Government is committed to the restoration of the honour and dignity of traditional leadership, says President Cyril Ramaphosa.
“Government is committed to giving effect to the provisions of Chapter 12 of the Constitution, especially the restoration of the dignity of the institution of traditional leadership in a Constitutional democracy,” said the President.
President Ramaphosa was addressing the coronation ceremony of the Queen of Balobedu at Mokwakwaila Stadium in Bolobedu, Ga-Modjadji in Limpopo, on Saturday.
The Balobedu Queenship was officially recognised in March 2016 after the Commission on Traditional Leadership Disputes and Claims (CTLDC) conducted research on the status of the Balobedu, as per the claims submitted to the CTLDC. It is the first Queenship in the Republic of South Africa.
President Ramaphosa said the recognition of the Queenship in South Africa demonstrates the commitment to the principle and value of gender equality, while also recognising the leadership role that women play in all spheres of life.
“This is truly a historic milestone in the democratic South Africa that we live in today,” said the President, adding that the late struggle heroine Winnie Madikizela-Mandela would be proud of the restoration of the Queenship of the Balobedu.
“She would be very proud of this celebration today,” he said of the recognition of the Queenship of the minor, who will be installed as queen at a later stage.
The Queen-elect will be installed as Queen Modjadji VII when she graduates in terms of the Balobedu customs and traditions.
The Queen-elect will assume the responsibility that was borne by a long line of kings and queens, who have served their people with dignity, always putting the people’s interests first.
President Ramaphosa said while there is celebration, it is also an affirmation of the vital role that traditional leaders play.
“Traditional leaders have a crucial role to play in building a society free of poverty, unemployment and inequality. Our traditional leaders need to be at the forefront of the struggle to restore rights and dignity of our people.”
He further stressed the important role they play in restoring land to the right owners.
“They need to ensure that the land is restored to those who work it and that those who the land is returned to have the means to work it,” said President Ramaphosa.
He said traditional leaders have an important role to play in the development agenda of South Africa.
An estimated 25 million people, who live in rural areas, do so under the leadership of traditional leaders.