Address by the Minister Paul Mashatile on the occasion of the president’s award youth empowerment programme lunch: British High Commission, Cape Town

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11 Oct 2013

Programme Director

His Royal Highness, The Earl of Wessex and Her Royal
Highness, The Countess of Wessex and your esteemed delegation

Mr John May, the Secretary General of the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award

Mr Edwin Kimani, the Regional Director of the International Award in Africa

Mr Warren Clewlow, the Chairman of The President’s Award for Youth Empowerment

Ms Rochelle Josiah, Trustee of The President’s Award for Youth Empowerment

Mr Martin Scholtz, the CEO of The President’s Award for Youth Empowerment

Ms Judith Macgregor, the British High Commissioner Designate

Mr Christopher Trott, the British Consul General
Mr Wayne Harper from the British Council

Our Social Cohesion Advocates

Ladies and Gentlemen:

Let me begin by, once more, welcoming their Royal Highnesses as well as their esteemed delegation to South Africa.

I trust that since you arrived in our country you have been able to experience the warmth and hospitality that South Africans are known for.

This warmth and hospitality of our people draws its origins from the values of Ubuntu; that teach us that I am because you are.

It is these values that are the centre of the new and inclusive society that we as South Africans are building.

Let me also take this opportunity to thank the President’s Award Youth Empowerment Programme for inviting me to this discussion on the important subject of social cohesion and nation building in our country.

This discussion is important because it involves young people, upon whose shoulders the future of our country lies.

It is important for young people to get involved in efforts to build an inclusive society, so that the future they will inherit is better than our past and our present.

It is in recognition of this reality that our Social Cohesion Advocates who are the embodiment of the values enshrined in our Constitution and
have played an important role in advancing national unity, will include young people.

A total of fifty six South Africans, from various sectors of our society, have been appointed as Social Cohesion Advocates.

They include representatives of business, labor, civil society and government as well as eminent South Africans such as Dr. Frene Ginwala, Ntate Elias Motswaledi, and Mme Sophie De Bryn.

Programme Director since 1994, South Africa has made massive progress in building the kind of society envisaged in our constitution.

As we always say the South Africa of today is a far better place than it was before our liberation in 1994.

In particular we are making progress in building an inclusive society based on equality, human dignity and freedom for all.

According to the Development Indicators 2012 Report, released by government, the percentage of people who take pride in being South African has increased and last year stood at eighty eight percent.

The hosting of a successful 2010 FIFA World Cup contributed significantly to this increase in national pride.

Equally, despite the persistent global economic and financial crisis, over fifty percent of South Africans are confident in a happy future for all races.

However, there is an indication that a lot of work still needs to be done to build an inclusive society. According to the Report, public perceptions about race relations averaged a low thirty nine percent in 2012.

In addition over the years the number of people who identify themselves as South African has remained constant at around fifty percent.

To address some of these challenges towards building an inclusive society, Cabinet has decided to include social cohesion and nation building as a separate and dedicated key performance area of government.

This area of performance is now one of government’s outcomes and will from now on be measured, monitored and evaluated on a continuous basis.

The Minister of Arts and Culture is the lead Minister responsible for this outcome.

This, Programme Director, is an indication of the seriousness with which our government takes the issues of nation building and social cohesion.

It is also an acknowledgement that a lot more still needs to be done to achieve the goal of an inclusive society.

Part of what we need to do to build an inclusive society is to continue to dialogue among ourselves as South Africans.

We must do this in order to reach out to one another, to address each-others fears and concerns and together to craft an inclusive and prosperous future.

Indeed we must continue to dialogue among ourselves, because it is only through dialogue that we can realize that what unites us far outweighs that which divides us; that we are one people and that our destiny is linked.

It is for this reason, and in line with the Resolutions of our National Summit on Social Cohesion, that as the Department of Arts and Culture we have convened one hundred and ten community conversations throughout the country.

These community conversations have proven to be useful platforms for communities to identify and work together towards eliminating obstacles that hinder social inclusion in their communities.

We are delighted that all spheres of government are now implementing all twelve resolutions of the National Summit on Social Cohesion and Nation Building.

These include building a society based on Ubuntu and human solidarity, promoting social justice, ensuring the rule of law, building moral communities and implementing the National Development Plan Vision 2030.

Our programme to promote social cohesion and nation building and the work done by our Social Cohesion Advocates is at the center of our build-up activities towards the historic milestone of the twentieth anniversary of our liberation, next year in 2014.

Part of our build-up activities include honoring unsung heroes who continue to contribute to the goal of promoting social cohesion and nation building.

They also include a public participation process to identify twenty major achievements since 1994 that we as South Africans collectively own.

Last month, working together with Proudly South African, Brand South Africa and Lead SA, we launched the Freedom Fridays Campaign.

Through this campaign we seek to bring back the spirit of togetherness that was so prevalent during our hosting of the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

As part of this campaign we are calling on South Africans to wear and display, every Friday, anything that demonstrates their pride in being South African.
We are doing all of these things to give practical meaning to the pre-amble of our constitution which urges us, among others, to heal the divisions of the past and establish a society based on democratic values, social justice and fundamental human rights.

I trust that from this conversation more and more young people will join us as we build this great nation.

I also take this opportunity to wish the President’s Award for Youth Empowerment Programme well, as you mark thirty years of active youth empowerment.

We are truly encouraged by the good work you are doing.

Let the conversation begin.

Thank you.