A Roundtable discussion was held in Mthatha, Eastern Cape. It was another in the series looking at the relationship between ordinary people and communities, their leaders and the traditional leaders in particular, and the questions of land and even those around land use, with mining as an example of the point of contention especially when the community is at variance with its leadership, and even the state. At this particular Roundtable, focus was mainly on the dysfunctional relationship between traditional leaders and many of the people and communities that live on and work traditional lands. The challenges in this area are often compounded by the people’s limited literacy, leadership that is not working well with people, and in some case leadership that is working against the interests of the communities and the people. The biggest need from ordinary people at this particular Roundtable was the need for greater empowerment when it comes to dealing with legalities and technicalities around farming and state programmes and projects that they need to access, and especially the issues around land rights, which seem to come up all the time. However, as Bishop Siphuka said at the discussion, the question of land and land use should not be separated from the reality of people’s relationship with the environment and the need for conscientisation and awareness of the need for a healthy and ethical relationship with the land and the environment.
Fr Matsepane Morare SJ with guests who attended the Roundtable in Umthatha