Speech by Ms Bathabile Dlamini, Deputy Minister of Social Development, on the debate of The Presidency budget vote, National Assembly, Cape Town
12 May 2010
Honourable President, Jacob Zuma
Deputy President, Kgalema Motlanthe
Ladies and gentlemen
A few days ago, our fourth democratic government turned one year old. This reminds us of the journey we began in 1994, which was a result of a rich history and heritage from which we must learn as we move forward to consolidate our democracy.
In moving ahead, we must follow in the footsteps of our forebears, who, in the early 20th century, saw the need for unity in action to liberate all South Africans from the yoke of racist oppression. This need for unity inspired the formation of the African National Congress (ANC) in 1912.
Since its inception, the ANC has pursued the principle of united action. Therefore it forged unity with other progressive movements in the spirit of solidarity with other oppressed South Africans and white compatriots committed to ending the scourge of Apartheid. This formed the foundation of the dream of a non-racist and non-sexist society. It is around this dream that our people mobilised all sections of South African society to fight for freedom, human rights and dignity.
Mr President, the history of our struggle teaches us that victory against any form of adversity requires the participation of multitudes of people and their organisations. In bringing all these actors together the ANC built a national liberation movement guided by the value of unity, despite the diversity of the peoples and organisations in our society.
In this context, it is fitting to recall the words of a great pioneer and revolutionary, Pixley Ka Isaka Seme, when he called on Africans to forget the differences of the past and unite together in one organisation. I quote: "We are one people, these divisions, these jealousies, are the cause of all our woes today".
It is our view that Seme’s guidance should find expression in the society we live in today and inspire us to work together in building a united, non-racial, non-sexist and prosperous South Africa. In this regard, we must build a new social movement, which will re-energise every citizen of our country irrespective of race, gender, religion, age, whether they reside in rural or urban areas, around the idea that the future and prosperity of our nation is in our hands.
Accordingly, let us strengthen a social compact between government and the all the people of South Africa and ensure that we base it on progressive social values that seek to build our society rather than to destroy it. Mr President we need to follow your example in this regard as you recently demonstrated when you reached out to the poor and working class members of the Afrikaner community.
Further, I want to emphasise that we need the concerted inclusion and participation of traditional leaders in all the platforms that seek to build our society as they have historically been active agents of building unity in our communities.
Women must be at the forefront of championing these values. Having achieved the 50/50 quota for gender parity in government, we must now pursue policies and actions that will contribute to the full emancipation of women. The ANC has always championed the idea that women's rights are human rights and I am very proud that we continue to live out this ideal.
The rights of women include our right to bodily integrity so that we can decide what to do with our own bodies and our own lives. These are the values of choice and substantive democratic practice that should shape our people and our institutions. I want to take this opportunity to call on all women in positions of power and influence, not to rest on their laurels. We have a responsibility to continue the fight against all forms of discrimination, especially because of the positions we have been privileged to hold.
Towards the achievement of these values, The Presidency must take the lead in working with inclusive women's organisations such as the Progressive Women’s Movement to address common challenges facing women regardless of their station in life.
The existing partnership between government and business under your stewardship is commendable. However, there must be an understanding that the economy is still in the hands of a few South Africans, predominantly white males and a growing but small black male elite.
It is now high time for a social compact that aims to transform the economy for the benefit of all South Africans. The so-called democratic dividend must be for all who work and live in South Africa.
In terms of women participation in the economy, we need to continue to open doors for women to do business through providing access to skills, capital and preferential procurement processes.
The relationship between government and the workers must consistently be nurtured, given the role that workers play in the economy. We must continue to promote and protect the rights of workers. Of course, we expect them to exercise these rights with responsibility.
Equally, we expect the leaders of companies to be responsible stewards of the economy and to avoid the risk of sacrificing long-term growth and sustained job creation by succumbing to the type of greed which precipitated the current global economic crisis.
Mr President, I take this opportunity to applaud labour, business and community based organisations for their participation in the National Economic Development and Labour Council (NEDLAC). We set up institutions like this to foster social dialogue and to facilitate consensus on issues of social and economic policy. Let us strengthen institutions like NEDLAC as we recommit ourselves to be a nation that engages in discourse and indeed, united action to solve our problems.
Mr President, united action requires the involvement of civil society organisations. South Africa has a rich history of social activism buttressed by a vibrant civil society.
In the 1980s, with solidarity support from the international community, we created a state of dual power throughout black communities, wherein organisations such as South African Committee for Higher education (SACHED) Trust, the National Education Crisis Committee, the South African Council of Churches, the network of advice offices and the Black Sash, and various civic movements provided alternative services and built peoples institutions for peoples power. Investments in strengthening this tradition will ensure that we emerge victorious against racism, sexism, poverty and underdevelopment.
In addition, we will further rely on the influence and space that faith based organisations (FBOs) occupy in our society. These are organisations that must help us instil the values espoused in our Constitution. Among others, these include human, civil and political rights as well as social, economic and cultural rights.
Mr President I can proudly say that generally, faith based organisations have been supportive of the progressive policies which promote gender equality that respective ANC led governments have put into place. For this, we say: Malibongwe!
Mr President, it is our task to not only build South Africa, but to build a collective South African and African identity. To do this we need to move from the so-called tolerance towards acceptance of progressive customs and traditions.
I want to emphasise that many of the immutable values such as mutual respect, dignity and integrity are embedded in the cultures of most South Africans. Equally, my neighbours should not feel aggrieved when I slaughter a beast, they must accept that this is how I communicate with my ancestors! Let us discuss what is needed for us to build a united South Africa.
There was a point in our history when young African intellectuals emerged from mission schools to translate their education into practical scenarios that responded to the challenges of their times.
That is what our country needs currently, an emergence of professionals and intellectuals that help us respond to the development needs of our country.
In this regard, we need to invite, particularly black intellectuals, to be part of the social discourse and ensure that we accept original views regardless of race or gender. They must come up with fruitful views on how to take the country forward.
We need organic intellectuals who grow out of communities and use those experiences to shape a better country for all citizens. Even in our universities, we need staff and students to broaden their horizons. They must never be concerned about how high-blown their ideas are, but how grounded those ideas are.
In conclusion, I must emphasise that we need to build social capital as key to dealing with the challenges we face, and ultimately in creating a prosperous and caring society.
I therefore commend and applaud the many non-governmental organisations (NGOs), faith based organisations, development agencies and academia, among other partners, who continue to work jointly with us to create a better life for all our people. They have realised that it is our collective responsibility to make South Africa a better place for all its citizens. Truly Mr President, working together we can do more.
The ANC supports the budget vote number one.
I thank you.
Issued by: Department of Social Development
12 May 2010
Issued by: Department of Social Development
12 May 2010
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