Contralesa president quits as ANC MP

Johannesburg – President of the Congress of Traditional Leaders of South Africa (Contralesa) Kgosi Setlamorago Thobejane has resigned as a Member of Parliament to focus on the needs of traditional communities.

"I cannot continue to stomach these contradictions," Thobejane said on Tuesday, a day after handing in his resignation.

The traditional leader is also spearheading talks within Contralesa for traditional leaders to start their own political party, which would challenge the ANC for support in rural communities.

A study supporting the establishment of new political party was presented to a special national general council hosted by Contralesa on January 28.

In 2016 traditional leaders announced that they were considering going it alone, accusing the ANC - which they have traditionally supported - of failing to appreciate the historic ties between the two organisations.

A task team is investigating the viability of the organisation becoming a political opposition party. The team is due to give Contralesa's national general council feedback in October 2017.

Thobejane accused the current government of perpetuating the legacy of the apartheid-era government.

"I am earning a salary, as a member of Parliament. That salary doesn't bring happiness to me. It continues to torture me. I feel what I am doing is not right to my people," said Thobejane.

He said he could no longer sit in a Parliament that supported the Spatial Planning and Land Use Management Act and that had passed the National Development Plan.

'Seven kings, only one gets a budget'

"The NDP says, 30 years after it's been adopted, it wants to see South Africa totally urbanised. There will be no space for traditional leadership, yet I am a part of that," he said.

Thobejane said he took the decision as he could no longer deceive himself.

"Whenever I go back home, I feel the pain of seeing our people continue to suffer in the manner that they continue to suffer. I am saying, I am going to join my people, fight with them, struggle with them for the economy to grow in order to fit what we need," said Thobejane.

The former ANC MP said he found no peace leading a fight against some of ANC's policies while serving the party in the National Assembly.

"I thought I must quit there, come back to Contralesa, look at better strategy and tactics to better the lives of South Africans," he said.

Traditional leaders have previously locked horns with the ANC over jailed AbaThembu King Buyelekhaya Dalindyebo, asking for President Jacob Zuma to pardon him.

Thobejane said kings needed to be treated equally in the country.

"There are seven recognised kings, but only one gets a budget," he said.

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