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Deputy Minister Bapela’s Statement Calling for Multicultural Tolerance

The dawn of democracy introduced a new era of relationship-building through reconciliation and forgiveness across all races and cultures.

The Deputy Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (CoGTA), Mr Obed Bapela was shocked by the event at Boulders Mall in Gauteng Province where a member of the public was discriminated upon and treated with disdain for wearing his traditional attire.

Guided by the interim Constitution of 1993 (interim Constitution), and thereafter the final Constitution of 1996, we should emphasise that any form of prejudice or discrimination has no place in our multicultural and multiracial society. Any action, behaviour or conduct that seeks to undermine our cultural diversity is an antithesis to our constitutional principles of respect, tolerance and coexistence.

This unfortunate event has shown practically that managing diversity is proving to be a somewhat difficult process that can’t be left to the government alone. To protect the constitutional rights and freedoms of individuals and groups alike, all South Africans have to play their part to recognise our diversity which makes us unique.

Whilst it is understandable that some in our society might not be exposed to different cultural practices, it cannot be correct to discriminate and disrespect the rights of others. It is incumbent upon individuals to acquaint themselves with various cultures in our country as this is fundamental to addressing cultural conflict.

It is important that anyone living in a diverse country such as ours should respect and have due regard for other individuals who observe or practice a variety of cultures. The expression of these multiculturalism features through attire, cuisine and language should be elevated to rightful prominence.

As South Africans, we should be understanding, tolerant and empathetic towards issues of diversity within the context of culture and religion as we take profound pride in the rich and unique composition of cultures, customs, values and traditions that define our diverse nation.

Recognising that our strength is in our diversity we should take up an important role of becoming cultural activists and proponents of tolerance for our different cultures.

Government will continue to partner with respective institutions in pursuit of promoting multiculturalism and tolerance in an effort to build a better country.

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