Keynote Address of the MEC for Sport , Arts and Culture Ms Bongiwe Mbinqo-Gigaba at the commemoration of Human Rights Day on the 21 March 2018 at the Mayibuye Precinct in Galeshewe

Programme Director Cllr Moshewu
MEC for Economic Development and Tourism Mr. Collin Mac Jac
MEC for Transport , Safety and Liaison Mr. Lebogang Motlhaping
Councillors from the Sol Plaatje Municipality
Head of Department of Sport , Arts and Culture Ms Ruth Palm
Acting Regional Head , Department of Justice and Constitutional Development , Adv D Plaatjies
Community Members from Galeshewe and Surrounding Areas
Members of the Media
Distinguished Guests


Allow me to start by greeting you ,  Dumelang , Good Morning , Goeie More , Molweni , Sanibonani , Abushesni

Ladies and Gentlemen, I have just greeted you in six of our country’s eleven official languages.

I have done this as a way of reflecting the diversity of us South Africans as a nation; a nation our founding father; Tata Nelson Mandela, once referred to as a “rainbow nation”.

It is therefore our wish that every South African, irrespective of race , colour or creed must realize that the key to unity in our country is to embrace the reality that all South Africans have many identities and yet we are all South African. 

The motto on our National Coat of Arms, is one from the San Languages ,and it says “!Ke e: /Karra //Ke , meaning “united in our diversity”. Therefore as  a nation we have never been premised on the notion of a melting pot. We are a diverse nation who is continually striving to be united. 

All of this, Ladies and Gentlemen, speaks to the unique make-up of the new South African nation we are building; a nation united in its diversity. 

This is a nation that shaped and inspired Nelson Mandela the character; a nation that Nelson Mandela the Prisoner suffered for; and a nation that Nelson Mandela the President worked hard to lay the foundations of! 

Our National Motto, !Ke e:/xarra://ke,speaks of the reality that; while the South African struggle for national liberation could have easily become a struggle against a particular race group, it evolved to embrace humanity as one and to view diversity as a source of strength.

As we continue to build the new South African nation, we do so in line with the values instilled on us by Tata Madiba and his generation of freedom fighters.

These values include Ubuntu which teaches us that; I am because you are. They also include the values of humility, respect for others, dignity, courage and selflessness.

As the Government we are proud to commemorate Human Rights Month under the theme: “The Year of Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela: Promoting and Deeping a Human Rights Culture across society”. The theme is in line with the celebration of the centenary of the former stateman Nelson Mandela.  
Human Rights Day is a national day that is commemorated annually to remind South Africans about the sacrifices that accompanied the struggle for the attainment of democracy in South Africa.

South Africans worked tirelessly for the transformation of our country to an open and democratic society based on human dignity, equality and freedom in which government is based on the will of the people and every citizen is equally protected by law.

The massacres in Sharpville and Langa continue to serve as a historical reminder to all of us to make efforts towards protecting human rights and human dignity.

Human Rights Day seeks to educate all South Africans about their human rights and obligations and make citizens aware of government services and programmes which will give effect to ensuring that their human rights become a lived reality.

Ladies and Gentlemen

Mandela advocated for human rights for all and believed that to deny “people their human rights is to challenge their very humanity”. 

This year’s Human Right Month will be used to pay tribute to Madiba and many others who sacrificed in our struggle for freedom to ensure that we may enjoy human rights. 

We will also reflect on the advances we have made on human rights and restoring the human dignity. 

As we are all seated here today, we must take a firm stance on justice and equality. We as leaders in our communities must be at the forefront of strengthening the transformation agenda and canvass for the uniting of non-racial society.  As part of our efforts to achieve national unity, social cohesion and the eradication of racism, we ought to encourage and urge the country to get involved in dialogues such as this one. 

Racism must be addressed through the regeneration of our moral fabric. Lofty ideals such as ubuntu (humanity towards others), the concept of a rainbow nation and even African renaissance must find form and relevance in our interactions and lived experiences.

Racism is a scourge that humiliates both the perpetrator as well as the victim and so we need to guard ourselves against it lest we lose our dignity. There is no magic wand to this problem.

The challenge that racism poses to sustainable peace and reconciliation in South Africa cannot be overemphasised. Until we address the social divisions as a result of the history of segregation our quest for the same is likely to remain misleading

As we know, former President Mandela and his generation led the radical transformation of the African National Congress. 

They led the defiance campaign in the fifties, contributed towards the adoption of the Freedom Charter in 1955, formed UmkhonthoweSizwe in 1960 and led the negotiations towards a free South Africa, in which he eventually became its founding President.

As South Africans we are indeed proud to be the children of Nelson Mandela and to share his proud legacy with the rest of the world.
We are of the view that the South African miracle wouldn’t have been possible if it was not for the leadership of former President Mandela and his generation and indeed the support of the rest of the world. 

We therefore remain forever indebted for their efforts in ensuring that we secure our freedom.

As stated by the former President Mandela himself who said; “We should never forget those on whose shoulders we stand and those who paid the supreme price for our freedom”. 

Let me add that those upon whose shoulders we stand and who paid the supreme sacrifice for us to be free, are both in South Africa, in the African continent and in the rest of the world. 

Side by side we fought not just for the freedom of South Africa, we fought also for the freedom of the oppressed people wherever they are.

In this context we are reminded of Robert Mangaliso Sobukwe who inspired many in South Africa that a dream of a better world was possible.

We are commemorating the 40th anniversary of the death of Robert Mangaliso Sobukwe, who was a defender of human rights. 

The apartheid government has tried to let him perish in detention, but they failed. He endured unjust trials and long years in prison, took to the streets in defiance of unjust laws and never knew if he would see his wife and children, but because he believed that the only way to be freed from the shackles of colonialism and apartheid was to selflessly donate to the cause of freedom we are enjoying today. 

In her State of the Province Address, Premier Sylvia Lucas, indicated that this year, Kimberley Hospital will be renamed after Robert Mangaliso Sobukwe.

We also find ourselves here today to unveil the first phase of the renovations to the Office of Robert Sobukwe. On the 27th February 2018, at the inaugural memorial lecture of Robert Sobukwe I indicated that as government we were disappointed at the state of the office, just to be informed by an audience member that we must be embarrassed by the state of the office. Now as a government who listens to our people we are here today to restore and rectify our embarrassment and honour Robert Mangaliso Sobukwe with the dignity he deserves.

Let us ensure that we retain the structure in the pristine condition which we envisage working towards, so that we can enjoy the collective benefits of the legacy of Robert Sobukwe.

The office belongs to all of us – the government and the community. It is therefore our joint and collective responsibility to ensure it remains protected and far divorced from vandalism and theft. There is no obvious political explanation to vandalize this building, other than as an expression of anxious masculinity and wanting to prove a point to your peers. 

Furthemore it seems we’re dealing with a version of the “broken glass” syndrome, where anything official or commemorative becomes a magnet for the disaffected’s dissatisfaction.

The office is part of our heritage and our heritage is everything that we inherit from families and our society. It is our very heritage that gives us our sense of identity and belonging , therefore we must stand up for what is ours and report  any damages to the local authorities.(police)

Ladies and Gentlemen

We are encouraged that twenty four years into our freedom and democracy we have made significant progress in building the kind of society that Mandela and his generation of visionaries envisioned. 

We are succeeding in building a society that, in the words of Nelson Mandela, is at peace with itself and the world.

However we accept that there are challenges that still lie ahead. These include high levels of poverty, unemployment and underdevelopment.

As you know President Mandela once said: “I have discovered the secret that after climbing a great hill, one finds that there are many more hills to climb”

We too as we move along the path of reconstruction and development we are discovering that; there are many more hills to climb. 

We continue to investment in our young people, knowing fully-well that it is on their shoulders that our future as a nation lies.
Our major task in this regard has been on educating in particular the African child, because education remains the primary source for the development of a people. 
We will continue to invest in the development of the youth because it is they who bear the brunt of poverty, unemployment and underdevelopment.

We must therefore redress the imbalances in the economy and human, and socio-economic rights. As South Africans we must all work together to build a more inclusive economy that truly reflects the demographics of the country.  The economic freedom of millions of South Africans will give effect to our hard fought human and socio-economic rights. Together we must support redistributive measures that enhance the standard of living and quality of life for all.

Working with business, labour and the community sector we have to change the ownership, control and management of the economy.

Key to this ladies and Gentlemen , is the orderly and lawful land restitution and expropriation without compensation. A motion to amend the Constitution so as to allow for the expropriation of land without compensation has been passed by the National Assembly.  The matter has since been referred to the Constitutional Review Committee which must report back to Parliament by 30 August. There will next be a series of public hearings followed by committee meetings to agree on a recommendation to the National Assembly.  We invite all South Africans to make their voice heard during the public hearings. Through a process of dialogue, discussion and engagement we will arrive at solutions that will take our country forward

So there is no need to panic and there is no need to create panic amongst fellow South Africans.

Change is inevitable and if we want to grow as both individuals and as a nation, we must accept that we need to change.

Ladies and Gentlemen

We have set ourselves on a mission to build a united, non-racial, non-sexist, democratic and prosperous South Africa.
We are building a South Africa in which nobody will be discriminated against because of the colour of their skin, in the provision of services and opportunities by both the public and private sectors. 
As we proceed with this mission, we are guided by the words of our beloved Former President Nelson Mandela who said: 
“No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin, or his background, or his religion. 
“People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”

As South Africans, we say no to racism and racial discrimination.
We say no to xenophobia
We say no to prejudice and intolerance.

I thank you and wish you all a meaningful Human Rights Day!







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