Our country can heal if we unite

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ST_nomvupremier0 (27263706) INLSA Nomvula Mokonyane. Photo: Leon Nicholas

We have come to the end of July, an important month in which our government, our citizens and the international community chose to dedicate to our Struggle icon, Nelson Mandela.

Throughout this period, people concurred with the notion that some of the values Mandela represented, such as his selflessness and fighting for a moral and just society, should compel all of us to emulate him.

It is, therefore, important that as we begin the month of August, we continue with these good deeds.

Throughout the month, we will be celebrating the struggles of women and honouring the 20 000 women who marched on the Union Buildings in 1956 in protest against the draconian pass laws that were being implemented by the apartheid government.

As August is Women’s Month, the problems facing women will also come to the fore. But it is discomforting that 56 years since that historic march to Pretoria, women in SA still face enormous problems, among them, the persistence of violence that is directed at women and children in particular.

Despite good progress since 1994 in putting together laws that seeks to promote the respect of human rights and protect women, a lot of work still needs to be done about moral regeneration and building social cohesion.

Moral regeneration and social cohesion are inextricably linked to the broader political outcomes we seek to achieve in giving effect to the rights enshrined in our constitution.

The systematic deprivation and abuse of human rights and human dignity by the apartheid system left deep scars and divisions that will take generations to heal.

Our moral regeneration efforts must include: intensifying our efforts to improve the material conditions and the quality of life of people; promoting social cohesion, positive values and an ethical society; and developing a shared vision of the future around which to mobilise people’s efforts.

As part of Gauteng Vision 2055, we have embarked on widespread consultation with all sectors of society to build on the ideals and dreams represented in the Freedom Charter and constitution.

In this context, the Gauteng provincial government has sought to mobilise people around efforts to build the values of morality and respect in our communities, and to protect the most vulnerable.

Our communities face a myriad problems, among them an apparent lack of morality that manifests itself in many ways such as disrespect for others.

We have realised that the government cannot succeed alone. It needs the buy-in of people. We have established partnerships with various organisations in communities to find solutions.

We have also recently seen in Gauteng shocking reports about gender-based violence directed at women and children. In some instances, this has also affected people with disabilities.

As the government, we are playing our role, we are clamping down on criminals as shown in the decline in many categories of crime. But civil society needs to play a greater role in contributing towards moral regeneration and the development of caring and ethical communities.

This begins with reclaiming the streets from criminals and the rogue elements that peddle drugs. Let us respect and love each other, stand together to protect the weakest members of our society and instil good values among our children from an early age.

Through such actions, we will succeed in healing our country.

l Nomvula Mokonyane is the premier of Gauteng


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