It is not wise to bite the land that feeds you

2017-02-19 06:10
Natural resources community members demonstrate for the protection of their land. (Jeff Brown)

Natural resources community members demonstrate for the protection of their land. (Jeff Brown)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Livhuwani Matsila

Who said that the economy and its related challenges were only for economists and those in the financial sector or government to worry about? Should we continue to be spectators and care less about the dire economic situation in which our beloved country is trapped?

No, we cannot pretend to be oblivious to the financial calamity that is forming in front of us, only to wake up when it is already too late, with no way to move beyond what would by then be an insurmountable mountain.

The dire economic situation in our country enjoins each one of us, as leaders and citizens in our own right, to make some meaningful contribution towards socioeconomic recovery and stability as we strive to create a better life for all.

So far, such efforts have been the exclusive domain and privilege of politicians, the media, academics and intellectuals. This should not be the case. There is definitely a role for each and every one of us to play, a niche in which we can contribute significantly.

My focus here, however, would be on what it is that traditional leaders can do with what is in their immediate reach and endowment.

It is disheartening that traditional leaders and community activists are reduced to spectators of little relevance in finding solutions.

In reality, traditional leaders are the custodians of the land and natural resources in rural areas where the impacts of the current economic crisis cripple poor families as jobs and economic opportunities are becoming scarcer.

There is ample scientific evidence that natural resources such as land, water, soil and biomass are critical commodities that require proper management if we are to achieve economic growth and recover from the current economic meltdown.

While government has been implementing programmes at the cutting-edge of environmental management, there are growing concerns regarding the prevalent abuse of land and natural resources across the entire South African landscape.

Law enforcement efforts by the department of environmental affairs require dedicated support by traditional leaders in order to sustain their momentum and improve on the gains made thus far. However, it is not surprising that traditional leaders are not considered to be important role players in mainstream economic activities, as their powers in natural resource management have been eroded over a period of time.

Historical reasons include colonial destabilisation and disruption of indigenous traditions, which promoted principles of sustainable utilisation of natural resources and general respect for land. Recent reasons include the democratic government’s underestimation of the role of traditional leaders in socioeconomic development.

As traditional leaders, we might have brought this enigma on ourselves as some succumbed to socioeconomic pressures and participated in the abuse of natural resources. Traditional leaders who sell land for next to nothing are abusing land, let alone that selling communal land is not in the best interest of the communities who should derive tangible benefits from it.

Our rural areas, which were once the epitome of pristine, beautiful and tranquil landscapes, are now characterised by high levels of poverty, noise, illegal dumping of waste, water pollution, overgrazing, bush encroachment and impending environmental disasters.

Our government and the private sector are particularly called upon to include traditional leaders in all initiatives for economic recovery and growth. Current efforts by the department of environmental affairs to include traditional leaders in the fight against the abuse of natural resources are a step in the right direction to ensure the restoration of the authority of traditional leaders in modern society.

We must all join hands to preserve our natural resources to avoid environmental disasters that could collapse our economy, livelihoods and social fabric.

Chief Matsila is the founder of the Matsila Community Development Trust.


How could traditional leaders ameliorate our economic challenges?

SMS us on 35697 using the keyword CHIEFS and tell us what you think. Please include your name and province. SMSes cost R1.50

Read more on:    economy

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

Lest we forget SS Mendi

2017-12-10 06:09

Inside News24


WATCH: Man films himself going down water slide upside down as things go very wrong…

What is at first an exciting tummy-turning adventure stunt, quickly turns into a scarily bad idea caught on camera. Take a look:


You won't want to miss...

Best date night restaurants in South Africa
WATCH: Ryan Reynolds offers fans a free tattoo in new Deadpool 2 teaser
Should you date your co-worker?
Hip Cape Town bars to discover this summer
Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.