Keynote Address by President Zuma on the occasion of the Social Dialogue on the role of the Interfaith Movement in Conflict Resolution, Peace Building and Development, Goodhope Centre, Cape Town
30 October 2012
Chief Whip of the Majority Party, Dr Mathole Motshekga,
Honourable Ministers and Deputy Ministers,
Members of Parliament and Provincial Legislatures,
Distinguished Traditional Leaders here present,
Leaders of political parties and religious denominations,
National and Provincial leadership of the National Interfaith Council of South Africa (NICSA),
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Fellow South Africans,
Good afternoon to you all.
The preamble to our democratic Constitution states that;
“We the people of South Africa, recognize the injustices of our past. Believe that South Africa belongs to all who live in it, united in our diversity”
Our Constitution further urges us to heal the divisions of the past and establish a society based on democratic values, social justice and fundamental human rights.
It urges us to lay the foundations for a democratic and open society in which government is based on the will of the people and every citizen is equally protected by the law.
The Constitution urges us to improve the quality of life of all citizens, free the potential of each person and build a united and democratic South Africa, able to take its rightful place as a sovereign state in the family of nations.
These directives by our Constitution seek to give meaning to our understanding that the South African struggle for national liberation sought as its primary purpose.
This was the elimination of the inhumane system of colonialism and apartheid; founded on conflict, domination and suppression.
In its place, our struggle sought to bring about a society based on equality, human rights, prosperity and dignity for all. This is a society at peace with itself and the world around it.
Programme Director, faith based organisations, working together with the rest of society, have a critical role to play in strengthening efforts to build the kind of society envisaged in our Constitution.
Indeed we look up to faith based organizations to assist us in efforts to advance our country further along the path of nation building, promoting social, reconciliation and national healing.
Many South Africans walk around with deep-seated unresolved pain, arising from a horrific past. There was never enough time to cry or mourn in 1994, as we had to start working immediately to build a new country. Also, the message, correctly then, was for people to move on.
Now is the time to focus seriously on healing and nation building.
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission played its part, but the healing process was not completed.
Gradually we need to deal with the pain which manifests itself in the high levels of anger in the manner in which people respond to frustrating situations.
We have people who burn community halls or libraries to indicate that they want houses or clinics.
Others burn trains because these arrive late. The following day, they have no train to take them to work and they become more frustrated and angry.
We have had parents stopping children from going to school to demonstrate to government that they need a road as it happened in the Northern Cape.
We need to work together to find ways of channelling this anger towards solutions.
This we can achieve through government and the people working together more meaningfully than before, with the assistance of key stakeholders such as the faith-based sector.
Government cannot undertake this work alone. It needs the support of all sectors.
It is for this reason that we will continue to prioritize social dialogues, such as this one today, in our quest to make new and decisive advances towards our goal of building a truly united, non racial, non sexist, democratic and prosperous society.
Dialogue remains at the centre of our approach towards conflict resolution and building national consensus on many issues that we may appear divided.
Dialogue and striving for consensus has seen our country overcome some of its most difficult challenges.
Through dialogue we were able to find one another and collectively agree on the way forward before the CODESA negotiations, during those negotiations and after.
We owe it to our nation’s ability to find one another through dialogue that in 1994 our country began in earnest on a journey towards an inclusive and prosperous future for all.
Dialogue also moved our country away from a situation of violence and political intolerance to that of tolerance, mutual understanding and working towards common objectives.
Even today as we navigate through the challenges of our time, dialogue has proven to be the most potent tool to resolve our differences.
Consistent with our time-tested approach of prioritizing dialogue and consensus, on the 4th and 5th of July this year, more than a thousand delegates from across the length and breadth our country, representing all racial groups converged in Kliptown for the National Summit on Social Cohesion.
Inspired by the generation of 1955 that came together in Kliptown and adopted the Freedom Charter, those who attended the National Summit on Social Cohesion recommitted themselves to the vision of a united, non racial, non-sexist, democratic and prosperous South Africa.
Together they pledged to do everything necessary to build a caring, humble and dignified nation.
Delegates to the Social Cohesion Summit agreed on a progranmme of action that will be implemented jointly by government, civil society, labour, business and all other stakeholders.
This programme of action is aimed at assisting us as South Africans to make new and decisive advances towards the noble goal of one nation, one country, one people and a shared destiny that belongs to all who live in it, Black and White, united in our diversity.
Delegates to that historic Summit also resolved to work together to build a society where there is respect, equality and human dignity for all.
They resolved to promote freedom, the rule of law and democracy, improve the material well being of all citizens and ensure economic justice.
They further committed themselves to enhance sound family and community values; uphold honesty, integrity and loyalty; ensure harmony in culture, belief and conscience; show respect and concern for all people; strive for justice, fairness and peaceful coexistence as well as to protect the environment.
All of these commitments made at the Summit are are contained in the Charter of Positive Values which was adopted by the Moral Regeneration Movement in 2009.
Government will continue to work with the Moral Regeneration Movement to promote greater acceptance and awareness by the people of South Africa of the Charter of Positive Values.
We will use the Values in the Charter as one of the tools at our disposal as we build a more inclusive, caring and dignified nation.
The Charter of positive values signifies our commitment to the humanist values of Ubuntu.
These are the values that teach us that umuntu ngumumtu ngabantu; that our future is linked; that what unites us far outweighs that which divides us; that humanity is one and that diversity is a source of strength.
It is when we put Ubuntu at the centre of all our endeavors that we will succeed in laying a firm foundation for a nation and society that is based on human solidarity, respect, accountability, appreciation, tolerance and caring for another.
The pursuit of the values contained in the Charter of Positive Values will allow us to take a stand against all that erodes the good that is inherent in all of us.
The pursuit of these Values will make it possible for the goodness in all of us to be given space to blossom and influence others in a positive way.
It will allow us to act in a manner that brings hope in the place of despair, light where there was darkness and progress where stagnation prevailed.
Indeed these Values are a reaffirmation of our common humanity and will go a long way in strengthening our advance towards a better life for all.
We must continue to make the point that moral renewal is a continuous process and that it is a responsibility of all South Africans to work together to build a society based on moral values.
We must also highlight the reality that the building of moral communities is an important element of deepening the progress we are making to unite the South African nation, to heal the wounds of our unhappy past and to build a prosperous society for all.
We must continue to spread the message that as South Africans we are a nation that inherently has high moral values and standards.
This we say, because those who conceptualised and led the South African struggle for national liberation such as Chief Albert Luthuli, Walter Sisulu and Lilian Ngoyi and many others, devoted their lives to changing the moral compass of this country.
It is therefore critical that as this generation of South Africans, we must do everything necessary to continue building the kind of society our forebears fought so bravely for.
As we pursue this noble task we must continue to draw inspiration and lessons from, among others, one of our country’s foremost humanists, former President of the ANC Comrade O.R. Tambo who would have turned 95 this month.
We learn from President Tambo and his generation of leaders the importance of dialogue and consensus in arriving at solutions to even the most difficult challenges we face.
As we endeavour to build moral communities, and to foster a national consensus on the challenges we face, we must also work hard to address the socio-economic needs of our people.
While massive progress has been made over the past 18 years of freedom and democracy to build a better life for all, the majority of our people continue to grapple on a daily basis with challenges of poverty, inequality and unemployment.
We must therefore continue to work together to find comprehensive responses to these challenges.
This we must do because it is not possible to talk about building moral communities, and working towards common goals, without at the same time ensuring that there is a visible difference in the lives of South Africans.
In this regard, we must work together to expand access to employment and other economic opportunities, especially to our young people, women and people with disabilities. Equally we must work hard to provide our young people with the skills required to be absorbed in the economy.
It is obvious that the Interfaith Movement has an important role to play in conflict resolution and peace building.
We must heal our country, and we must find healing as the South African people. As government, we are ready to walk this journey with the inter-faith community.
We truly appreciate your contribution in dealing with these challenges.
I thank you.