South Africa Must Recognise the Importance of Rural Development & Traditional Leaders

ActionSA would like to thank everyone who made the contribution towards the development of this policy.  It was interesting to observe that we received inputs, mainly from people living in rural areas, and understand their challenges from firsthand experience.

We must from onset state that this is one of the policies that still needs further panel engagements, especially around traditional affairs. The discussion panels we convened only managed to consult the Royal Leaders (Amakhosi only) – noting there are other stakeholders such as those in traditional affairs; Traditional Healers, Religious leaders etc, which we will consult with to solidify or policy in this regard.

The policy we have adopted today, is a pillar of social justice.  When in government, ActionSA needs to prioritize this policy, because if correctly implemented, it could address:

  • Urbanisation: Which is the cause major housing back-lock in major cities. Rapid levels or urbanisation means that more resources are diverted to serve urban communities, often at the expense of service delivery in rural communities. Severe governance failures at rural municipalities compound the problems, and often result in a diminished quality of life for rural communities.
  • Food Security as we have land and ability to utilise it.

Through this policy, ActionSA sees a South Africa where those living in rural communities can enjoy greater access to opportunity and services. A South Africa we people are served by a competent government, that will stimulate vibrant local economies, and where our traditional leaders provide leadership that conserves cultural norms and promotes fair and equitable governance aligned with the principles of our Constitution.

The quality of education and healthcare services, which are critical to human development are significantly lacking in many rural communities as compared to urban communities. If this problem is not addressed, it will result in rural communities becoming increasingly marginalised and disadvantaged as compared to urban communities.

South Africa recognizes traditional leadership structures, which coexists alongside our parliamentary system of governance. This at times, leads to complexities and inconsistencies with regards to the roles, powers, and responsibilities of traditional leaders, as well as their integration with local government structures.

Land reform is an important concern, more especially in rural communities. Our approach to land reform must ensure that unbiased processes are put in place, and that more people can access land ownership. However, such processes must take place within the existing constitutional framework, and not solely focus on rural area.

The strength of South Africa’s primary sector, especially mining and agriculture, means that our rural areas will continue to provide opportunities for economic prosperity. Fostering economic development in our rural areas will further enhance the effectiveness of our sectoral plans and allow South Africans to continue to enjoy the benefits of rural life.

We must empower our Traditional Leaders to continue to play their role as custodians of traditional leadership structures and systems, while also ensuring that traditional leadership systems accord with the values of our constitutional democracy, as entrenched in our Constitution.

With this policy, we aim to:

  • Entrench good governance practices in rural municipalities to provide the basic foundation for economic growth and opportunity
  • Increasing access to quality services in rural communities is a critical aspect of unlocking economic diversification.
  • Improving the quality of life in rural communities requires effective.
  • Review the feasibility of introducing a rural allowance for professional managers to attract skilled public servants to rural municipalities.
  • Ensure that residents of rural communities have comparable access to quality socio-economic infrastructure that empowers them with the opportunity for upward mobility.
  • Ensure effective collaboration in infrastructure project developments at the provincial level to encourage cohesive infrastructure development.
  • Allocate sufficient financial resources towards investment in economic resources in the rural areas, focusing on roads, energy and water and sanitation.
  • Ensure sufficient access to fit-for-purpose social infrastructure, including clinics, schools, police stations and courts.
  • Where infrastructure development is not possible for remote communities, invest in mobile service delivery that provides regular access to remote communities.
  • Invest in providing wireless internet connectivity for rural communities.
  • Improve the support for the agricultural industry, emphasising a balance between industry diversification, job creation, food security, export promotion and environmental sustainability.
  • Oppose all Constitutional amendments relating to state expropriation without compensation of privately held agricultural land.
  • Transfer state-owned arable land to emerging farmers on long-term leases with an option to buy after five years of successful operation.
  • Prioritise successful and effective implementation of existing programmes aimed at rural land reform and ensure land rights of beneficiaries.
  • Partner land reform projects with extensive farmer support that provides financing, technical assistance and market access to beneficiaries.
  • Create legal certainty surrounding the interpretation of land rights under customary law to ensure a fair and transparent system of land ownership in former homeland jurisdictions. example: Title deed is a word normally used but as African we have a way of proving ownership, like Graves, farming lad.
  • Implement agricultural internships and mentorships that build commercial farming skills among emerging farmers.
  • Partner land reform projects with extensive farmer support that provides financing, technical assistance and market access to beneficiaries.
  • Implement agricultural internships and mentorships that build commercial farming skills among emerging farmers.
  • Promote the development of linkages between rural areas and economic centres and ports of trade through strategic road and rail infrastructure development.
  • Partner with private sector internet service providers to ensure access to broadband internet in strategic rural areas so that rural businesses and household can be connected to the online economy.
  • Improve access to finance and credit in rural areas by partnering with private sector financing institutions to provide fit-for-purpose financing.
  • An equitable relationship between the state and traditional and royal leaders is important for cultural heritage preservation and rural development.
  • Improve the autonomy with which traditional and royal leaders govern, and pair the increased autonomy with increased accountability.
  • Promote the importance of cultural and ceremonial practices and the role of traditional and royal leaders in such.
  • Allow for voluntary participation in traditional and royal structures.
  • Ensure that Khoi and San communities enjoy the same recognition as other traditional and royal structures.
  • Encourage local government councillors to establish productive and mutually respectful relationships with traditional and royal leaders within their area of operation.
  • Improve the oversight role of traditional and royal leaders.
  • Commit ActionSA to further engagement with traditional and royal leaders to improve the party’s relationship and understanding of these important stakeholders.