Get IOL's cool new iPad app...
Johannesburg - The 2010 Fifa World Cup showed South Africa could unite but inequalities in society had overtaken that optimism, Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi said on Wednesday.
“Although now it seems a long way in the past, we must never lose sight of the glimpse it gave us of how we could indeed become a more united and cohesive society,” he told the social cohesion summit in Soweto.
His words echoed those of President Jacob Zuma who earlier told delegates the World Cup was a time of unity.
“Every citizen became an ambassador of our beautiful country,” Zuma said.
Vavi said the optimism of that time had faded.
“The apartheid fault lines remain in place in employment, health care, education, housing, transport, and across the spectrum,” he said.
“Meanwhile the overwhelmingly black, poor majority suffer from deep poverty, massive levels of unemployment, 1/8and 3/8 pathetic levels of service delivery in health care and education, housing and transport.”
Vavi said white men still dominated the economy.
“Almost all the top 20 paid directors in JSE-listed companies are white males, and in 2008 the top 20 directors of JSE-listed companies earned an average of R59 million per annum, whilst in 2009 the average yearly earnings of an employee was R34,000.”
Vavi said South Africa would not achieve social cohesion under these conditions.
“This inequality is by far the biggest obstacle to national unity and social cohesion, and no amount of talk at summits like this will bring us closer together unless we can solve the underlying structural problems within our economy, which are the root cause of our unemployment, poverty, inequality and social divisions.”
There had to be implementation if the summit was not to be just another talk shop.
Political parties, business leaders, and civil society and government representatives were attending the two-day summit organised by the department of arts and culture.
The summit's theme is: “Working together to create a proud and caring society”.
Delegates explored the role of the judiciary, Parliament, political parties and traditional leaders, among others, in building an inclusive society.
President Zuma first called for such a summit in 2009. - Sapa