Traditional leader says 'no progress without us'
"The land you are bickering about is here, not in Pretoria or Cape Town. Come and talk to us."
This was the "hot off-the-lip" message from Chief Ngangomhlaba Matanzima, the Eastern Cape chairman of the House of Traditional Leaders, to delegates who recently attended a three-day summit on land development in Mthatha.
The purpose of the summit was to find ways of developing the 105-year-old town.
Matanzima said he could not see why municipalities did not approach traditional leaders to discuss issues relating to land under traditional authorities.
He said: "Instead, officials jump onto aeroplanes and go to Pretoria or Cape Town to discuss land issues in the absence of the chiefs."
He said that for as long as chiefs were barred from participating in municipal affairs "nothing would come right".
He reminded delegates that section 81 of Act 117 of the Land Affairs Act of 1998 requires that traditional leaders form 20percent of quorums in councils.
De Larey Mkatshwa, of the King Sabata Dalindyebo municipal area, said urbanisation in Mthatha was moving rapidly and more land was needed.
Mkatshwa also echoed the sentiments of Matanzima and Zoleka Capa-Langa, the mayor of the OR Tambo District, that all parties with significant interests in ownership of land had to consult with each other.
"Let us refrain from the 'us and them' attitude," he said.
Madoda Fikeni, a lecturer at Walter Sisulu University, said it was important to identify whether the land being considered for development was state land or tribal land.
However, he said finding final solutions would be difficult.
"Claims have even been made to the Land Claims Commission for certain portions of Mthatha, and towns like Bizana, Mount Frere and others," he said.