Spruce up the country in honour of Madiba

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

South Africa has seen a myriad of protests by communities particularly against municipalities. Some were dubbed service delivery protests for one reason or the other. President Jacob Zuma during his State of the Nation Address outlined a number of measures to address challenges in various muncipalities. These measures have put a sharp focus on municipalities.

One of these interventions is the exciting campaign to clean municipalities. The President also used the opportunity to remind the country of the need for all South Africans to devote 67 minutes of their time to assist in community work on Mandela Day - 18 July.

He said this year's theme was on cleaning up South Africa. “All South Africans should dedicate at least 67 minutes on the 18th of July to clean South Africa, which is our theme for this year. Let us begin planning for a major clean-up of our cities, towns, townships, villages, schools and beautify every part of our country," he stated.

July 18 was declared the Nelson Mandela International Day by the United Nations in recognition of former President Mandela’s contribution “to the struggle for democracy internationally and the promotion of a culture of peace throughout the world”. In South Africa however we have the opportunity to celebrate Nelson Mandela’s life for the duration of July; it has over the years become known as Mandela Month.

Government encourages all South Africans to heed the President’s call to do their part by dedicating 67 minutes of their time to clean up the country. Let us all take to the streets and pick up litter that has been dumped in our communities and cities. This programme of action, as President Zuma pointed out, is aimed at making South Africa a better place for all.

We should also commit to taking care of our environment by continually cleaning up the areas where we live. All of us can beautify our country by participating in major clean-ups around our cities, towns, townships, villages and schools. Litter has a simple solution, it belongs in a bin. South Africa could be litter-free if all 52-million of us placed our litter where it should be.

However, this month is also an opportune time for each and every South African to choose how best they want to remember and celebrate Madiba’s life. He taught us many things including reaching out to the needy and in our own unique ways we can ensure that his legacy and vision continues. All South Africans should do their part, regardless of how small the action is with the aim of changing the country for the better - just as our former President did.   

This year’s Mandela Month takes place against the backdrop of South Africa celebrating 20 Years of Freedom. It provides us with the chance to work together towards building on the gains we have made in eliminating social ills within our communities, especially the triple challenge of poverty, unemployment and inequality.

Let us work together with the government in implementing new measures aimed at faster economic growth and job creation over the next five years as the President spelt out.

It is incumbent on all of us to celebrate Madiba’s legacy and appreciate the strides we have made over the past twenty years. The former President not only inspired South Africans to take action to change their communities, but also the rest of the world. He spear-headed the liberation struggle against the apartheid regime and helped steer the country towards freedom and democracy. Nelson Mandela was the epitome of reconciliation – after 27 years of political imprisonment he led South Africa into a peaceful transition from apartheid into democracy.

It is now six months since former President Mandela died and we will steadfastly continue on the road he set us on and to take forward his ideal “of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities”. As we remember and pay tribute to Madiba over this month, let us reaffirm our commitment to take responsibility in carrying forward the ethos and values he stood for.

We have no choice but to heed to his call to action as he stated: "It is in your hands to create a better world for all who live in it”. Our country will only be clean and move forward if people like you and me get involved and we all play our part.

 Phumla Williams is Acting CEO of the Government Communication and Information System (GCIS)

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