‘We need to build a strong South Africa’

An arts activist from Bethlehem in the Free State, Lekgutsa Mbele, says the need to build a strong and united South Africa should not be taken lightly.

Mbele made this remarks during a two-day Social Compact Convention organised by the Department of Arts & Culture in Pretoria last week. 

According to a statement, Mbele urged government to include the youth, women, and people living with disabilities in its development programmes.

“There has been criticism in some quarters that we have not recognised the realities of unemployment, inequalities and poverty which threaten to stymie progress that may have been made since the dawn of democracy,” he noted.

He added there was need to build a strong South Africa that will unite and give an opportunity to communities to have a say.

“Leaders will fail to lead if they are weak and indeed there can be no success in this social cohesion and national building programme if women are violated and rendered invisible.”

Also there will be no progress if the government continues to ignore the youth, pointed out Mbele.

Sports, arts and culture minister Nathi Mthethwa said that the rationale for the Social Compact Convention comes from the realisation that no single sector, including government, can single-handedly succeed in achieving a socially integrated and inclusive society.

“If South Africa is to become a socially integrated and inclusive society, the different sectors need to make commitments and hold each other to account. We have set aside this auspicious day as South Africans from across the societal divide and from a wide range of sectors, to bargain with one another and reach a broad consensus in terms of the spirit of the social compact – a social contract that all shall voluntarily enter into as part of the contribution to the promise of the constitution and the vision of the NDP,” explained Mthethwa.

He noted despite their precarious status in society, women had over centuries played a significant role in fostering cohesion across society.

“It is an irrefutable truth that women tend to be predisposed to such critical roles in society as a peace-making, medication and nurturing of relationships. Implicit in this is the view that all effort towards social cohesion and the national building will stutter unless women are at the very centre of that project and play a meaningful role”. 

The conference was attended by Judge Yvonne Mokgoro, former president Kgalema Motlanthe, deputy president David Mabuza, premier of Gauteng David Makhura, ministers, traditional leaders and members of the national and provincial legislatures.

Judge Yvonne Mokgoro said, “The promotion of social cohesion in our society is a constitutional imperative. When the bourgeoning mass liberation movement at the turn of the 19th century got traction, at the very heart of that struggle was the commitment to work towards a future South Africa that is free from all forms of injustice, including all forms of prejudice and discrimination, a society in which the potential of all people is harnessed for the benefit of society as a whole and not a privileged few.”

By: Neo Ntsele