Calls for traditional leaders to rally behind SONA priority areas

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

President Cyril Ramaphosa says government has asked traditional leaders to rally behind government to ensure that the five urgent priority tasks that he announced in his State of the Nation Address, are implemented.

The President said this when he addressed the official opening of the National House of Traditional Leaders at the Old Assembly Chamber on Tuesday.

“In the State of the Nation Address on the 7th of February, we identified five key tasks that should underpin everything that we do this year. These are tasks in which traditional leaders have a critical role to play and in which individually and through the various houses of traditional leadership, they are already actively involved in,” he said.

In the State of the Nation Address two weeks ago, the President said the tasks that would guide government’s programme of action are to:

  • Firstly accelerate inclusive economic growth and create jobs;
  • Secondly improve the education system and develop the skills that are needed now and into the future;
  • Thirdly improve the conditions of life for all South Africans, especially the poor;
  • Fourthly, step up the fight against corruption and state capture; and
  • Fifthly, strengthen the capacity of the state to address the needs of the people.

Addressing traditional leaders on Tuesday, the President said the most direct way out of poverty for citizens is through employment and other productive economic activities such as small and medium enterprises as well as exploiting the wealth that the agricultural sector has.

“It is clear that we cannot create employment without a growing economy and far greater levels of investment. It was with a clear intention of increasing local investment in mind that we embarked on an ambitious investment drive last year to raise $100 billion, translating to something like R1.2 trillion in new investment over the next five years,” he said.

The President said following the success of the investment conference last year, government was preparing to host another one this year.

He said in preparation for that conference, government will be focusing its efforts on those investors that will add the greatest value to the economy.

“Among those areas that we want to see greater focus in on investment in the rural economy, particularly in agriculture and agro-processing, as well as mining, tourism and infrastructure,” he said.

He said it is for this reason that in designating special economic zones, government has decided to include areas that are outside the main urban centres – areas such as Maluti-a-Phofung and Musina-Makhado special economic zones.

The President said, meanwhile, that rural schools will be prioritized when government phases in the digitization programme next year.

In his State of the Nation Address, he said that over the next six years, government will provide every school child in South Africa with digital workbooks and textbooks on a tablet device.

On Tuesday, the President said education was key to the country’s development and prosperity.

He also said traditional leaders need to throw their weight behind government’s priority that no child is deprived of their right to education.

“It is essential that no child in our country should ever be left behind when it comes to education and it is in this regard that our traditional leaders have a direct role to play and a responsibility.

“We are looking to traditional leaders to assist in the huge task of achieving universal enrolment in early childhood development (ECD) centres, which is particularly challenging in rural areas and we are saying that gone must be the days of the past where children grow up and they are then seen as young children who must go and herd the cattle, the sheep and the goats.

“Children belong in ECD centres, they belong in schools and we would like our traditional leaders to focus on those so that we build a winning nation of the future,” he said.

He said, meanwhile, that traditional leaders need to work with government to stop deaths at initiation schools. –