Ramaphosa made the commendation during the opening of the National House of Traditional Leaders in parliament in the Mother City where he addressed the leaders in their commitment to help government and their people during the pandemic.
“I’d like to express our gratitude to you, traditional leaders of our people, for joining government in fighting this pandemic.
“You openly and demonstratively worked with us to ensure that communities observed the regulations and the health protocols, including respect to funerals and other gathering regulations,” he said.
The president said he was particularly impressed in the traditional leaders’ response to the government’s request to postpone the “right to passage” rituals known as “initiation ceremonies” which tradition leaders conduct annually for the youth in their transition from boys into “men.”
Ramaphosa said the initiation process was one testing area for the government but traditional leaders ensured that there was adherence to the Covid-19 pandemic prevention regulations.
“You were creative, you came forward with ideas, which proved once again that working together is the best way of tackling the problems that beset our country.
"I was pleased that we were able to find each other around a very difficult and trying issue such as initiation ceremonies,” the president said, “by agreeing to suspend the initiation rituals when the pandemic was at its peak during the second wave.”
He added: “As a result, we were able to ensure that fewer people were exposed to the virus. We know that the death of a single initiate is one death too many.”
The president also paid tribute to traditional leaders who have died since the beginning of the pandemic, making them part of the over 50,000 South Africans who have succumbed to the deadly virus since March 2020.