Traditional leaders warn ANC: Don’t forget where your votes come from

Traditional leaders have warned the ANC not to forget where its votes come from after the ruling party resolved to limit their authority over communal land.

The Congress of Traditional Leaders of South Africa (Contralesa) said the resolution was a result of the party’s failure to hand back land to black South Africans.

The Eastern Cape delegates at the 54th ANC national Conference held at the Nasrec Centre Picture: MASI LOSI

Chief Mathibela Mokoena‚ the president of Contralesa‚ said the ANC does not want to deal with the issue of land decisively‚ so instead targets them.

“As a traditional leader‚ we are waiting for the government to tell us what they are planning to do about taking back the land‚ not these silly tactics of disrespecting us. We are against this resolution of theirs. If they lack the strategy to deal with the big issue‚ they must consult us‚” Mokoena said.

“We have enough wisdom and a strategy on how to take back the land. They must stop bullying traditional leaders. We are not the enemy and they can’t wish us away. Most things go wrong because they are scared of speaking truth to power‚ the real land that our fathers fought for is still not ours.”

Mokoena alleged that by interfering with communal land custodianship‚ the ANC is biting the hand that feeds it.

“Come elections‚ they get the most votes from communities that are under traditional leaders. They must not forget. We deserve to be recognised and respected as important role players in this country. All we ask is for them to consult us before making misleading announcements‚ because one day we will get tired of this treatment‚ I don’t know what we will do then‚” he said.

The ANC resolved on Wednesday at its 54th national conference that it would remove some of the authority of traditional leaders over communal land‚ with the goal of eventually giving communities 13% of land.

Dr Aninka Claassens‚ who has researched land issues in South Africa for about 25 years‚ said the resolution is not a triumph as it still does not give ownership to the individual.

“It’s more of the same. It’s actually disappointing. Land rights are still denied to the individual. You either transfer the title to the individual or a group‚” Claassens said.

“A community like the council of traditional leaders is a group‚ so there is no difference. What they must do is empower the individual‚ give rights and titles to the individual.”