Memo to His Excellency, President Kgalema Motlanthe regarding Traditional leaders' concerns from the UDM President (20 October 2008)

The abovementioned matter has reference.

In the last two months or so, I have been visiting various traditional leadership institutions across the country, on their invitation.

High on the agenda of their concerns has been the government's neglect of Headmen's remunerations. They site Mr Moseneke Commission's tardiness; indeed they accuse him of only increasing the salaries of Chiefs, and Councillors year by year, without reviewing theirs. They further argue that Headmen play more important roles than the current councillors, who do not avail themselves to the communities when needed.

The other burning issue is the Property Rates tax legislation, which is due to be implemented in their areas of jurisdiction. They are questioning the rational of taxing their resident's properties, which have no financial value as far as the commercial banks are concerned. Their argument is based on the fact that there has not been any consensus amongst South Africans, on what kind of land tenure system should be used the country, which would seek to address the current communal land system.
This concern is compounded by the fact that service delivery is only enjoyed by those who live in the cities.

The traditional leaders further raised their objections on the Demarcation Board's style of operation. The Board's lack of consulting with the traditional leaders has been condemned.

However, by far the most pressing issue for all the communities concerned and their traditional leaders is that of the lack of service delivery. They feel that they are being treated by the government as second citizens. Roads, electricity, water and sanitation are absent or inadequate. This situation has been aggravated by the ANC's infighting playing out amongst the local government councillors.

The following areas were visited:
a. Limpopo
. Matiyane Village, Phunda Maria Region
. Nkosi Mhinga Traditional Council Offices
. Thohoyando District

Their concerns were submitted to your office as early as 1 September 2008, but without even receipt of acknowledgement let alone addressing their concerns.

b. Mpumalanga
. Moretele region at Lokaneng
. Nelspruit, at KwaDantshi

c. Eastern Cape
. Mthatha. The traditional leaders present in the meeting came from the 28 magisterial districts of the Transkei region.

Over and above the mentioned concerns, they also added the following:
a. Need to revive College for the Sons of Chiefs and Headmen in Tsolo district.
b. Need government to assist them with tractors
c. Need for clinics, whilst the clinics which are not manned need staff
d. Crime is a major problem
e. Compensation for their livestock destroyed by the Department of Agriculture, following foot-and-mouth outbreak.
f. Need for home-based care centres
g. Need for ID documents
h. The elderly are targeted by criminals
i. The Amacwerha Chieftainship dispute in the Eastern Pondoland region should be attended to by the government.
j. Need bursaries to send their children to school. Some of the young
Chiefs would like to further their education in various fields.
k. The rate of unemployment is high and the levels of poverty are increasing on a daily basis.
l. Review of the inheritance legislation is needed
m. Lack of access to forests along the coastal areas. In the same vein the government is employing people from outside their jurisdiction at the expense of their subjects. This behaviour is common in the area of Elliotdale.
n. The power struggle between the traditional leaders and Local Government Councillors on each other's role in the development of their areas.
o. The IEC's biasness towards the ANC, wherein employment for next years election, is enjoyed only by ANC members who get first preference.
p. The fencing off of their areas, including mealie fields and grazing land.

In my regular constituency work all across the country I have observed these exact same problems in all the rural areas that I visit. The Government's urban bias exacerbates the woes of the rural poor. It also fuels the urbanisation that is placing huge strain on the infrastructure and housing capacity of the metropolitan centres and swelling the numbers of those who are forced to live in shacks and slums from the neglected rural areas.

Finally, it would be appreciated if the concerns mentioned above can be attended to by your government as soon as possible.

Kind Regards,

Bantu Holomisa, MP
UDM President

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