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Mantashe calls on traditional leaders to work with the ANC

5 January 2011

African National Congress (ANC) Secretary General Gwede Mantashe today (5 January 2011) paid tribute to traditional leaders for the role they played during the Wars of Dispossession against colonialism and apartheid, calling on chiefs to work closely with the ANC.

On a campaign trail in Limpopo`s Sekhukhune region ahead of the upcoming January 8 Statement, Mantashe told a group of local traditional leaders who packed the Batubatse Primary School hall that chiefs played a crucial role in the formation of the ANC. "At that time, the chief joined the ANC on behalf of his people. And when we talk about the history of the liberation struggle, we start with the Wars of Dispossession where the likes of Sekhukhune, Hintsa and Bambata – among other chiefs – fought against colonialists to the end."

"Tribal divisions," said Mantashe, "was our only weakness during Wars of Dispossession." "Only after we were defeated in the wars, did we speak of unity, with the last Wars of Dispossession fought by Chief Bambata in 1906," he said.

Referring to some tensions between chiefs and councillors, he appealed to traditional leaders to play a more constructive role in structures created by the ANC Government. These included the House of Traditional Leaders and the Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs. Mantashe: "The ANC is not an opponent. I appeal to you to work together with the ANC, co-exist, co-operate and engage."

Fielding questions from the floor, Mantashe slammed the system of paramount chieftaincy as "an invention of apartheid meant to divide us". He said reality was that in any nation there was a king, "with chiefs working under him." "The Nhlapho Commission forces us to recognise kingdoms," he added.

Responding to concerns that the Nhlapho Commission did not recognise other traditional leaders, he said: "Traditional leaders should lead the debate on traditional history. Nhlapho will not do it for you."

During his trip, Mantashe also paid a visit to the Modikwa Platinum Mine owned jointly by Anglo Platinum and African Rainbow Minerals to meet management, National Union of Mineworkers leadership and workers. His message to the mine management was: "Give workers shares in the company and see the returns." He then wrapped up his visit by addressing a public gathering of ANC branch cadres in the region.

Issued by:
Brian Sokutu
African National Congress

Brian Sokutu 071 671 6899
Moloto Mothapo 082 370 6930