Let’s reignite Nelson Mandela’s vision for a united, democratic and non-racial South Africa

2014-04-27 09:54

‘Our march to freedom is irreversible. We must not allow fear to stand in our way. Universal suffrage on a common voters’ roll in a united, democratic and non-racial South Africa is the only way to peace and racial harmony.’

As we celebrate Freedom Day we are once more reminded about this vision of a united, democratic and non-racial South Africa so aptly expressed by our former and late statesman President Nelson Mandela. The negotiated settlement reached in 1994 and the acceptance of our National Constitution laid a solid basis for South Africa to transform itself from a race-based and Apartheid state into a non-racial and democratic state.

This remarkable achievement brought hope to millions who had to suffer the indignities of Apartheid. We now owe it to Nelson Mandela to nurture and safeguard his vision of a united, democratic and non-racial South Africa.

In a non-racial state, unlike a race-based state, everyone regardless of his or her ethnic and cultural origin is afforded equal status. In a non-racial state, unlike a race-based state all citizens are united in their endeavours to bring about a society based on democratic values, social justice, fundamental human rights and economic inclusion.

However, for this non-racial dream to become a reality both those who benefited from the previous race-based state and those who had to endure discriminatory legislation, forced removals, land dispossession and economic exclusion, must find common purpose in order to create change in their thinking, behaviour and daily interactions within institutions, organisations and communities.

Such change is enhanced through a range of enablers, such as sustained dialogue at community level to promote social justice, projects promoting skills transfer and knowledge, building trust and capacity, sharing of resources and empowerment activities seeking to broaden economic participation and wealth creation.

More importantly however, common purpose is not a one way affair where victims of Apartheid remain stuck in a vicious spiral of victimhood, reliance on others and entitlement. It’s about taking ownership of challenges and turning it into opportunities.

In this regard one would expect of those in charge of municipalities, schools, hospitals, state departments and all other service delivery mechanisms to provide the best service to society possible and to focus on the greater good. In short – it’s about visionary leadership that acknowledges that without each other South Africa has a snow ball’s chance in hell to succeed economically and politically.

Such leadership also recognizes the importance of cultural diversity and the economic as well as educational value of it. In this regard our National Constitution lays out clear paths for growing our languages and cultures and using it as drivers to unify diverse communities and as a means to create wealth through the economic opportunities it provides.

The South African non-racial miracle that came into being in 1994 touched the lives of millions for the better. For many millions it remains a miracle deferred due to bad politics. A small minority due to their obsession with race and self-centeredness dismiss it outright.

For the latter I have a message: The non-racial path we chose as a country is as irreversible as the rising tide that will rid this country eventually from the scourge of corruption, racial divisions, non-delivery and some bad policies that again discriminate on the basis of race. To ride with this tide makes more sense than to conjure up all kinds of fallacies to justify an inherent racist and yesteryear notion of a South Africa that was.

Let’s unite, defend and drive the vision of a united, democratic and non-racial South Africa forward. This requires very little effort, but finding common purpose and channelling our energies towards the greater good of society.

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