Hon Speaker, hon Chairperson of the NCOP and members of this august House, the NFP fully ascribes to human rights, believing that in many ways it ties up intimately with the concept of ubuntu, widely revered amongst our people as an ancient guiding philosophy for a caring society.
Human Rights are enshrined in the Bill of Rights in our Constitution, which is aligned with the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The Bill of Rights is also informed and shaped by the noble ideals set out in the Freedom Charter. Equality and human dignity underpin the tenure of our Bill of Rights, for these were at the root of the social injustices of our past.
Human Rights on paper, however, no matter how well and beautifully formulated, do not in themselves guarantee that a society will be more caring. It is the responsibility of the state to create an environment conducive to human rights being realised, and it does so foremost through legislation.
To this effect, many of our laws have been enacted while keeping in mind the social and legal injustices associated with apartheid. Institutions have been created to ensure that human rights in South Africa are enforced, most notably the SA Human Rights Commission and the Commission on Gender Equality.
Creating an environment conducive to the realisation of human rights is not the only responsibility resting upon the state. The state also has a duty to lead by example in conducting the affairs of government as part of the process to entrench human rights and, in the process, to give effect to the provisions of the Bill of Rights.
When we look at the many social protests flaring up in our beloved country almost daily and consider the indignity of households still having to use the bucket-toilet system, we realise that the state still has a long way to go. When we se the majority of our people still excluded from full economic emancipation and the hunger for land omnipresent in daily discourse, then we realise that the state has a very long way to go indeed before we can say that human rights are truly entrenched.
We submit, hon Speaker, that a caring society cannot be legislated, nor can it be brought about solely by the state giving effect to human rights. It also requires a paradigm shift by the people themselves. Just as the Bill of Rights binds the state in a vertical application, so it also binds individuals in horizontal application. Just as charity begins at home, so does respect for and adherence to human rights.
We are a bruised society; our collective conscience is still reeling from the social injustices of apartheid. The greatest challenge facing us as South Africa lies in rekindling the spirit of ubuntu. Once we achieve that, we will truly start the slow process of entrenching human rights amongst ourselves and contribute to building a caring society. I thank you.