Address by the Deputy Minister of Social Development, Ms Bathabile Dlamini on the occasion of the Uniting Presbyterian Church Women's Fellowship conference, Rustenburg, North West
25 Sep 2009
Beloved brothers and sisters in the Lord
Comrades and friends
Ladies and gentlemen
I greet you all in the Holy name of our saviour Jesus Christ. It is quite an honour for me to join you here today on this occasion to showcase the important role that the Uniting Presbyterian Church is playing in this community development. I am pleased to note that faith based organisations have assumed a more important place in the development discourse.
On behalf of the Department of Social Development I would like to thank the Uniting Presbyterian Church for inviting us to make a contribution to your conference today. We are particularly pleased to be present at this conference because the issues covered today are very important concerns for us in the Department. We believe that women clearly have a critical role to play in community development initiatives.
I would like to commend the leadership of this church for taking this initiative, which will go a long way in enhancing the capacity of women to advance their calling. As you have correctly pointed out, the church’s calling is to fulfill the gospel of Jesus Christ by identifying with the poor.
I also want to thank the congregation of the Uniting Presbyterian Church and all others who have turned out in support of this initiative. I am optimistic that together we shall all be able to reach out to poor families and communities in need of our services.
I also take this opportunity to acknowledge the central role that faith based organisations have continued to play in addressing the challenges we face as a nation. I pay tribute to the wide array of faith based organisations, which work across the country to deliver not only the word of God but also relief services, compassion and hope to our people.
As government, we need faith based organizations to continue to be the conscience of our society, a moral custodian and a fearless champion of the interests of the poor and vulnerable. We need faith based organisations such as the Uniting Presbyterian Church to be part of a civil society mobilised to campaign for social justice and the protection of basic human rights.
As you all know, the church played a very critical role in bringing to an end the apartheid regime in our country. Those of us who were in the forefront of the struggle will know that churches have always served as a refugee and a place of spiritual nourishment for many cadres of the struggle from the brutal police force of the apartheid regime.
As government, much of our achievements over the last fifteen years were possible because of the cooperation we have with faith based organisations. Today, we have over 13 million beneficiaries receiving social grants, largely due to ability of faith based organisations to reach out to a large number of people.
As you are all aware, every community in the country, both in urban or rural areas benefit from faith based organizations whether in education, in health or through initiatives that support the vulnerable and needy in our society. It is our desire as the African National Congress (ANC) that faith based organisations continues to play an even bigger role in the future.
I say this because the interventions of faith based organisations in our lives, as individuals and as communities, have been tangible and positive. Just this morning, we have all witnessed the positive impact of our actions when we work together.
Indeed, on this occasion, I would like to underscore the need to strengthen the partnership between faith based organizations in the country and our government in serving the people. Such partnerships must be based on mutual understanding that both the faith based organisations and government have a responsibility to help each other, on the basis of our unique competencies, in realising our common goal of nation building and promoting social cohesion. In this way, we shall together be able to bring positive socio-economic changes that will enable all South Africans to realize their full potential.
On this day, I would like to underscore the need for strengthened partnership between our government and faith based organizations in fighting poverty, protecting children and fostering social cohesion in our country.
Religion, like music is universal and knows no national boundaries. It is a powerful tool of social transformation and social cohesion. The challenges we face today are simply too big for government to solve alone. We need an all-hands-on-deck approach. I therefore want to appeal to the Uniting Presbyterian Church to continue rising and responding effectively to the challenges that confront us as a growing democracy.
One such challenge is the growing number of orphans and vulnerable, including child headed households in the country. I also want to appeal to this congregation and many others around the country to partner with government to help individuals and families affected by HIV and AIDS to provide necessary care and support. Individually, the church members can also assist by fostering or adopting one or two children who need your love and care. By so doing, you will be investing in the future of our country. There is no better gift for a child than a loving parent and family.
We also acknowledge the role of the church as an important mainstay in the provision of care and support to our older persons. As a matter of urgency, we need to work more closely with faith based organisations in restoring the moral fibre of our society. We need to work together to address the unacceptably high levels of violent crimes threatening our communities.
More so, we need to create space for the participation of youth in activities of the church, economy and every sphere of our society to revive the spirit of youth activism and patriotism in our nation. This is a course of action we need to collectively pursue should we have the desire to turn the tide against substance abuse, crime and violence and the general decline in morality among the young people.
Faith based organisations should play a leading role in promoting moral regeneration and in the promotion of values to help us to build the caring society we envisage.
Ladies and gentlemen, faith based and community based organisations remain at the forefront of service delivery in many places. For me, this conference represents an important milestone and demonstrates what we can achieve when we work together with faith based organisations in building a caring society.
In conclusion, I call upon women of all religions, and indeed all faith based organisations, to pray for our country, for our leaders and for peace and prosperity to prevail in the country.
Thank you and God bless you all.
Issued by: Department of Social Development
25 September 2009
Issued by: Department of Social Development
25 Sep 2009
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