Don't be distracted by racists - Mthethwa

2016-01-21 11:27
Nathi Mthethwa (Netwerk24)

Nathi Mthethwa (Netwerk24)

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Johannesburg - South Africans should not allow a small number of racists to ruin the socially cohesive society the rest of the country has worked hard to build, Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa said on Thursday.

"We should not be distracted in our quest to build a non-racial South Africa. We have long passed the stage where we emphasise what we are against... all the intolerances, be they racism, xenophobia, sexism, you name them," he said.

He was speaking at meeting of social cohesion advocates in Woodmead, north of Johannesburg.

Plan of action

Mthethwa had called a meeting with the advocates to draft a five-year plan of action that would be used to address issues of racism and social cohesion.

He wanted the group of organisations and individuals that had gathered at the meeting, to come up with ideas that unified South Africans across all barriers.

"What are those things which unite us as South Africans? What are the unifying perspectives in South Africa? What are the values that we should espouse?"

He said their approach to this task needed to bear in mind the realities of some racial incidents that tended to flare up within society from time to time.

Mthethwa said the option of criminalising such intolerance needed to be looked at.

"We need to look at the regulations we have, looking at them and strengthen them, including criminalising such intolerances, but also being aware that no matter what beautiful laws you have, you will never be able to regulate the attitudes of the people."

Things will get better

He said the role of social cohesion advocates was more important now than it had ever been, and needed to be taken a level higher.

"Things are changing and they will continue to change, they will get better, we will overcome the hurdle we find ourselves in, but we need greater co-operation."

The journey towards a non-racial society had taken a turn for the worse recently and something needed to be done, he said.

"We see examples of people calling other people names and so on, and we ask ourselves, which we should, 'how long should this continue to happen?'

"How long should people be left unattended to with hate speech, with comments that are hurting others? How much longer do people in South Africa, mainly those who are racist amongst us, should continue to think that they are superior to others and be left unchallenged?," he asked.

During the fight against the apartheid regime, people were not only fighting for the liberation of the oppressed, but for the oppressors as well.

Those who saw others as sub-human only showed how dehumanised they were, and they too needed help, Mthethwa said.

Read more on:    nathi mthethwa  |  johannesburg  |  racism

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