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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 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

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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:

  1. 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”.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Advances have been made to entrench and consolidate human rights and restore the human dignity of all South Africans.
  5. 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

•          Ubuntu

•          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.[1]

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.

[1]Moral Regeneration Movement, The Charter of Positive Values, 29 July 2008