Thursday, 16 December 2021

Kakamas: Efforts to intensify national reconciliation as a way to heal divisions of the past need to continue says Sport, Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa.

“We need to continuously intensify the effort towards national reconciliation as a way to heal the divisions of the past, perpetuated along the lines of race, language, culture, religion and other social constructs.

“The reconciliation we speak about here is a project that involves all South Africans,” said Mthethwa.

The Minister addressed the National Reconciliation Day celebrations on Thursday under the theme: “The Year of Charlotte Mannya Maxeke: promoting reconciliation during the 25th anniversary of the Constitution”.

“For reconciliation to be meaningful, black people, and black women in particular, need to be economically empowered.

“We have walked this path together since 1994, with notable successes and pitfalls along the way. Our people have shown great resilience in the midst of the many challenges they continue to face each day,” he said at the celebrations held at the Cillie Sports Ground, in Kakamas outside Upington in the Northern Cape.

He said that while the triple challenges of poverty, unemployment and inequality remain, South Africans still have faith in this important national project of reconciliation.

“It is this unwavering belief in the project in the midst of despair and desolation that should be used as a foothold to encourage us to do more,” he said adding that government remains committed to the national reconciliation agenda.

“My appeal to you today is to join hands in a public display of unity so that we may foster mutual understanding. So that together we can make this great country of ours a truly socially integrated, cohesive and inclusive one.

“And so that we may lay a firm foundation for future generations of South Africans to have a common national identity and pride in a non-racial, non-sexist, democratic society underpinned by shared prosperity.”

The Legacy of Charlotte Maxeke

This Reconciliation Day marks the last of the 2021 commemorations and celebrations which memorialises and thus immortalise the struggle icon, uMama Charlotte Mannya Maxeke.

Mthethwa said that government has sought to use the national commemorations as one of the platforms through which to cement Mama Maxeke’s legacy.

“This undertaking also has to do with our unwavering commitment to change and correct the liberation narrative which has largely been male dominated and has thus far relegated women’s role in the struggle to a mere auxiliary function. It is for this reason that we declared 2021 as the Year of Charlotte Maxeke,” he said.

He said the theme underscores the fact that six days ago, South Africa marked the 25th  anniversary of the enactment of the Constitution.

“This was indeed the most significant and historic moment in the creation of our constitutional democratic order,” he said.

The Minister acknowledged that while unemployment, especially among the youth, poverty and inequality still remain as blemishes on the national reconciliation agenda, “we are encouraged by the resilience of our people and their belief in this imperative.”

Fighting COVID-19

Meanwhile, Mthethwa has urged South Africans to use every available opportunity to remind themselves of the basic health protocols that need to be adhered to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.

He has also called on those who have yet to vaccinate, to do so.

“In this regard, I want to make this special appeal particularly to men and young people who are among the most resistant cohorts against COVID-19 vaccination,” he said.

No real reconciliation if GBVF scourge persists

“There can be no real reconciliation nor can South Africa be a nation at peace with itself, if the scourge of gender-based violence and femicide (GBVF) continues,” remarked the Minister, Nathi Mthethwa.

The Minister used the opportunity to address the scourge of GBVF in South Africa, which saw a peak during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mthethwa said that in dealing with this pandemic, the country has been rudely awakened to the persistence of patriarchy and its various manifestations – most notably in terms of gender based violence and femicide.

He noted that as most of the country was under lockdown, many women and children unfortunately found themselves trapped without reprieve in homes with their abusers.

“We remain committed to dealing with this scourge which we have since dubbed ‘the second pandemic.’ It is this reason that we now have the National Strategic Plan against Gender-Based Violence and have instructed all government departments and state entities to institute strategic measures to tackle this scourge,” he said on Thursday.

The Minister acknowledged that government alone will not succeed in eliminating this scourge since it is rife in private spaces meaning that closer cooperation of communities and families with law enforcement agencies is absolutely critical.

“Too often the perpetrators of gender-based violence are those known by the victims. This calls for joint efforts by all in ensuring that women and children begin to enjoy safer spaces and are guaranteed the same personal freedoms and safety as their male counterparts.”

Mthethwa has made a special appeal to state agencies and civil society groups to intensify engagements with men and boys so that they become an integral part of the struggle against gender-based violence.

“It is about time that men and young boys shoulder the responsibility for ending gender-based violence and femicide.” he said.