Mandleni-Matleng, Ulundi : December 12, 2002

It is a pleasure for me to attend this meeting between the amaKhosi of this region and the Mayor of the District of Zululand, Ms Zanele Magwaza. I trust that this meeting with be productive in that it can stimulate debate on how we may move forward the good projects already established through the district municipality and determine which new projects must be started. I believe that holding meetings such as this towards the end of each year expresses the relationship of cooperation and goodwill between traditional authorities and the district municipality, and I am encouraged to see us working hand in hand for the benefit of our people. This working relationship has not been easily accomplished. Many obstacles have been placed in its way by the policies of the central government. However, it has always been the priority of our amaKhosi that the good of the people comes first, regardless of the sacrifice required. I also appreciate that this is not just a question of a relationship between us as members of Traditional Authorities and your municipality. But it is the entire relationship with all the leaders of our communities.

At the outset, I wish to congratulate Ms Magwaza on another year of dedicated hard work and success. I feel close to Ms Magwaza, not only because we share a passion for meeting the needs of our people, but because I see in her the marks of good leadership. She has been willing to work hard and continuously. As she delivers this year’s report, the fruits of these efforts in the Zululand District Council will become clear. Each of you will need to consider this report on the activities and programmes of the municipality and decide whether they contribute to the successful formula of governance and development which we are determined to establish in this region. Throughout this year, the District Council of Zululand has established and carried out many projects. It has been my privilege to attend the official opening of several of these. I see in them the seeds of prosperity and social upliftment for our people.

As we consider this report, it is important that we remain within the overall context of what can be achieved. Regional councils deal at the level of bulk supply of services to our people and therefore require a great deal of coordination and planning. I feel it would not be out of place for me to mention, once again, that due to the failure of central Government to implement the constitutional prescripts that all municipalities be given an equitable share of resources, district councils have been left underfunded. In light of this, I am particularly proud of the work which our Mayor has brought out of this district council. We must remain aware of these constraints, however, recognising the need for greater coordination, cooperation, interaction, mobilisation and support. I trust that our amaKhosi will be aware of the overarching dimension of planning and coordination involved in service delivery, and participate in determining what the future should secure and what should be done now to secure it. I respected our Mayor even at the time when she was forced to go to Court in order to get her Council’s equitable share.

It is likewise important to draw the focus onto the tangibles, such as reticulation of water and other immediately necessary services which are being delivered. If we are to enhance delivery, political representatives must be held accountable for what they do. Today’s report back is an excellent way to generate a culture of accountability which is so essential to good governance. However, it is important that people begin to realise that it is not politicians who deliver services. In fact, the entitlement to services comes from the law, and their delivery is the product of a complex machinery which is the State. In this case, the machinery of delivery is the municipality, and it is shaped by laws and practices which cannot be reshaped by political representatives. The function of our political representatives is to direct this machinery to function at its best, so that delivery may be achieved for all our people.

In practical terms, the better the delivery machinery functions, the more it produces and the less resources it requires to run itself. We will only be able to tell if the machinery is being well-run if we have a means of quantifying what has been achieved by the end of each year. The report of the Mayor gives us a yardstick against which we may measure the success of the delivery machinery of this municipality. For this reason, I believe it is essential that mayors and political representatives report to the people whom they serve and those who voted them into office. I have always held it to be very important that the people being served take precedence over the leader in service. I am well aware that my own work could not be accomplished without the assistance, support and goodwill of my people. It is wonderful to meet people on a more personal level and to exchange thanks as we consider together what we have achieved.

Somehow, I find myself in that type of situation today. I am humbled by the compliment our Mayor, Ms Magwaza, our Premier, Dr Mtshali, and other leaders of our communities have chosen to pay me, by recognising the accolades I have received abroad. I know that this opportunity has presented itself several times in the past year, but I have pushed it aside as something less important that the day to day work which we must accomplish. I know that the Mayor and the Premier and other leaders have been firm in their determination to honour me, however, and I do not know of a man who could withstand such sincere appreciation and respect. It is with great appreciation, therefore, that I accept recognition within my home for awards which I received abroad. In the last two years I have been honoured to receive the Charlton Heston "Courage Under Fire" Award from the American Conservative Union in the United States, which ceremony was attended by three thousand people. I have also received the Medal for Honourable Friendship of the Overseas Chinese from the Government of Taiwan.

For both of these, I am honoured. But somehow it means more to me to be appreciated here in my home, as I am today, than to receive awards from international leaders. It is saddening to think that I have received more accolades and awards outside of our country for the work that I have accomplished for my country, than I have within these borders. For instance, I have received an award as the first trade unionist from the American people, the George Meany Human Rights Award, and another as a conservationist from the German people. However, my own people have not bestowed upon me these same honours. I am reminded that when Christ went to Nazareth during His time of public ministry He was not well received. He confirmed an ancient Latin proverb when He said that a prophet is not respected among his own people. Today, I feel far greater joy at the appreciation of my own people than I have ever felt overseas.

Therefore, I must thank amaKhosi and the Premier and our Mayor, and all other leaders of our communities, for acknowledging my work and achievements in this way. After all, the accolades I receive throughout the world are really received by those who follow me and share my work. As I leader, I am well aware that nothing could be accomplished without the hard work of the people I serve. Together, as a leader and a constituency, we have carried out a course of action which is surely worthy of praise. To my mind, whatever succeeds in meeting needs, whatever uplifts our communities, whatever creates sustainable development, is praiseworthy work. It is through joint sacrifices and collegial wisdom that we have accomplished so much, so far. Without the support of my people, I could not go overseas and be recognised as having achieved anything worthy of praise.

As we meet today to hear the report of our Mayor, I welcome the dialogue we will share. I know that out of meetings such as these come the tangible results for which we may take pride. As always, may the benefit be for our people.