Speech by Mr Andries Nel, MP, Deputy Minister of Cooperative Governance & Traditional Affairs (Provincial & Local Government) during a debate on 15 March 2016:
Human rights in the context of building a National Democratic Society underpinned by the vision of a united, non-racial, non-sexist, democratic and prosperous South Africa
This year we mark Human Rights Month under the theme: “South Africa United against Racism.”
We honour the martyrs of Sharpeville and KwaLanga – brutally massacred on 21 March 1960 while protesting peacefully against apartheid pass laws, leading the United Nations to declare the day as the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.
We also remember the youth of June 1976 and the Womens’ March of 1956.
This year marks the 20th anniversary of the signing of the Constitution at Sharpeville on 10 December 1996.
The Department of Justice and Correctional Services recently released South Africa’s National Action Plan to Combat Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance.
The NAP recognises that significant progress has been made over two decades of freedom – yet there is still much more to be done.
South African society remains divided. Many schools, suburbs and places of worship are integrated, but many are not. South Africa remains one of the most unequal economies in the world. The privilege attached to race, class, space and gender has not been fully reversed.
Public policy has had a significant redistributive content. Close to 60% of government spending is allocated to the social wage. Such expenditure has more than doubled in real terms in the past decade.
Per capita health spending has doubled. Free basic education is provided to the poorest 60% of learners.
Almost three million housing units have been constructed. Access to basic services such as piped water, sanitation, electricity and refuse removal have all improved, all contributing to a decline in both absolute and relative poverty.
However poverty and inequality still exist. South Africa has not fundamentally touched the structure of the economy in order to effect true economic transformation.
20 years into freedom, we are still grappling with poverty, inequality and, the black majority still owns only 3% of the Johannesburg stock exchange.
We need to move faster to achieve meaningful economic emancipation through radical economic transformation.
Systemic and inherited racism must be confronted by society as otherwise it will be reproduced and reinforced across generations.
It is this inherited psyche of racial prejudice, breakdown in values, inequality of opportunity and massive poverty, as well as competition for scarce resources, which helps fuel racism and, more recently, xenophobia.
Discrimination on the grounds of sexuality and homophobic violence are also a major problem.
The National Action Plan provides South Africa with a comprehensive policy framework for programmes and strategies to combat racial discrimination.
The Minister of Justice will soon introduce a Hate Crimes Bill – sending a clear message that hate crimes will not be tolerated in South Africa.
However, a National Action Plan Against Racial Discrimination must be a truly national undertaking, involving all elements of government and society.
Human Rights Month is one of many opportunities for all South Africans to engage in constructive national dialogue on how to address the scourge of racism based on the National Action Plan.
In this regard we thank the Ahmed Kathrada and Nelson Mandela Foundations as well as the Anti-Racism Network South Africa for their role in supporting the NAP. We also commend the initiative by Independent Newspapers to mobilise society against racism.
As deel van hierdie dialog moet ons onsself afvra of ons ons kinders en kleinkinders wil verdoem tot ‘n eindelose herhaling van die verdeeldheid en die konflikte van die verlede, en indien ons antwoord “nee” is, moet ons onsself die volgende vrae afvra:
Eerstens, wat doen ons om die geweldige ongelykhede in ons samelewing aan te spreek?
Vir solank as wat sommige tale uitgespreek word met aksente van armoede, hongersnood en siekte en terwyl infleksies van gemaksugtige selfsug aan ander kleef, sal ons mekaar nooit behoorlik kan hoor nie.
Vir solank as wat die skakerings van die kleur van ons vel nie net strale van die Afrika-son waaronder ons gemeenskaplike lotsbestemming lê, weerkaats nie maar ook die skrille kontraste in ons rykdom en welvaart sal dit pynlik wees om mekaar te aanskou.
Vir solank as wat daar ‘n ryk wit nasie en ‘n arm swart nasie is, sal ons oë skaam bly om mekaar as gelykes te aanskou, as broers en susters en medeburgers van een nasie.
Tweedens, wat doen ons om dit moontlik te maak vir die jeug en veral die jong wit Suid-Afrikaners om die konflikte van die verlede te verstaan en te verwerk?
Vir solank as wat hul ouers en hul ouers se leiers swyg, sal jong wit Suid-Afrikaners wonder wat dit nou eintelik is wat deur regstellende
Firstly, what are we doing to address the tremendous imbalances in our society? As long as some of our languages are pronounced with accents of poverty, starvation and illness, and while inflections of self- indulgent selfishness cling to others, we will never be able to hear one another properly. As long as the shades of our skin colour do not only reflect the rays of the African sun beneath which our joint destiny lies, but also the stark contrasts in our wealth and welfare, it will be painful to look at one another. As long as there is a rich white nation and a poor black nation our eyes will shy away from viewing one another as equals, as brothers and sisters and fellow citizens of one country.
Secondly, what are we doing to make it possible for the youth, and young white South Africans in particular, to understand and process the conflicts of the past? As long as their parents and their parents’ leader’s remain silent, young white South Africans will wonder what precisely has to be corrected through affirmative action and the pain and frustration which is
optrede reggestel moet word en sal die pyn en frustrasie wat eie is aan die onkunde hulle verhoed om te sien dat hulle die geslag in ons geskiedenis is wat die blinkste toekoms voor hulle het, vry om hul menslike potensiaal ten volle te ontwikkel, vry van die haat en verdeeldheid van die verlede.
Vir solank as wat hulle ouers swyg, sal hulle nie verstaan dat wat op hulle rus nie die morele blaam vir die onreg en sonde van apartheid is nie maar die verantwoordelikheid om die voorregte wat apartheid vir hulle meegebring het in te span om ‘n beter en meer regverdige lewe vir almal te skep.
Derdens, wat doen ons om te
die kulturele, taaldiversiteit
peculiar to ignorance will prevent them from seeing that they are the generation in our history which has the brightest future ahead of them, free to develop their human potential fully, free from the hatred and division of the past. As long as their parents remain silent, they will not understand that what rests upon them is not moral blame for the injustice and sins of apartheid, but the responsibility to harness the privileges which apartheid brought them in order to create a better life for all.
Thirdly, what are we doing to ensure that the cultural, religious and linguistic diversity with which we are blessed brings us closer to one another and does not result in the continued division of the past?
Ben Okri tells us in A Way of Being Free that: “When victims stop seeing themselves as victims and discover the power of transformation, forces are born on this planet. The possibilities of a new history depend on it. What is done with these possibilities depends on how wisely we love. And ultimately we are bound in fate with whom ever the other may be. We are bound in the fact that we have to deal with one another. There’s no way around it.”
A recent survey conducted by Futurefact suggests that young South Africans agree with Ben Okri.
The survey found that: “… the majority of young students, irrespective of party, believe black and white people in South Africa cannot prosper without each other – though young DA students are less likely to believe this (DA 57%, EFF 62% and ANC 66%).
Jos Kuper of Futurefact, writing in City Press (13 March 2016) observes: “It is also fascinating that 64% of EFF students disagree that whites should still feel guilty about apartheid. It is no surprise, perhaps, that more than seven in 10
young DA students have this view, although it is interesting that only 40% of ANC supporters believe this.”
Kuper goes on to ask: “Why are young DA students less conciliatory? Has the DA somehow been instrumental in cementing this view through its policies? Or is this a generation that is reluctant to take responsibility for the horrible things that happened in South Africa before they were born?
Jos Kuper might find answers to some of his questions in an article by Gilad Isaacs, a researcher at Wits University.
Isaacs asks in, “An open society for some?”:
“Do we not also need radical wealth redistribution in order to give everyone a fair shot?
The DA’s position on this spectrum is confused. On the one hand its policy document acknowledges that the debilitating consequences of poverty, poor education, lack of access to basic healthcare and employment limit the ability to enjoy freedom. On the other hand the remedy offered is paper thin; it does not speak about equal opportunity but simply opportunity for all, and that opportunity only extends as far as the chance to “develop one’s capabilities”, with an emphasis placed on education and skills development.
“Essentially, everyone in the race gets to go to boot camp and no formal discrimination is permitted, but the benefits which inherited privilege provides, and the many handicaps that disadvantage brings are left unchallenged.
The DA’s flip-flop and ultimate rejection of the Employment Equity Bill last year is a good example. In the words of Helen Zille, “empowerment strategies that broaden opportunities […] and create jobs” for individuals are in, but systematic intervention on behalf of a disadvantaged group is out.”
“The DA speaks of every person as being equal but nowhere in its official platform does it speak of a more equal society; indeed its underlying philosophical approach is completely incompatible with the latter.”
“Ultimately genuine opportunity for all not only creates a more equal society, but is only possible on the basis of radical policies that simultaneously pursue creating equal opportunities and far-more equal starting points. Surely we want a world where none of us enter the arena with only one leg.”
This is why the ANC is committed to the building of a National Democratic Society in line with the Constitution and the National Development Plan. Both documents trace their roots to the Freedom Charter and The Africans’ Claims.
The National Development Plan envisages that by 2030, South Africans will be more conscious of the things they have in common than their differences.
Their lived experiences will progressively undermine and cut across the divisions of race, gender, space and class.
The nation will be more accepting of peoples’ multiple identities.
Ben Okri makes the point that: “The way we see the other is connected to the way we see ourselves. The other is ourselves as the stranger.”
The poet Mbuyiseni Oswald Mtshali makes that same point in his poem Izwi elivela kwabafileyo (A voice from the dead):
Ngalizwa ngisebuthongweni lingibiza ngokuhlebeza.
Ndodana yami! alikho izulu phezu kwamafu.
Yebo, Izulu liphakathi enhliziyweni yakho. uNkulunkulu akasiwo umfanekiso onentshebe emhlophe njengeqhwa.
Yebo, uNkulunkulu yi
Asikho isihogo esivutha ngesibabuli netshe eligqogqayo.
Yebo, Isihogo siyi nzondo elokoza phakathi esweni lakho.
I heard it
Yes, Heaven is in your heart. God is no picture
Yes, God is
There is no hell burning with sulphur and brimstone.
Yes, Hell is
Yes, indeed hell is the hate flickering in our eyes. Let us reject this hell. Let us reject this hate. Let us as the elected representatives of our people in this Parliament say that we are United Against Racism.
As the ANC we say: Asinamona, asinanzondo, siyayidumisa i-Ningizimu Afrika. We call upon all South Africans to joins us in doing so.