Thank you very
much, Deputy Speaker. Enkosi [Thank you] Tata. It is fitting that as we have this debate of national importance, we have just started Heritage month, having just concluded women's month. Of course, we did not conclude women's month on a high note, having had several cases of femicide, gender- based violence, as well as incidents of general violence and criminality, including those affecting some foreign nationals.
We wish to restate that these were mostly acts of criminality, irrespective of the nationalities of those involved. In fact, the majority of those who died during this period were South African nationals, thus debunking the myth that foreign nationals were specifically targeted. Of the 12 people who died, two were foreign nationals while 10 were South Africans. Crime
is crime. It does not matter who commits it; be it a South African or a foreign national.
The ANC was founded on the struggles for democracy and freedom, and in that regard adopted the Freedom Charter as a culmination of the struggles of our people. The Freedom Charter's provisions found place in our current Constitution and body politic.
The national democratic society we seek to build is one where the people shall govern. The people are indeed governing, as witnessed by the electoral mandate we have been able to garner over the six parliamentary sessions, including the current Parliament. In that regard, we continue to ensure that it is not only at the national level but also in provinces and at local government.
The national democratic society we envisage is one where there is gender equality and wherein we declared for all to know that, "South Africa belongs to all who live in it, black and white and that no government can justly claim authority unless it is based on the will of all the people".
It is for this reason that in whatever we do there is an extensive process to involve our people in the policy making and legislative process without fail, and have enshrined that into law. This is the type of national democratic society we are constructing, even 25 years down the line. Therefore, if we look at virtually all the clauses of the Freedom Charter, we find all of them embodied in our country's body politic.
In the light of the recent incidents of violence and criminality in our country, including those affecting foreign nationals, we stand here to vehemently reiterate that there shall be peace and friendship. This is underscored with the provision that South Africa shall be an independent state which respects the rights and sovereignty of all nations. In this regard, we have claimed our rightful place amongst the community of nations. It is by no mistake that we have bilateral relations with all countries on our continent and continue to play an active role in the Southern African Development Community, SADC, region and the AU, of which we will take chairship in 2020, and the UN General Assembly as well as the Security Council we are currently members of, whose chairship we will take up in October 2019.
Our forebears declared that these freedoms we will fight for side by side throughout our lives until we have won our liberty. We have won our liberty and continue to deepen the national democratic society.
On the qualities that bring about nation-building, we must continue to acknowledge that we've made good progress in building social cohesion and promoting a single, national identity. However, more work needs to be done to deepen this, especially as we are having an increasingly younger population in our country.
The question we need to ask is what are the values and principles we need to put out to all South Africans? It is not South African to hate thy neighbour when we have lived side by side, even in the darkest of days at the height of the apartheid regime. What we do need to do is to continue the fight against inequality in our society and commit to working together to implement the National Development Plan.
The reality is that when we took over in 1994 we inherited a divided nation with high levels of poverty and inequitable income distribution. Even as we have removed formal barriers to formal education and access to the formal labour market participation, we still remain with high levels of unemployment.
Our nation-building includes, but is not limited to, forging a common identity, whilst at the same time recognising and respecting a diverse, ethnic, racial and multicultural nation. It is therefore no mistake that our country's coat of arms is underpinned by unity in diversity, which symbolises knowledge, judgement, will power, the ability of reflection and the promise of rebirth.
In the same regard of nation-building, we have a firmly established national territory, a new Constitution and new national symbols, including a flag, national anthem and coat of arms. All of these have played a key role in the creation of an overarching national identity. Therefore, in a country that values its diversity, these symbols play a stronger role in
forging an overarching national identity than in a country with a single cultural, religious and ethnic identity.
Members will remember that when we established the Moral Regeneration Movement, MRM, we had aimed to provide a positive influence to our communities, starting at family level. This is because we sought to breach the moral gap manifesting through social ills such as violence, the murder of women and children and the abuse of vulnerable people.
Ethics and morals underpin what a country should be, taking into account the provisions of the Bill of Rights and recognising the need for diversity. This is against the background of conflict for resources in our communities. This places a responsibility on us to deepen engagements with our communities so as to encourage morality and the integrity we need to have as a nation. This means that we need to have an integrated approach involving all stakeholders in our communities, especially local authorities as well as religious communities.
There have been many efforts at moral regeneration and programmes. The microcosm of moral regeneration is the family and extends to the immediate community. We need to resuscitate the voice of the MRM so as to make efforts at addressing some of the social ills affecting our communities.
The linkages with morality and integrity are that of ethics and what is expected of us to behave in an ethical manner, even when no-one is looking. Part of moral regeneration is also about how we deal with matters of diversity amongst our people. This also means that there is a need for deepened interaction across race, class and nationality. Part of this would be to further educate our people, not only about national diversity but also transnational diversity and recognising all of humanity, irrespective of their origins. In this regard, we need to target international events as a method of social cohesion. Typically, this would be the observance of Africa Day, even designating Africa month; promoting the country as a destination of choice; and promoting social cohesion at schools and institutions of learning in general, targeting the youth. There is a general need for promoting an active citizenry, and promoting a culture
of tolerance and access to opportunities. This must be done not only in urban areas but also in our rural communities.