Racism and intolerance, the abuse of women and girls and the absence of common decency are markers of a society that has strayed from its founding values.
These were the words of President Cyril Ramaphosa as he addressed an interfaith meeting attended by religious leaders from a broad range of denominations and African traditional religion at the CSIR International Convention Centre on Wednesday.
The meeting, convened by the President and supported by the Department of Social Development, seeks to develop a values-based initiative to engender social cohesion, nation-building and societal renewal.
Interfaith leaders gathered at the meeting expressed their belief and support to the positive framing of South Africa’s national character, which they say is at the heart of South Africa’s growth and renewal.
Addressing socio-economic ills such as unemployment, inequality, gender-based violence, crime and lawlessness and violence against foreign nationals will form the core of the initiative.
Speaking to religious leaders cloaked in their various regalia, President Ramaphosa thanked the leaders for their support and urged them to lend a hand in rejuvenating the social fabric of the country.
“In being here today, you have responded to the call from your government to join us to bring healing to our nation.
“Let us forge ahead in the spirit of partnership and mutual understanding, for we share a common responsibility and a common goal: to realise a better South Africa for ourselves, for our children, and for the children of tomorrow,” said the President.
With concerns raised about the declaration during the meeting, the President, together with interfaith leaders, agreed to sign a statement of intent as opposed to a declaration.
This will allow the parties to rework the declaration before signing.
Once reworked, the President, together with interfaith leaders, will in six months’ time officially sign the declaration titled ‘The Presidential Declaration for Societal Renewal’.
The declaration will be championed by the President of the Republic and led by the interfaith community. It will also be allocated the resources to implement the National Strategic Plan, in accordance with the Public Finance Management Act.
The newly signed declaration will be translated into a National Strategic Plan with objectives, outcomes, responsible persons and timeframes.
Government will monitor the implementation of the National Strategic Plan on a quarterly basis. - SAnews.gov.za