Ikosi Sipho Mahlangu has been hailed for advocating and advancing the agenda of land, people in rural areas, women and youth.
The late Ikosi, of the Ndzundza Mabusa Traditional Council, served as chairperson of Parliament’s National House of Traditional and Khoi-San Leaders (NHTKL) passed away last week.
Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (CoGTA) Minister, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, delivered the eulogy at the monarch’s funeral service on Friday.
“Even though he could have basked in the glory, he chose to be a foot soldier in our fight against hunger, poverty, inequality, unemployment, landlessness and gender based violence and femicide.”
She expressed pride at having been led by Inkosi uMahlangu.
“He led without fear or favour, he led by his conviction.”
The King was the youngest leader of both the provincial and national house. He ascended the latter in 2015.
“He was also witness to the evils and brutalities of the Apartheid South African Police establishment. And of course, he emerged from that. It was always his wish that a monument of stone of remembrance be erected in memory of those gruesome battles,” Dlamini-Zuma said.
The King was also a custodian of the agenda for the return of land to the landless.
In a 2018 media interview, he said he would fight any advanced opposition that seeks to separate black South Africans from the land.
The Minister said the King’s conviction to the land issue was not for his sake, “but he recognised that land is an essential asset for the development of the rural masses”.
“For him, that birth right is the non-negotiable by which our people can be commanders of their own destiny, and securing prosperity and food security.”
She lauded the monarch for his innovative ‘farm in the box’ initiative that enables peri-urban communities with limited access to land to plant and produce their own fruits and vegetables.
“By the time we launched the Invest Rural Masterplan in the North West in February this year, one could sense [the] impatience. For him the masterplan was a practical step by which he called that developmental monarchs could carve out their transformative role in our society,” she said.
For him and the NHTKL, the masterplan was fundamental to the radical transformation of the structure and ownership patterns of the economy. He believed that the plan had to be aligned with the President’s observations on economic transformation and must be underpinned in the economic future that will need to be crafted.
Opportunities for women and young people
Dlamini-Zuma also hailed Mahlangu for having understood the centrality of the skills revolution in meeting the objectives of the masterplan.
“His energies were invested in encouraging and finding opportunities for young people, and women in key economic sectors such as agriculture, manufacturing, as well as arts, culture, and heritage.
Government also sought to align the document with society wide initiatives, such as the District Development Model.
She said Mahlangu understood that it was only through alignment of coordinated efforts that the aspirations of the rural masses could find economic expression.
She added that as malls destroyed in the recent public unrest in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal began to rebuild, the participation of young people and women was important.
This, she said, would empower local communities, including cooperatives and SMMEs.
“This will enable community members to truly see these structures as also important local assets. This will also contribute to our fight against hunger, poverty, unemployment and inequality.
Two months after the launch of the masterplan, the CoGTA on Thursday launched the first project, a biomed factory in Isthebe, Mandeni, in KwaZulu-Natal.
During his chairpersonship of the house, the King met with Minister of Finance to discuss the remuneration of traditional leaders, the launch of the South African laptop, the macadamia nut farm projects in the Eastern Cape, the Maqoma citrus project as well as the Invest Rural Roadshow in the North West, among others.
Addressing gender-based violence
She said the King was someone who stood at the forefront of the fight against gender-based violence and femicide (GBVF), long before many men were willing to be associated with that fight.
“He was one of the first traditional leaders to convene a men’s dialogue aimed at addressing the silent scourge of GBVF. He contributed to loudly blowing the whistle against what the President calls the second pandemic. Our fight against GBVF has lost a capable leader.”
During a GBV dialogue last year, the King committed to transform the sector, protect and cherish women, and empower them by giving more opportunities to the girl-child.
“In his honour, we must redouble our empowerment efforts. We must also ensure that the South African boys and men are shaped in his mould. They must be exemplary boys and men who lift your hand or impose no financial or emotional abuse against females and children,” said the Minister.