africans are not friends of commercial agriculture.

Where – because of the disruption of colonialism and apartheid – we have lost farming skills, we have an opportunity to enter agricultural colleges and learn from other successful commercial farmers.

It is in the interests of our common and inclusive future to have more successful commercial farmers, and this administration is fully committed to provide the necessary support.

Your Majesties,

On Tuesday, South Africans through their public representatives in parliament voted overwhelmingly in support of a motion to accelerate equitable land redistribution through expropriation of land without compensation.

The success of this vote has gotten South Africans, black and white, rich and poor, men and women, urban and rural, young and old, talking about land hunger and economic justice in our country.

It is a question that we will continue to handle with due care and responsibility. 

There will be no smash and grab of land.

This matter will not be resolved without comprehensive consultation.

I will shortly initiate a dialogue with key stakeholders to explore the modalities to give effect to the resolution that was adopted by the 54th National Conference of the governing party. 

What this moment requires is for people to engage with each other and to come up with proposals that can lead to a just and sustainable outcome.

In everything that we do, we will continue to be motivated by our vision of creating a truly equal, non-racial, non-sexist, democratic and prosperous South Africa.

We will continue to be inspired by the Freedom Charter vision that South Africa belongs to all those who live in it, black and white.

We have a perfect opportunity as a nation to make difficult, but correct and just choices that will serve to unite our nation long after we have departed this world.

Nearly 24 years into democracy, we have an opportunity to implement what we envisioned in the Reconstruction and Development Plan.

We said:

“No political democracy can survive and flourish if the mass of our people remain in poverty, without land, without tangible prospects for a better life. Attacking poverty and deprivation must therefore be the first priority of a democratic government.” 

We must navigate our way motivated not by fear, prejudice and mistrust.

We must ensure that our choices reflect our hopes, not our fears.

Once again, thank you very much for your excellent contributions, which have enriched the national conversation and inspired us to move forward to create a more humane and united South Africa.

I thank you.

Issued by the Presidency, 27 February and 1 March 2018