Parliament, Thursday, 9 November 2023 – The Portfolio Committee on International Relations and Cooperation held a consultative meeting with the Congress of Traditional Leaders of South Africa (CONTRALESA) on the launch of the Committee’s People-Centered Oversight on International Relations which is aimed at dealing with challenges faced by the villages on matters of international relations.
The Chairperson of the committee, Mr Supra Mahumapelo, reminded the CONTRALESA delegation, led by Mr Zolani Mkiva, that the committee is responsible for holding the executive accountable, law making and to facilitate public participation. He said CONTRALESA can play a crucial role in the area of public participation and law-making.
Mr Mahumapelo said the committee took a decision to establish the forum in all the villages and townships throughout the country and thought it is important to consult CONGRALESA first “so that we don’t just establish those village based forums on international relations without talking to our traditional leadership. We would want you as our traditional leaders to be part of the processes on the ground”.
Outlining the objectives of the People Centrered Oversight on International Relations, Mr Mahumapelo said, among other things, it seeks to discuss the situation that the villages are facing regarding the dynamics of foreign relations. The committee, through the forum, will work with the villagers to ensure that issues that come from the people on the ground are shared with the Department of International Relations and Cooperation for further processing.
He said the committee will also work with the department and its 160 Embassies throughout the world to ensure that some of the progressive countries can assist the villages to develop their economies. “In the villages we need a lot of investments in which I believe there should be development, growth and sustainability of the economies. I’m one of the people who believe that South Africa will not go anywhere if we don’t build strong village based economies, because the cities and the townships are a product of villages – all of us originate from villages. So we can not detach villages from all aspects of life of South Africa,” he said.
Mr Mahumapelo added: “We can bring investors together who are going to grow the economies of the villages. We can work together through these forums to ensure that the relevant skills that may be coming from overseas go into the villages.”
Mr Mahumapelo further called on CONTRALESA to indicate to the committee if there are matters they would like to discuss relating to the economy and how they would like to work with other traditional systems in the world. “As the committee, we are here to work with you, the department of international relations, and the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs in order to address many international relations challenges facing our communities.
The forum will also work with other key stakeholders such as the councillors, because they are the chairpersons of the ward committees throughout the country to educate the people about matters of international relations. “We think having established the forum countrywide, our people will play a direct meaningful role. Not only in resolving conflicts, but also in dealing with businesses and many other developmental issues. That is why we have requested this meeting with you and we hope that our traditional leadership will understand the critical importance of this approach that has been suggested and developed by the committee,” Mr Mahumapelo concluded.
Mr Mkiva welcomed the consultation and expressed their gratitude and humility to the committee for having taken the “profound decision to reach out to us. This is a gesture that we do not take for granted because it is not only about the recognition of CONTRALESA and the role that we played in the liberation struggle, but this is the acknowledgment of the fact that the management will not happen efficiently and effectively in this country unless there is a centrality of the meaningful participation of the institution of traditional leadership as led by CONTRALESA,” Mr Mkiva said.