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We are here today because we all share the same mission: to create the best enabling environment for our people, not only today but for generations into the future.

By Kgosi Leruo Molotlegi

We are here today because we all share the same mission: to create the best enabling environment for our people, not only today but for generations into the future. This year’s platinum sector strike reminded us of how vulnerable we are in the Rustenburg Valley. Too many of our people face hunger if the mines falter. Too many of our businesses must retrench or close. We still live in an environment of risk, not one of resilience. The day to day welfare of our people and the health of our local economy are still too highly dependent on one source – platinum mining. Of course, we are grateful to the land for sharing these riches with us for a time. We recognise the contribution of those who work hard to bring the raw stone from the earth, to process the ore into pure metal and to bring that metal to market so that we can turn some of its value into schools, clinics, water pipes and roads. But we know that platinum in our land will deplete. This is a certainty that we can build on. Indeed, it is THE certainty that we MUST build all our future plans around. To be successful, we must do three things:

  • We must recognise the urgency of radically transforming our local society and economy to be diverse and resilient
  • We must consolidate and coordinate the resources of all stakeholders, including the finances, the institutional capacities and the ideas
  • We must plan, plan and plan.

We are launching two initiatives today that will take us far down this road to success. The Memorandum of Understanding between the Rustenburg Local Municipality and the Royal Bafokeng Nation deals with HOW we can urgently plan and work together, while the Regional Masterplan will help us know WHAT must be done to achieve a diverse and resilient society.

First let me say a few more words about the MOU that we are signing today.

This Memorandum of Understanding between a local municipality and a traditional authority is significant because it is one of the first, if not THE first such agreement in South Africa that gives concrete expression to provisions in law for service delivery collaboration between municipalities and traditional authorities. Such collaboration is envisioned in the Constitution, the Traditional Leadership and Governance Framework Act and its Provincial versions, as well as the Municipal Systems Act, yet it is very rarely implemented.

When discussing the relationships between municipal and traditional modes of governance there is often a focus on the differences, as if we were dealing with two mutually exclusive and inherently opposed institutional forms. Yet here we have the opportunity to appreciate and build on our similarities and complementarities. As I said at the beginning, we share the same constituency: the members of a traditional community are also residents of a municipality, citizens of our state and the electorate that chooses our government.

Many of the officials in our municipality are simultaneously active members within traditional structures. We share a concern for the dignity, welfare and long-term prosperity of our members and residents. As leaders and representative structures, we follow public processes that give us mandates and hold us accountable. As managers of collective resources, we share an interest in the most effective, least wasteful and most transparent use of the money available to our community. To this end, we have systems for establishing needs, planning responses, identifying service providers, implementing projects and monitoring their impact.

We may have slightly different ways of fulfilling all these functions, but this is where we will learn from each other and adapt to each other’s needs, processes and timeframes. The focus of this MOU is to share and coordinate whatever resources we have at our disposal, for the betterment of our community. These resources are to some extent financial, but more importantly we will be sharing information, knowledge, ideas and human capacity. To the extent that we are treading on new ground together, here in Rustenburg and in South Africa more generally, we shall do so humbly, with respect for each other, a willingness to learn, and a constant concern for the welfare of the people we all ultimately serve. Secondly, we are also launching the new Masterplan for the Rustenburg Region today.

The Regional Masterplan will, when complete, provide a shared framework for infrastructure, environmental protection and social projects by the RLM, RBN and mining companies. The aim is to reduce the inefficiencies created by separate and uncoordinated planning processes and to enable an integrated and economically diversified region. The Masterplan development process will be collaborative, integrating the existing planning frameworks such as the municipal IDP, the Rustenburg Spatial Development Plan, the Social and Labour Plans of the mining companies, and the RBN’s smaller Masterplan and social development planning mechanisms. Finally, the process will seek to build shared systems for plan implementation and monitoring among all the stakeholders. The value of a plan is never that it is developed once and then cast in stone… the process of developing shared goals, shared methods and active communication is key, so that new risks and new opportunities can be recognized and responded to collectively as they arise.

Ordinarily, this kind of planning is done by countries or major metropolises, not by local authorities or traditional communities. Furthermore, we are trying to entrench a culture of long-term planning and transparent project management in a community where only a quarter of the adult population has completed high school and only 5% have any higher qualifications. This may seem impossible, but it is not. The ability to plan and to think long-term for the benefit of future generations is not dependent on formal western education. It is dependent on a strong community identity, on pride in one’s environment, and on giving people a respectful space to express and debate their vision for their own and their children’s and grandchildren’s futures. For any plan to be effective, it is extremely important that it is understood and valued by the people it relates to. So while this Regional Masterplan will require technical expertise, which we have brought on board with Surbana Consultants from Singapore, it will also fundamentally be a political and social process to bring on board all the residents of the Rustenburg area.

Colleagues – for we must now all see ourselves as colleagues working towards a shared goal – we stand at the brink of a new era. Let us hope that when we look back from the vantage point of 2040, we will be able to tell our grandchildren about this day and that they will see and feel and live the changes all around them that we have initiated today. Re a leboga