South African President Cyril Ramaphosa addresses the 78th United Nations General Assembly

President Cyril Ramaphosa encouraged a program that is aimed at empowering traditional leaders so that they can act as change agents in their communities.

Speaking during the annual official opening of the National House of Traditional and Khoi-San Leaders (NHTKL) at the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) Chamber in Cape Town on Thursday, the president welcomed the training program, facilitating socio-economic development.

The program, Art of Facilitating Socio-Economic Development for Traditional Leaders Program, was launched in collaboration between the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs and the National School of Government (NSG).

"We know that capacity building is essential if we are to enhance the role traditional leaders play in development," Ramaphosa said, SA News reported.

The program is free and funded by the NSG to support and empower traditional leaders to help the communities in various aspects, including creating sustainable jobs and building an active rural citizenry that will eventually support the economic development of the country.

"It will provide the Traditional Leaders with knowledge and skills to identify and utilize local natural resources in an environmentally sustainable way," the NSG said.

The program is "aimed at capacitating Traditional Leaders with knowledge, skills, attitudes, and practical capabilities to engage and empower communities to use the available opportunities for their own socio-economic development," it added.

Furthermore, the NSG explained that this program will support "a range of role-players who work closely with communities, that are, volunteers from the community, Community Development Workers, government officials, and Traditional Leaders."

Talking about the upcoming elections in the country, the president in his keynote urged all the traditional leaders to continue encouraging all the eligible voters to participate in the national and provincial elections on May 29.

"As we have done before, we call on traditional leaders to actively promote free and fair campaigning, and to ensure that all voters can exercise their democratic right," he said.

The general elections will mark the seventh election in the country since the end of the apartheid era. In this year's election, the ruling African National Congress party will be locking horns with opposition parties, including the Economic Freedom Fighters party and the Democratic Alliance.

Earlier this month, the Electoral Commission (IEC) asked all the parties to send submissions for the distribution of the 200 regional seats in the National Assembly.