Social cohesion to underpin all spheres of govt

Tuesday, November 27, 2012
Nthambeleni Gabara

Pretoria - Government will work hard to ensure that social cohesion and nation building underpin all national, provincial and local government strategic priorities, says President Jacob Zuma.

The President made the announcement after the official handing over of the Social Cohesion Report and Declaration from Arts and Culture Minister Paul Mashatile at Sefako Makgatho Presidential Guest House in Pretoria on Tuesday. 

"Working together we can create a proud and caring South Africa. Working together, we will heal the divisions of the past and establish a society based on democratic values, social justice and fundamental human rights," he said. 

The country held the Social Cohesion Summit in July at the Walter Sisulu Square of Dedication in Kliptown Soweto, the birth place of the Freedom Charter which is the basis of the country's democratic Constitution. 

The summit was an opportunity for South Africans to dialogue among one another about their shared values, aspirations and vision of a united South African nation.

South Africa, like many African countries, emerged from an oppressive, divisive and colonial system which created a fragmented society. 

Zuma said the summit was correctly not based on romantic notions of unity while glossing over problems, adding that the nation is proud of the achievements it had scored in burying apartheid and colonialism as well as building a new society.

However, he said the challenges of poverty, unemployment, homelessness, landlessness, and the divisions around race, class and gender still stand in the way of achieving a socially cohesive and united society.

President Zuma said he believed that none of these challenges were insurmountable, if South Africans work together as different members of society and leaders of their respective communities.

"I would therefore like, on behalf of government, to recommit ourselves to mobilising society in its entirety, to work together to build a caring and proud nation, based on shared values and a vision outlined in the Constitution, and which are embodied in the Social Cohesion report and declaration.

"We further commit government to work towards the implementation of the recommendations of the National Development Plan as a long term vision which should serve as a basis for partnerships across society to attain the South Africa of our dreams, as eloquently articulated in the Constitution," he said. 

Zuma said government will lead the process of initiating further social cohesion interactions and ensuring the implementation of the commitments contained in the Summit Declaration.

"This report and declaration will serve as a guide as we work together across sectors, to attain the ideals outlined in the Constitution of the Republic. 

"Government will lead the process of initiating further interactions and ensuring the implementation of the commitments contained in the Summit Declaration," he said. 

Arts and Culture Minister Paul Mashatile said the social cohesion report is characterised with what is to be done, how do we built a social cohesion nation as well as ensuring how nation building becomes a reality. 

"This is not a government social cohesion report, but a societal programme that needs to be driven by all of us," he said, adding that there would be more social cohesion summits at both the provincial and district levels. -