Address to Traditional Leaders by the UDM President at the City Hall, Mthatha (10 October 2008)

Thank you for the opportunity to address you today. I will say a few words, but mostly I am here to listen to your concerns. Since the beginning of the year I have spoken with traditional leaders in various parts of the country, including Limpopo, Mpumalanga and now here.

What I have found is that firstly the traditional leaders are concerned about the lack of service delivery in their administrative areas. They feel that the local government system of councillors seems to be only a strategy to accommodate comrades that couldn't make it into Parliament or the legislatures. These local government councillors have no capacity or skills, and their administrations are riddled with critical vacancies, such as engineers.

These councillors get appointed and then just migrate to the cities. When people have problems in rural communities they know that the councillor isn't available or capable to deal with their issue; they rather go directly to the chief's kraal or headman's kraal to seek remedies. In the meantime these councillors are paid hefty salaries, but no services are delivered.

The Moseneke Report commissioned by Government seems to completely ignore the issue of income adjustments for traditional leaders.

These local government councillors have caused havoc in the rural areas. When they know that a certain area or ward did not support them or their political party they discriminate against that area in terms of service delivery. This runs entirely contrary to the Constitution, because everybody must benefit equally from the taxes they pay. Councillors must not be allowed to discriminate on party political loyalties.

The other challenge which has been reported to me in my meetings with traditional leaders is the issue of the Property Rates Tax in the rural areas. They argue strongly that this tax is unjust because there are no services being provided in their areas.

Rural communities don't get the free houses and other benefits of Government's urban-bias policies. To implement property rates tax in areas where there is no clear land tenure system is contradictory, especially when inspectors from the state come to determine the value of your rural property, but that same property is not granted any value if you were to approach a bank and offer it as surety. Government has failed to address the land tenure system adequately, thus banks say these properties have no value. People are already paying for electricity and water in some areas, so what is the basis for another tax without any services?

The traditional leaders I have met have made it clear that there must be a moratorium on the implementation of the property rates tax in rural areas until this issue has been resolved. If the traditional leaders here agree and give me the mandate I will take this issue up with the President of the country next week.

It is clear that this ANC Government has never been a listening Government. You can expect that they are going to be arrogant about your concerns regarding the property rates tax. They were warned before that rural development can't be done piecemeal. A proper rural renewal strategy is required. And it can't be written somewhere by somebody in a closed office in one of the cities who tend to apply urban thinking to rural issues. What is required is a rural indaba - for Government to discuss with the rural people what their needs and aspirations are. It is the same arrogance and lack of consultation that infected the Demarcations Board causing havoc in rural areas by determining borders without listening to the amaKhosi.

A new consultative approach should culminate in a Marshall Plan type of strategy. The UDM is calling for a Marshall Plan to resuscitate the economy, by focussing on infrastructure development that will also improve service delivery. Such a targeted government-led investment drive will focus on services such as water, roads, irrigation and electricity in a labour intensive manner. In that way we are also creating jobs, whilst we are addressing the service delivery concerns of the people.

We will also start to erase the urban bias of the present government which causes people to stream to the cities, where the service delivery also suffers due to the density of the population.

There has been far too much misspent and misdirected projects happening in the past ten years or more. When you speak to people in various communities, you will regularly find that they received housing, but wanted water, or they received a school but needed a clinic much more desperately.

Because the ANC Government does not consult they build one thing and the people need something else. As a result these misguided projects are unused and fall into disrepair. That is a waste of taxpayer money.

Their arrogance - and the power that they are wielding - has even caused huge conflict among traditional leaders, as can be seen with the appointment of the Ntlapo Commission - which you will agree with me created a great deal of tension among leaders, families and even between brothers. It is still a mystery as to who actually made these complaints. At least administratively one would have expected that each case would be dealt with openly and on its merits with a clear understanding of who all the involved parties are.

This culture of intolerance and lack of inclusiveness has also infected other institutions of the state, because whatever the ANC Government decides, they implement and they don't care about other people. They act like they are a God unto themselves. That arrogance has also bred corruption. The question arises: How long will people tolerate this corrupt and arrogant Government?

As we leave this hall, I urge you to go to your communities and encourage people to register on 8 and 9 November. Encouraging people to vote is the duty of those who are interested in the future of our country, as I believe all of you are, because you are the descendants of the amaKhosi who were in the vanguard of the struggle, fighting for the improvement of the lives of your people.

You should be advising your subjects that the time has arrived to invest in other parties, not just one party. We have seen that one-party dominance breeds a culture of non-inclusiveness, arrogance and corruption.

We are left with seven or so months before the next election, and I can't imagine that anybody here would advise their people to vote ANC, when today that party is riddled with infighting, and that infighting centres around the Arms Deal, not even policy or service delivery. We are becoming the laughing stock of the world.

Nor can we allow a ruling party which on a daily basis on the TV and radio is promoting a culture of violating our values of respect and decency. The rampant disrespect for the elders is disgusting. And the manner in which they have used tribalism in their internal battles is reckless.

Nor could we expect people to vote for a party that is willing to plunge the whole country into chaos just for an individual who doesn't want to go and face his day in court. The whole ANC leadership campaigns to portray Mr Zuma as a victim, even though repeated judgements in various courts and the Constitutional Court, indicate that he has huge questions to answer. For instance, he needs to explain what the Mauritian documents mean?

This campaign to portray Mr Zuma as a victim is backfiring in a big way now, with people threatening to start a new party. Many others are joining the UDM in droves.

Indeed it is one of the things which is currently breaking the ANC in half.

The solution for them, if I were to advise them in the spirit of non-interference, would be for Mr Zuma to take leave and deal with his court case and stop dodging his day in court and wasting our taxpayer money to do so. This ANC campaign of threatening the courts and NPA and calling judges that don't give verdicts that suit the palace all sorts of names, is not only dividing the ANC but it is dividing the country. We have already seen throughout the country where people have physically assaulted one another because of affiliation to either the Mbeki or Zuma camp. South Africa deserves better than that.

It is time for change. It is time to put the people first.

I thank you.

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