Minister Mashatile on the occasion of the debate on Budget Vote

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30 May 2012

Honourable Speaker and Deputy Speaker
The President of the Republic of South Africa, President Jacob Zuma
Deputy President Kgalema Mothlante
Ministers and Deputy Ministers
Honourable Members
The people of South Africa

I am humbled by the opportunity to participate in this year’s debate on the Budget Vote of the Presidency.

Honourable Members, tomorrow marks 102 years since the formation of the Union of South Africa in 1910.

The formation of the Union of South Africa was the beginning of the institutionalization of racial and ethnic divisions in our country.

It also sought to take away the dignity of Africans in particular and Black people in general and entrench white domination.

In response, African people came together in 1912 and formed the African National Native Congress (ANNC) later to be known as the African National Congress (ANC).

Rallying towards the formation of the ANNC, Pixley ka Isaka Seme called on Africans to forget their differences of the past and unite together in one national organization.

In this regard he said; “We are one people, these divisions, these jealousies are the cause of all our woes today.”

Since then the ANC spearheaded the struggle to bring about a non-racial, non-sexist and democratic South Africa.

In the course of this struggle the ANC and other liberation movements always upheld the ideal of one country, one democratic state and a non-racial destiny for all who live in it; black and white.  

It is through these selfless struggles, dating back more than a hundred years, that today we are sitting in this democratic parliament.

Today, Honourable Speaker, South Africans are working together to build a National Democratic Society.

Honourable Speaker, in the past two weeks there have been heightened tensions among South Africans about what is wrong and what is right.

This tension brought about by the art work; The Spear, has broken the reality that ours is a society that requires great effort towards healing, reconciliation and nation building.

Honourable Speaker I am happy that this matter is being resolved.

It is quite clear that more dialogue is required if we are to build a socially inclusive society.

Honourable Members, there are very loud voices out there that seem to suggest that the ruling party has been bullying others and therefore denying them their right to freedom of expression.

This perception is wrong!

Throughout its life the ANC has fought for the rights of all South Africans, to practice their culture, religion and beliefs.

The ANC has fought for freedom of the press and has done away with censorship and banning orders.

Those who argue for freedom of expression, which we support as the ruling party, must equally appreciate the rights of other South Africans to dignity as guaranteed in our constitution.

Honourable Speaker, as South Africans we need to find the correct balance between freedom of expression and the right to dignity.

In July this year, President Zuma will address a national Summit on Social Cohesion and nation building.

This summit which will be held in Kliptown, the birthplace of the Freedom Charter, will afford us as South Africans an opportunity to once more asses how far we have travelled in building a united, non-racial, non-sexist, democratic and prosperous society.

The overriding theme of our discussions on social cohesion and nation building is that: South Africa belongs to all who live in it; black and white.

We are doing this guided also by the preamble to our constitution which declares that;

 “We the people of South Africa, recognize the injustices of our past…believe that South Africa belongs to all who live in it, united in our diversity”

As a build up to the Summit, we are mobilizing the nation to engage with the question: what does it mean to be a South African?

 

In his State of the Nation Address in 2009, President Zuma made a call that we must embark in a national dialogue on the kind of society we seek to build.

This year the President announced a number of heritage legacy projects to honour the heroes and heroines of our struggle for national liberation.

As a nation, we must work together to erect new symbols of a democratic society that will have a positive meaning to all of us.

Honourable Members, as we build new symbols of democracy, monuments and museums we must continue to address the challenges of poverty, unemployment and underdevelopment.

As we speak, we are currently embarking on projects that will assist, to revitalize local economies and provide much needed job opportunities.

Through our Mzansi Golden Economy Strategy, we estimate that more than 150 000 work opportunities will be created over the next five years.    

We commend President Zuma for having put issues of social cohesion, nation building and the arts, culture and heritage on top of the government agenda.

Honourable Members let us work together to encourage tolerance in our country and build a sense of common nationhood!

Let us continue to be guided by the motto on our Coat of Arms which we must respect at all times; “!ke e:/xarra //ke; which means diverse people unite.

Let us continue to entrench the values enshrined in our Constitution and nation building ethos based on the progressive values of Ubuntu that teach us that;
Motho, ke motho ka batho!
umuntu umuntu  nagbantu!
Munhu I munhu tani hi vanwani!
Muthu ndi muthu nga vhanwe!
’n mens is ’n mens deur ander mense!
I am because you are.  

This we must do to give meaning to the words of the founding fathers of democratic nation, former President Nelson Mandela, who said;

“For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhance the freedom of others”

Thank you!

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