Johannesburg - The trust deficit between racial groups is worrying, Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Friday.
“We must address the attitudes, the practices, and the prejudices that undermine our efforts [towards social cohesion],” he told a Gauteng social cohesion summit in Boksburg, east of Johannesburg.
“Now more than ever we need to direct our energies to united action... we need to make sure the discourse of the past does not define our future.”
Gauteng was holding its first social cohesion summit following the national summit in 2012.
Ramaphosa said there were many things ordinary South Africans could do to promote social cohesion.
One of these would be learning each other's languages.
“If we are to be a socially cohesive nation, it is important that we learn each other's languages. We should make an attempt.”
Ramaphosa said he tried to speak Afrikaans, even though it was broken, because he wanted to extend a hand.
He said there also needed to be respect for different cultures, and people needed to be tolerant of those who had different views.
Another challenge affecting social cohesion was crime.
“Communities must fight crime and corruption... our communities must be united,” Ramaphosa said.
“We must revere human life and protect the vulnerable.”
Touching on what Gauteng premier David Makhura had said earlier, Ramaphosa said the province, which had the largest number of immigrants, had to lead the country in combating xenophobia.
“It is a difficult issue, but as South Africans we are accustomed to dealing with difficult situations,” he said.
South Africans needed to come together to craft a social compact.
“Our people need to share a common identity and a common destiny.”
“Let us do everything we can to forge social cohesion and continue to be one people like Madiba sought to make us,” Ramaphosa said.