Social Cohesion and Nation-Building
Defining social cohesion
The department defines social cohesion as the degree of social integration and inclusion in communities and society at large, and the extent to which mutual solidarity finds expression among individuals and communities.
In terms of this definition, a community or society is cohesive to the extent that the inequalities, exclusions and disparities based on ethnicity, gender, class, nationality, age, disability or any other distinctions which engender divisions distrust and conflict are reduced and/or eliminated in a planned and sustained manner - this with community members and citizens as active participants, working together for the attainment of shared goals, designed and agreed upon to improve the living conditions for all.
Nation-building is the process whereby a society with diverse origins, histories, languages, cultures and religions come together within the boundaries of a sovereign state with a unified constitutional and legal dispensation, a national public education system, an integrated national economy, shared symbols and values, as equals, to work towards eradicating the divisions and injustices of the past; to foster unity; and promote a countrywide conscious sense of being proudly South African, committed to the country and open to the continent and the world.
Nation-building in this sense, and in the context of South Africa, cannot be the perpetuation of hierarchies of the past, based on pre-given or ethnically engineered and imposed divisions of people rooted in prejudice, discrimination and exclusion. It calls for something else; that is, a rethinking, in South African terms, of what social cohesion, linked to nation-building, should be. It should, no doubt and in essence, be directed towards the practical actualisation of democracy in South Africa.
Accordingly, a nation is conceived as a social formation based on the unity and equality of its members consisting of the following shared and recognised attributes:
Shared Origin and history, internationally recognised territory, unitary sovereign state, single judicial system, Single public education system, Nationally recognised languages, Nationally recognised cultures, Nationally recognised religions, shared values, shared symbols, and shared national consciousness.
In South Africa, the diverse cultures, languages and religions should not be seen as impediments to national unity given the statutory equality accorded to all citizens.
BACKGROUND, PURPOSE AND THE DECLARATION OF THE NATIONAL SUMMIT ON SOCIAL COHESION
BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE OF THE SUMMIT
The National Summit on Social Cohesion was held on 4-5 July 2012 at Walter Sisulu Square of Dedication, Kliptown, Soweto to:
· Review progress made in creating a caring and proud South African society.
· Provide a platform to discuss the National Strategy for Developing and Inclusive South African society.
· Respond to the President’s call for a national dialogue.
· Identify constraints that limit our advance towards a more inclusive citizenry.
· Produce a declaration and a programme of action.
The theme of the summit was: “Working together to create a caring and a proud society”.
THE SUMMIT COMMISSIONS
The five commissions of the Social Cohesion Summit discussed the following themes and recommendations:
1.Commission: Economic Inequality
• Material well- being of the citizens
• Encourage agency
• Clear economic framework
• Turn policy into practical reality
• Strong monitoring and evaluation measures
- Commission: Spatial Divisions
• Legacy of land dispossession.
• Colonial and apartheid geography dominates
• Historical plight of the Khoi-Khoi people
• 15 year backlog on land claim cases.
• Finding balance between black aspirations & white fears.
• Integrated planning across departments & spheres of government.
- Commission: Social Interaction, Cooperation & Solidarity
• Legacy of colonialism & apartheid
• SA currently the most unequal society in the world.
• Khoi San Community not effectively integrated in SA.
• SA Constitution important for the protection of citizen rights.
• Social cohesion adherence to values of human compassion & social solidarity.
• Evidence of narrow nationalism emerging.
• Manage Crime & Fight Corruption.
- Commission: Prejudice & Discrimination
• Social cohesion cannot be legislated or imposed.
• Fight all forms of discrimination – racism, tribalism, sexism & xenophobia are denial of the humanity of others.
• Inherent racist attitudes
• There could be no healing without reconciliation; no reconciliation without justice; & no justice without restitution.
- Commission: National Identity & Unity
• Legacy of colonialism and obstacle to social cohesion.
• Build on the constitutional foundations.
• Rally SA citizens behind Constitutional Values.
• Nation-building an on-going process.
• Policy implementation across all tiers of government spheres
• All Political parties to engage in nation-building.
We, representatives from all sectors of our society, gathered at the Walter Sisulu Square of Dedication, Kliptown, Soweto, on 4 and 5 July 2012 to participate in the National Summit on Social Cohesion and Nation Building, under the theme “Working together to create a caring and proud society.”
We came here representing the diversity of our nation, black and white, women and men, rich and poor, young and old, urban and rural, speaking different languages, with a diversity of beliefs, from many different places, seeking to fulfil the injunction of our Constitution “diverse people unite”.
We came together to renew our commitment, and to mobilise and unify society in our on-going national movement of healing the divisions of our painful past and establishing a society based on democratic values, social justice and fundamental human rights.
Informed by the deliberations of the Summit and inspired by our forebears, who assembled at this square 57 years ago to adopt the Freedom Charter, we hereby declare that:
- Our discussions were informed by our common commitment to the injunction in the Constitution of the Republic South Africa, adopted in 1996, that “South Africa belongs to all who live in it, both black and white, united in our diversity”.
- South Africa is a unitary and sovereign state based on democracy, the rule of law, the pursuit of equal human rights, non-racialism, non-sexism and the equality of all people.
- Our past was based on racial and ethnic divisions devised to systematically exclude the majority of South Africans from full and unhindered participation in all aspects of national life and left deep and persistent social, cultural and economic divisions and inequalities in society.
- Advances have been made to entrench and consolidate human rights and restore the human dignity of all South Africans.
- The following factors make the task of uniting diverse peoples to work together to build a caring and proud society complex and challenging:
• Slow economic growth and transformation, which result in widespread unemployment, poverty, inequality, and exclusion based on race, age and gender.
• Landlessness and homelessness among many South Africans and the persistence of apartheid spatial divisions, which perpetuate patterns of disproportionate land ownership and segregation.
• The burden of disease, in particular HIV/Aids and tuberculosis, which exacts a heavy toll on communities and society at large.
• Uneven access to quality education and training, which deprives young people of the knowledge and skills needed for social and economic development.
• High levels of crime and the abuse of the elderly, women and children, which affect communities and threaten safety and security.
• Gender inequalities in households, the workplace and society, which hinder the advancement of women and gender mainstreaming.
• Racism and xenophobia, which perpetuate divisions and conflict in communities.
• Service delivery failures in local communities, which lead to social instability, disintegration and conflict.
• Perceived and actual corruption in the public and private sectors, which erode confidence and trust.
This Summit recognises that social cohesion depends to a large measure on our ability as a society to address these challenges. On the other hand, as a society we need to cohere around a vision of a better South Africa, which we cannot attain if we do not work together. Consequently, to address these challenges effectively, we the delegates resolve:
1. To mobilise society in its entirety to work together to build a caring and proud society based on shared values and a vision informed by the following principles:
• Constitutional democracy
• Human rights and equality
• Non-racialism, non-tribalism and non-sexism
• Inclusivity and social justice
• Redress and transformation
• Intercultural and community cooperation
• Social solidarity
• Empowered, fair, inclusive and active citizenship
• Civic responsibility
• Unity in diversity
• National consciousness and identity.
2. To work towards the implementation of the recommendations of the 2030 National Development Plan, as a long-term vision that should serve as a basis for partnerships across society, to attain the South Africa of our dreams, so eloquently articulated in the Constitution.
3. To ensure that social cohesion and nation building underpins all national, provincial and local government strategic priorities, inclusive of integrated economic and social development, education, health, human settlement, land and rural development, safety and security, immigration policies and programmes, arts, culture, language and heritage development and preservation, and technological innovation, research and development.
4. To promote and preserve all indigenous cultures and knowledge.
5. To accelerate change by improving the quality of life of all people, with special attention to the needs of the youth, women and people with disabilities.
6. That the state must continue to build capacity to drive the socio economic agenda in the country, including absorbing young people and women into economic activity, employing professionals, investing in skills required by the economy, and investing in research and development to respond to the demands of the knowledge economy.
7. To continue to fight any forms of discrimination, which are threats to social cohesion and nation building.
8. To respect human dignity and equality, promote freedom, democracy and the rule of law, improve material well-being and economic justice, enhance sound family and community values, uphold honesty, integrity and loyalty, ensure harmony in culture, belief and conscience, show respect and concern for all people, strive for justice, fairness and peaceful co-existence, and protect the environment as contained in the Charter of Positive Values adopted by the Moral Regeneration Movement in 2008.
9. To expand existing national, heritage and other honours and awards to recognise individuals, organisations and communities that contribute significantly to social cohesion and nation building.
10. To develop a nation building project management manual and toolkit for application at all levels and to convene social cohesion and nation building summits at provincial, local and community level within the next 12 months.
11. To convene a national social cohesion report-back and monitoring summit in 2014 when we celebrate 20 years of our freedom and democracy, and thereafter at five-year intervals progress.
12. To develop a detailed plan from the proposals made at this Summit, which will be presented to the President and Cabinet on our behalf by a group of eminent South Africans.
In pursuit of these resolutions, we commit ourselves, and all sectors of society represented at this Summit, to work together to realise the ideals enshrined in our Constitution, and assert that our organisations and institutions will strive to contribute all we can to realise our common national objective to attain a decent and improving quality of life for all, in a society united in its diversity.
We depart from this historic venue united in our commitment to building a nation that is caring and dignified, and has a great sense of humility and mutual respect for one another.
Moral Regeneration Movement, The Charter of Positive Values, 29 July 2008
For the first time in 18 years, a social cohesion strategy was approved by Cabinet on 13 June 2012. Immediately after this the Department of Arts and Culture convened the National Social Cohesion Summit in Kliptown, Soweto on 04 – 05 July 2012. The aim of the summit was to afford citizens and sectors of society to contribute to a practical program to implement the strategic plan.
Significantly, the summit was representative of all key sectors of society ranging from government, the youth, people with disabilities, business labor, cultural and religious groups, political parties and civil society. This culminated in a declaration with the 12 summit resolutions.
Subsequently the DAC developed an Implementation Framework, based on the declaration, which includes mobilization of all sectors of society to help build a caring and proud society. To achieve this, a number of eminent South Africans who epitomize values and principles of a good citizen and, in their lives and work, contributed to the attainment of democracy and freedom were appointed to serve as Advocates for Social Cohesion.
Rationale for the Advocates for Social Cohesion
Social Cohesion Advocates were selected or appointed based on their stature and meaningful role they play in the various sectors of society. They are individuals that have been identified have been identified to be the embodiment of the principles of Social Cohesion and Nation Building.
The Advocates for Social Cohesion have, since the summit, been active in the promotion and advancement of the National Social Cohesion Implementation Framework. Some of them have, in their own right, contributed to the realization of the Summit Declaration.
They have participated in public platforms and other National, Provincial, and Local activities to mainstream Social Cohesion. These include the State of the Nation Address, Freedom Day Celebrations, Arts & Culture Budget Vote, Media Launch of the Celebrations of 20 Years, launch of Freedom Friday and the Unveiling of the Countdown Clock.
Key objective of the Advocates for Social Cohesion Programme
The Freedom charter stated that “South Africa belongs to all who live in it, black and white”. Section 1 of the Constitution declares that it is based on the values of, inter alia, “non-racialism and non-sexism”. Section 9 states the state may not unfairly discriminate indirectly or indirectly on, inter alia, “race, culture, language and birth”.
The Advocates are in the forefront of the development of a philosophy of a new South African Consciousness to promote the creation of a “caring and proud society.”
A cohesive society must give people a strong sense of belonging and ownership of their country. Also, it must be an egalitarian society which espouses social justice in all walks of life, where all have the opportunities to reach their potential as envisaged in our Constitution. Thus the Advocates will play a pivotal role in promoting involvement, participation and contribute of the people to decision-making. Above all, they will promote behaviour and conduct that is aligned to Constitutional values, principles and ideals.
Roles and responsibilities of the Advocates for Social Cohesion
It is envisaged that some of the responsibilities of the Advocates will be among other and not limited to:-
- attend review meetings to gauge the status of social cohesion in provinces and communities
- be represented in the provincial summits and community conversations
- participate in the stakeholder round tables as a build-up to the 2014 National Social Cohesion Report Back Summit.
- Be living embodiment of the principles of Social Cohesion in the campaigns that serve to realize the outcomes of the summit resolutions
- guide and advice on the 2014 National Social Cohesion Report Back Summit.
- participate in all National activities of significance, including National Days and their commemoration and mobilizing society for the 20th Anniversary Celebrations of Democracy and Freedom
- be the voice and face of social cohesion
- play a supportive role in the enactment of all summit resolutions and
- ensure that the social cohesion programme is aligned to the Vision 2030 plan.
The Minister will be responsible and exercise oversight over the programme of the Advocates for Social Cohesion.
The Advocates for Social Cohesion programme is a work in progress. Consultative meetings with the Advocates are on-going. However, there is no doubt that these are ambassadors of the ideals for nation-building that will help realize the ideals of a nonracist, non - sexist society.
Prior to the National Social Cohesion Summit which was held in Kliptown, Soweto, from 4-5 July 2012, the Department had initiated a project on developing a National Strategy on Social Cohesion, which was to form the basis for Summit discussions. In developing the strategy, consultations with the wider South African society had to be done, and their comments and inputs to be added into the document. To gather these comments the department had to conduct a nation-wide campaign, holding community conversations or dialogues. Comments from these community conversations were incorporated into the National Social Cohesion strategy and informed discussions in the National Social Cohesion Summit.
The community conversations are an on-going project. The National Social Cohesion Summit drafted and adopted a twelve (12) point’s declaration which informed the Social Cohesion implementation or operational plan. Inter alia, the declaration resolved that South Africa has, “to convene a national social cohesion report-back and monitoring summit in 2014 when we celebrate 20 years of our freedom and democracy, and thereafter at five-year intervals progress”. This meant that the department had to report back to communities on how to implement the summit resolutions and make inputs for the 2014 National Social Cohesion report back summit.
A nation-building project management manual and toolkit for application at all levels of society is being developed by the Department. This nation-building project management manual and toolkit will assist in creating awareness and encourage people implement the resolutions of the national Social Cohesion Summit. It is meant to provide step-by-step guidelines on how to manage and implement the summit resolutions.
The inclusion of Social Cohesion awards is another project that was determined at the National Social Cohesion Summit. The summit resolved that, the existing national, heritage and other honours and awards be expanded to recognise individuals, organisations and communities that contribute significantly to Social Cohesion and nation-building. The Department, in collaboration with its entity, the National Heritage Council (NHC), has completed the feasibility study of the project. It is envisaged that the awards will be conducted towards the end of 2013.
1. What is the purpose social cohesion strategy?
The purpose of the strategy is not only to outline the government’s long-term plan to nation-building but to provide a framework that will contribute to social cohesion in South Africa.
 See the Department of Arts and Culture’s National Strategy for Developing an Inclusive and a Cohesive South African Society, p-3
2. Vision of the strategy?
The strategy aims to contribute to the creation of a Caring and a Proud society informed by a vision based on constitutional values, ideals and principles that include the following:
Freedom, democracy and justice,
Rights and responsibilities
Equality and inclusion
Shared values and symbols
Unity and diversity
- The strategy responds to the on-going and unfinished national project to address the legacy of colonialism of a special type. It defines the obstacles to social cohesion, including economic inequality, spatial division, prejudice & discrimination, social solidarity and national identity and unity with the purpose to overcome these to build a just society which upholds and embodies the principles and values of an inclusive, non-racial democracy.
Also, it responds to the Electoral Mandate through the Outcome-based approach adopted by cabinet in January 2012.
- The cabinet approved strategy document defines social cohesion as “the degree of social integration and inclusion in communities and society at large, and the extent to which mutual solidarity finds expression itself among individuals and communities.” It must be emphasised that social cohesion is premised on active citizen participation, involvement and contribution towards the common goal of a just and equal society.
- Nation-building is the process whereby a society of people with diverse origins, histories, languages, cultures and religions come together within the boundaries of a sovereign state with a unified constitutional and legal dispensation, a national public education system, an integrated national economy, shared symbols and values, as equals, to work towards eradicating the divisions and injustices of the past; to foster unity; and promote a countrywide conscious sense of being proudly South African, committed to the country and open to the continent and the world.
Social cohesion is generally community-based and thus located at a micro-social level while nation-building is nationally oriented and located at macro-social level. Social cohesion strategy must therefore engage and link up with all the three spheres of public life. In this regard, social cohesion and national unity is a layered and integrated approach.
- The policy environment within which the strategy document on social cohesion is situated involves a set of interrelated and overlapping initiatives at national level to which it has to be aligned for optimal impact. In fact, the convergence rate is 100% with the following policies and their priorities:
- Electoral Mandate 2009-20014
- National Development Plan: Vision 2030
- New Growth Path: 2010-2014
- Industrial Policy Action Plan 2010-2014
Millennium Development Goals: 2000-2015
- There is widespread myth that social cohesion is not only elusive and intangible but cannot be measured. But this is not true because to measure and monitor the impact of social cohesion and nation-building policies and programmes, there are indicators that have been designed and should adhere to basic principles that will include, inequality, exclusion, community participation, alignment to direction of change, resources and local, national and international benchmarks.
Much has been done but there is still great work that lies ahead. The relatively peaceful transition achieved by the democratic breakthrough saw the free and fair election of representatives to all levels of government. This has contributed in a big towards moving towards a non-racial, non-sexist society. Some of the advances that have been made are the following:
- General elections held on schedule and orderly manner that consolidates democracy.
- Constitutional democracy based on the rule of law
- Legislatures at all three levels of government where representation is contested in an unrestricted multi-party system
- Apartheid geography has been abolished together with the physical segregation of the people along racial and ethnic lines.
- An independent and free country made up of diverse people
- Economic opportunity to access resources
- All languages, cultures and religions enjoy constitutional protection
- Single national education system
- Equality of all persons across race, gender and culture
The constitution of South Africa has a direct bearing on social cohesion and nation-building as its preamble declares that, “South Africa belongs to all who live in it, united in our diversity”. It further emphasises the indivisible unity, under the Constitution of the country’s diverse people. The Constitution is a transformative document as it advocates for improvement of the quality of life of its citizens and free the potential of each person.
Constitutional values create a new South African identity, and enables South Africans to overcome its inhuman history and attain a nationality based on equality, freedom and dignity. They further provide normative principles that ensure ease of life, shared by all.
These have been clearly defined and revolve around the following:
- Economic Inequality
- Spatial Division
- Social Interaction Cooperation & Solidarity
- Prejudice & Discrimination
- National Identity & Unity.
Poverty, unemployment, slow economic growth, uneven access to quality education, crime, racism, tribalism, xenophobia and many more not only are projections of the cited impediments but factors that inhibit progress to a socially cohesive South African society.
- Active citizenry are members of society who take charge of their future and are the agents of what they want to happen in their communities. It requires inspirational leadership at all levels and every aspect of life. They should possess the following qualities:
- Empowered – They understand that rights must be exercised with the responsibilities and are not shy to assert these. They have access to accurate, up to date information about government and its activities. Thus the government is obliged to provide information so that citizens can know what they are entitled to.
- Fairness – citizens must not only know the structures and processes that exist but how government processes work, especially their accessibility by women, children, youth and people with disabilities. They play the game by its rules so that everything is predictable and transparent.
- Inclusivity – must not only embrace the constitutional values of equality, dignity and freedom but are willing to include or involve every one irrespective of their position, status, creed or race. Everyone must have a sense of belonging and equal chance to exercise rights.
- Unity in diversity is the motto on the National Coat of Arms that is drawn from the /Xam expression !ke e: /xarra // ke which literally means diverse people unite. It is a call to all citizens to unite in a sense of belonging and pride.
In so far as it speaks directly and in an ancient South African language and culture deeply woven into the fabric of many indigenous languages and cultures, it highlights and celebrates the interconnections of the people, the languages, the cultures and the histories.
The thinking embraces that South Africa has many identities and however all are South African. The National Development Plan (NDP) states that, “being South African has never been promised on the notion of a melting pot that fuses everybody into some amalgam”.
The following steps are widely recommended:
- Mass participation in development of plans and initiatives
- Mobilization of key stakeholders and institutions
- Build national support for strategy and objectives
- Community involvement in planning and implementation
- Build capacity and skills
- Transparency and Accountability
- Fighting nepotism, patronage and corruption