Hon Speaker, in a country as diverse and pluralistic as South Africa, with its veritable melting pot of cultures and ethnicities, its young democracy, constitutional dispensation and myriad social and economic challenges, it is nothing less than a gargantuan task to build a caring society by entrenching human rights for all. Yet it is a task that we must be equal to.
Our democracy follows closely on the heels of an authoritarian, apartheid regime, built upon the cornerstones of separate development and inequality. In the 21 years since the fall of apartheid, we have still not been able to redress or reduce, in large numbers, the imbalance in any significant measure. With our Gini coefficient, which is a measure of inequality in our society, currently at 0,63, we are still one of the most unequal countries in the world.
In addition, our heterogeneous nature - with our 11 official languages, four major racial groups, each with their own ethnic linguistic subgroups - makes it an extreme challenge to foster social cohesion.
On top of this, we have an economic environment characterised by high unemployment and low economic growth. We must build our society so that we can have low unemployment and high economic growth instead. This is not an easy task, but one that must be done.
We must also build strong foundational human rights structures in this country. Our Chapter 9 institutions remain a concern and need to be accorded greater mechanisms of enforcement. These institutions are meant to safeguard our democracy. Instead, we have seen the independence of the Independent Electric Commission come into question and the Public Protector being attacked for doing her work in an impartial fashion. How can these guardians of democracy be praised on the one hand, but at the same time be undermined by the very people who praise these establishments?
As the IFP, we want to see human rights for all, with a specific focus on women's rights. The chronic underrepresentation and undermining of women in our society is appalling, in spite of claims that South Africa is progressing on gender issues.
The progressive nature of human rights in South Africa is consistently limited, due to the laws that are not well implemented, as well as other factors. I thank you.