Debate on the State of the Nation Address by Minister Nathi Mthethwa, National Assembly, Cape Town

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17 Feb 2015

Madam Speaker

His Excellency, President JG Zuma

Hon. Deputy President, C Ramaphosa

Ministers and Deputy Ministers

Premiers Present

Honourable Members

Members of the Media

During the State of the Nation Address the President said the following about the youth, “Our youth is our future and their success fills us with immense pride”.   President here is another South African collaborating with an Indian artist in the personality of Mr Wouter Kellerman and Ricky Kej who won a Grammy Award in the New Age Category.

It is with great joy and happiness that we congratulate the pair for winning this Grammy Award. The Album titled Winds of Samsara, is inspired by the Spirit of former President Mandela and Mahatma Gandhi. Both leaders shared a common vision of peace, love and prosperity for humanity. 

The Constitution.

We are working with the Department of Justice and Correctional Services in Promoting the bill of responsibility, constitutional values and national symbols in schools and society, we encourage the reciting and understanding of the preamble of the Constitution. This is done to ensure that our children grow up with positive values and love for their country and its people.

We should start identifying projects in our schools and society that give life to these values.

National Symbols.

On National symbols the President highlighted the following:

“We are already inculcating a new national identity through promoting national symbols such as the national flag, the national anthem and the preamble of the Constitution in every school”.

Prior to 1994, there was no nation, since the democratic breakthrough we have embarked on a process of nation building. These symbols are at the core of being a nation.

These tangible and esoteric features of our nationhood begin with the appreciation and understanding of the national symbols that define us.  These range from our flag, our national anthem, our national days, the coat of arms and national orders, to the animals and the plants which the country holds dear. Language is the bedrock of culture, hence we must take deliberate action to keep our indigenous languages alive.

During the celebration of Heritage Day in September 2014, we publicly launched a book called Passport of Patriotism in the North West, and this important booklet is intended to deepen awareness and consciousness of the nation on national symbols.

National Flag.

Together with the Department of Basic Education, this year will see a mass rollout of flags to schools as part of the Flag in Every School campaign. Over 15 000 flags have already been hoisted in schools across the country. 

In the second phase of this campaign, Government will also roll out African Union Flags, AU Anthem and Agenda 2063 document in every schools, to cement our oneness with our Continent.

Emphasising this point the President echoed the following words,

“From this year, schools must also practise the African Union anthem, in preparation for the celebration of Africa Month in May, as we implement the African Union decision in this regard”.

From the month of May onwards every government building must hoist African Union Flag alongside our national flag.

Africa Month.

The Month of May will be designated as Africa Month, during which time we will call on South Africans to embrace in patriotic libation with our compatriots across mother-Africa, and the Diaspora.  The clarion call during this month-long celebration of our Africanness will be - “WE ARE AFRICA – opening the doors of learning and culture from Cape to Cairo”. 

During Africa Month we will feature various genres of the arts, culture and heritage. The Africa Month festivities hosted with the Department of International Relations and Cooperation, will give life to the AU 2063 vision of African Cultural renaissance, which aims to propel Africa's development and integration. This gift of a common ancestry and shared heritage is the fodder that will see us, as the African Continent, accelerating the restoration of our glory to become a true global industrial giant.

Unite for Mandela campaign.

For its part, Government is a playing leading role in uniting our people across all divides of race, colour and creed. Together with the Department of Sport and Recreation, in November last year, we hosted a programme under the theme Unite for Mandela, Generation 2.0, which was a resounding success.

In this campaign South Africans participated in sport and cultural activities such as cycling, walking, running, fashion showcase and the performing arts, in particular poetry, music and others.

This year, the campaign should be expanded across the country.

Apartheid spatial patterns mean limited opportunity for sharing of space across race and class and thus there is still limited interaction across race.

The social, psychological and geographic elements of apartheid continue to shape the lives and outlook of many South Africans, even though apartheid no longer exists on the statute books.

In December 2014, on Reconciliation Day, we continued with the journey to a reconciled society with the opening of a bridge as a symbol of uniting AmaZulu and Voortrekkers who fought in eNcome in 1838. Speaking on that occasion President Zuma had this to say,

“It is a huge significance that both the Zulu and Afrikaner people have come here today to mark this important historical day together, instead of commemorating the day on the opposite side of the Ncome River.

“Both Groups have crossed the river and crossed the bridge in the literal and figurative senses, which demonstrates that reconciliation is possible if both sides make an effort”.

We believe this is important because reconciliation does not mean forgetting or trying to bury the painful history of conflict. It means that while we remember the pain of the past, we will not allow it to stop us from building a better tomorrow. Indeed, if you want to go far, go together.

The long walk to nationhood begins with the smallest steps. When we begin to learn one another’s languages, to tolerate each other’s cultures and religion, to listen to each other’s fears and aspirations, to understand our pains and our dreams, that way we begin to find the Mandela within us.  

While our economy will continue to build bridges through concrete and mortar, as people we must build bridges of human compassion and solidarity that shall outlive time itself, through the sinews in our hearts. 

Our Heritage.

The President spoke at length about repatriation of the National liberation heroes, Moses Kotane and JB Marks to be reburied in South Africa in March. His excellency went on to express appreciation to the government and people of the Russian Federation for looking after the mortal remains of our heroes with dignity for so many decades.

We have already begun the process to facilitate the repatriations of the mortal remains of these struggle stalwarts in collaboration with the Minister in the Presidency, Departments of Defence and Military Veterans, Public Works, International Relations and the North West Provincial Government. As the nation is aware, these great patriots can rightly be considered the founding fathers of the liberation struggle who inspired the likes of Nelson Mandela, Oliver Tambo and Walter Sisulu, among others, to become the selfless leaders that they turned out to be in life. We want as well to express our appreciation to the President for according the reburials of these outstanding patriots as Official funerals.

We will continue to build inclusive heritage over the next five years through building imposing monuments and other symbols that honour the heroes of the struggle that delivered the freedom and democracy we enjoy today.

Work is underway, on many seminal legacy projects which include amongst others the following:  

·       Discussions are underway on the National Liberation Heritage route with provinces.

·       Similarly, preparations with the Metro of Tshwane and Gauteng Provincial Government are advanced in commencing with the building of the Heroes Acre in Tshwane as a national monument in honor of the triumph of the people against colonialism and apartheid.

More recently, the mortal remains of celebrated and iconic author, Ndazana Nathaniel (Nat) Nakasa, returned to the land of his forefathers.

As a tribute to Nat Nakasa and the countless literary stalwarts of our nation, including the recently departed and eminent author, Andre Brink, the Government will promote the culture of lifelong learning and reading. We are committed to working towards improving access to information and opening the doors of learning, reading and writing to all. To this extent we need as well to appreciate the efforts of the Deputy President for his passion in encouraging the youth to read. Last week on Wednesday, 11 February, the Deputy President launched a Book Club in Harare Township in Khayelitsha.

National Development Plan.

Madam Speaker and Madame Chairperson, We recognise that throughout the march of human history, the nations that have risen to the throne of global affairs are those that are united in common purpose, inspired by the celebration of a shared cultural heritage and a vision to be counted among the greatest in all spheres of human endeavor. That is the greatness that we shall seek to inspire, to build and to celebrate through the creative arts. That is the South Africa that we seek. Her promise is the pulse that holds us together as a nation.

One of the pillars of Government’s work, as defined in the National Development Plan, is Nation Building and Social Cohesion, tenets which are at the heart of the quest for a true democratic, non-racial, non-sexist and prosperous society. In the words of our nation’s founding father, President Nelson Mandela, nation-building, social-cohesion and reconciliation are “a spiritual process which requires more than just a legal framework.  It has to happen in the hearts and minds of people”.  

Madam Speaker, it is an abiding aspiration of the overwhelming majority of South Africans that by 2030, our people “will be more conscious of the things they have in common than their differences. Their lived experiences will progressively undermine and cut across the divisions of race, gender, disability, space and class. The nation will be more accepting of peoples’ multiple identities”.

As we enter the second phase of our transition from apartheid to a national democratic society, we have to embark on radical socio-economic transformation to push back the resilient fault-lines of poverty, inequality and unemployment.

The new society cannot emerge without a new arts, culture and heritage. But to create it, the society must feel the world in a new way.

We must continue to build understanding, tolerance and reconciliation, and together fight racism, tribalism, Afrophobia, xenophobia, homophobia and all related intolerances.

Moral Regeneration Movement.

To this end we need to invoke the Moral Regeneration Movement charter of positive values. These values entails the following amongst others;

·       Generating a moral vision for South Africa by defining what constitutes morality and rightful conduct, thus laying the foundation for commitment.

·       Restoring and anchoring values enshrined in the Constitution, including respect for human rights and accepting accountability for one's being and actions.

·       Respect human dignity and equality

·       Improve material well-being and economic justice

The Department of Arts and Culture as the custodian of the historic mission of nation building and social cohesion will continue to intensify the work of mobilising our communities to embrace and to celebrate our shared heritage and common destiny.

And so our call today is for South Africans to “find the Mandela within”, because his spirit resides in each and every one of us.  His long walk is the embodiment of the African proverb which teaches us that “if you want to go far, go together”.

When these bridges of the heart are built, we will begin to heal and free our society from the malignant cancer of racism, xenophobia, Afrophobia, tribalism and cultural chauvinism, because that way we shall have found the Mandela within.  

The spiritual process about which Madiba speaks must include the consensus that our prosperity must be driven by the quest for inclusive economic growth. It is a consciousness born of the acceptance that our economy truly belongs to all South Africans, black and white. The successes of nation building and social cohesion depend on changing the material conditions of all South Africans for the better.  In this quest we are informed by the precepts of our country's Constitution, including the Bill of Rights, which recognise that attached to individual freedom is individual responsibility, and attached to collective freedom is collective responsibility. These principles and values are borrowed from the wisdom and magnanimity of the Freedom Charter, a timeless monument of courage, nationhood and justice which was authored by all our people, black and white. 

We look forward to the fruition of the Mzansi Golden Economy, a flagship programme of the department, through which Government intends to harness and grow national economic prosperity through the creative industries. In reinforcing Arts, Culture and Heritage as an economic growth sector, Government will maximise skills development for excellence and high performance, driving investment and large-scale interventions aimed at optimising growth and the employment potential of the sector.

Creative Industries federation.

To protect the rights of artists and creative workers not to fall prey to unscrupulous individuals in the industry. Work is at the advance stage towards the formation of the Cultural and Creative Industries Federation of South Africa (CCIFSA), the launch is planned for March 2015.

At the heart of these pursuits must be the recognition that to go far, we must go together. On that journey, I urge us all to find the Mandela within our hearts.

Thank you.