MESSAGE FOR DAY OF RECONCILIATION BY EC PREMIER

MEC for DSRAC
Other Members of the Executive Council present
Speaker of the Provincial Legislature
Nelson Mandela Museum Chairperson
Chairperson of the Eastern Cape Council of Churches
Chairperson of the MKMVA
Invited Guests

Good morning.

We are convened this morning to celebrate a very important day in the calendar year of our nation, the Reconciliation Day. Uzobuza umntu ukuba kutheni sesithetha ngosuku loxolelwaniso? Kwakwenzeke ntoni?

Kubalulekile kengoko siyichaze imbali yolu suku ukwenzela sonke sibenomqondo omnye.

Ilizwe lethu lisuka kwixesha elinzima eleza nabantu bokufika abamhlophe abafika baxutha umhlaba wokhokho bethu ngetshova kwiminyaka engamakhulu amathathu, anamashumi amathandathu anesibhozo agqithayo (368).

U Jan Van Ribeeck wafika eKapa ngo 1652 ekhokhele iqela lamadatshi elazinza kwelase Kapa. Ngo 1820 kwagaleleka amangesi kwakhona eKapa. Ze wona athi anwenwela kwimimandla yalapha ephondweni lethu kwindawo ezifana nase Bhayi, e Barthurst, nase Makhanda.

Kuyo yonke lento yabafiki kwasuswa abantu abamnyama kumhlaba wabo. IKumkani neNkosi zeZwe lakowethu zange zisonge zandla zalwa iimfazwe eziyileyo phaya kwithoba zikhusela ukuthathwa komhlaba wazo kweliphondo lethu. Uninzi lweKumkani zeZwe lakowethu zawa zikhusela umhlaba, kwaphalala negazi labantu abaninzi abantsundu.

Ekoyisweni kwazo iKumkani zethu inxalenye yabantu bakuthi benziwa amakhoboka okusebenzela abafiki, besomkeliswa imivuzo engenasidima emigodini yase Rhawutini, nasemaplasini.

Ngo 1912 isizwe esimnyama sadinwa yile mphatho mbi, saseka umbutho wokulwela amalungelo abantu abantsundu iAfrican National Congress. Yabaluxanduva lwe ANC ukujijisana nengcinezelo yabantu abamnyama kweli lizwe ukusukela ngoko.

Ngonyaka ka 1948 kwazalwa urhulumente wobandlululo owawuphethwe ngabantu bentetho ye Afrikaans owathatha apho urhulumente wamangesi wayeka khona ukucinezela umntu ontsundu.

Lo rhulumente wamisela imithetho eyakhohlakalela umntu omnyama nangakumbi, waphuca amalungelo omntu omnyama, warhuqela nesidima somntu ontsudu eludakeni.

Kungelixesha apho i ANC yathi yaqinisa nangakumbi ekulweleni amalungelo omntu ontsundu eMzantsi Afrika phantsi kwesikhokhelo sika Nkosi Albert Luthuli. Ngalo elixesha iANC yayinamatshantliziyo aquka ongasekhoyo uTata u Walter Sisulu, uTata u Oliver Tambo, uTata uNelson Mandela namanye amaqhawe. Ukanti asinolilibala igalelo lamagorhakazi elilizwe ngeloxesha.

Ndingabalula ongasekhoyo uMama uCharlote Maxeke, uMama uAlbertina Sisulu, uMama Helen Suzman, uMama uLilian Ngoyi, uMama uWinnie Madikizela-Mandela nabanye abaninzi.

Kanjalo ngaphandle kumbutho we ANC ayekhona amanye amagorha athi aphakamisa izandla zawo athi nawo ayaya edabini lokulwa norhulumente wobandlululo. Ongasekhoyo uTata uRobert Sobukhwe nongasekhoyo uTata uSteve Bantu Biko ngabanye balamaqhawe. Ukanti baninzi abanye abantu amagama abo angadumanga abawa endleleni, igazi labo liphalazwa ngamagosa orhulumente wobandlululo.

Apha eMpuma Kapa sinentlekele zomzabalazo eziliqela apho kwawa amatshantliziyo ezifana ne Bhisho Massacre, Queenstown Massacre, Ingquza Hill Massacre, Ergeton Massacre, Duncan Village Massacre and Uitenhage Massacre xa ndibala nje imizekelo. Bonke abantu abawa kwezi massacre babesilwa imithetho yengcinezelo, kwaye ibala labo lintsundu. Bangamagorha omzabalazo angaxutywanga.

Reconciliation Day therefore is about reconciling the people of Dutch origin who speak Afrikaans in our country, with people of British origin who speak English in our country and black people who were oppressed by both the people of Dutch origin and British origin in their own land.

This is a day that is meant to join all these racial groups together as citizens of our beautiful nation and province to reflect on our divisive painful past, to ascertain whether we have really done enough to heal our wounds and to have a conversation about what more can we do to build a truly non-racial society. Our government has been consistent in its promotion of racial harmony in South Africa since the dawn of democracy. We have changed many of the policies that segregated people along racial lines and put in place policies that unite South Africans. We have also developed government priorities to build social cohesive, caring and sustainable communities.

But we must confront our past. The racism that was done by apartheid and colonialism to black people was a crime against humanity. That racism demonized black people. That racism perpetuated stereotypes about black people. That racism tampered with the identity of black people. That racism indoctrinated black people. Above all that racism violated black people in a manner that was unforgivable. But black people were bigger and better than their oppressors. They were more humane than their oppressors. When they had all the opportunity in the world and resources to exert revenge on their oppressors, they chose to take higher moral ground. That is why in South Africa we have had peace and stability in the 26 years of our democracy.

But as I speak to you today, I am honestly worried about incidents of racism that are once again meted on black people by their white counterparts. These are happening in workplaces such as farms on a daily basis, these are happening in retail businesses, these are happening in domestic homes and even more worryingly these are now being extended to a whole new generation of young black people in our schools, 26 years into our democracy.

To make matters worse there are organizations that are hell bent on dividing our people along racial lines and policies. On the progressive side you have the governing party the ANC, which continues to propagate the message of hope, peace and unity along the lines that South Africa belongs to all who live in it black and white as it has done since its formation in 1912. This stance is supported by other black led political formations who are of the same view as the ANC led government, that our past is our past, we must build a new future that will accommodate all South Africans black and white sharing and benefiting from equal opportunities.

On the regressive side you have political parties that are only concerned with interests of one racial group. For instance these are parties that quickly jump to label the criminality of farm murders as racial killings, when they are pure incidents of crime that affects all South Africans on a daily basis.

The leaders of these parties have adopted dangerous agendas that are stirring up racial tensions in the country with policies that are aimed at preserving apartheid and colonial agendas. Most of them have sought to scare off international investors by peddling falsehoods about our land policies. All these are done in an attempt to preserve the painful history that was done on us in 1652, 1820 and 1948.

The context however is different now because today we live in a free Continent and we have a generation of black people that is more capacitated to defend itself against any form of discrimination and inhumane treatment.

As government we have a responsibility to calm racial tensions in our country and province because there will be a heavy price to pay for all of us, if our nation goes into a racially divisive downward spiral.

Part of what we must do to defeat this new wave of racism is going back to the teachings of the founding father of our democratic nation, the late President Nelson Mandela. Between 1960 and 1999 when he stepped down as President of South Africa, Madiba shared with us some profound words which are consistent with the policies of his beloved organization, the ANC. His words are worthy of revisiting in these troubled times where there are some in our country who want to take us back to bloody confrontations.

In 1964 in the dock of the Rivonia Trail, Nelson Mandela stood tall with his head held high and said: “The ANC has spent half a century fighting against racialism. When it triumphs as it certainly must, it will not change that policy. I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons will live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal for which I hope to live for and to see realised. But, My Lord, if it needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”

Madiba was sent to jail for 27 years by the apartheid regime for this noble ideal of having people of all races living together in harmony and with equal opportunities. He was not sent to jail for wanting opportunities for black people and hardship for white people.

Thankfully Madiba lived to realise the noble ideal he was unfairly sent to jail for when became the first President of a democratic South Africa in 1994. Again in his inauguration address he shared assuring words with South Africans of all races when he said: “Never, never and never again shall it be that this beautiful land will again experience the oppression of one by another and suffer the indignity of being the skunk of the world.”

Indeed during his reign as President, Madiba worked tirelessly to unity all South Africans. He invited most of the people who kept him in jail for 27 years to his home and shared dinner with them. He also used sports as a rallying point for national unity and through the foundation he laid the Springbok Teams of 1995, 2007 and 2019 united our nation across racial lines with their rugby world cup victories.

In his first 100 days as President of South Africa in 1994, Madiba once again shared some insightful words with South Africans when he addressed Parliament and said: “Millions have suffered deprivation for decades and they have the right to seek redress. They fought and voted for change and change the people of South Africa must have.”

From this last quote we must learn that without redress for the sins of the apartheid past, there can never be true reconciliation in South Africa. As long as the black population remains landless, jobless, living in poverty and without economic opportunities that are enjoyed by their white counterparts, there will never be true reconciliation in South Africa. Time for walking on egg shells around these fundamental issues is over. South Africans, particularly those who own economic means of production must open their hearts to accommodate their fellow countrymen in the economic table.

There are things that can be done to make the process of reconciliation a reality. At the top of my mind, I am thinking that farmers must begin to treat farm workers with dignity and allocate them parcels of land to create their own wealth. Government is accelerating the process of land redistribution for black farmers. But the white farming community should be patriotic enough to come on board to assist the black farmers to develop into viable commercial farmers. It is a win-win situation for the South African economy when such an arrangement happens.

Government will also be releasing other parcels of land for human settlement development. The intention is to end the eyesore conditions of squalor that our black masses are living in, which are characterized by informal settlements while their white counterparts are living in communities that are habitable with appropriate amenities.

I am also thinking that Principals in former Model C schools must begin to adopt township and rural schools to uplift their standard of education. Our children did not experience our painful past. Let us create a future that unites them.

The exodus of learners from townships to former model C schools is a phenomenon that must concern all of us. We must develop programmes that will link former model C schools with township and rural schools so that our children can grow up understanding and appreciating their diverse cultures. These could include exchange programmes and hosting of regular sports matches between township schools and former models C schools.

On the economic front, there should be deliberate and conscious decisions by white owned firms to empower black owned companies. As things stand black owned companies are only reliant on government for business because white owned companies are largely transacting with each other. These are hard truths we must talk about frankly if we are truly going to be a reconciled nation that grows and prospers together for the benefit of all citizens.

Lastly, I believe our national sporting teams have a role to play in reconciling our country. They should not unite us only during world cup tournaments that are held once in 4 years. We must see Springboks in rural villages holding coaching clinics, same for the cricket team, the netball team, the hockey team and soccer team. These are national assets for uniting our people. They must be at the forefront of reconciling our nation. For them to be able to do that effectively, they must be representative of the different racial groups that exist in our country. And for them to achieve that, they must open opportunities for people of all races to participate. The embarrassing revelations at SA Cricket of racially motivated ill-treatment of black cricketers was a bitter pill to swallow for many of us. Such shenanigans cannot be allowed to continue because sport is not a monopoly of one racial group. All races are blessed with talented individuals who could be picked to represent our country in international sporting tournaments. The Rugby World Cup Winning Team that was led by Siya Kolisi proved this fact beyond any reasonable doubt again last year. People with racist attitudes have no business leading our national sports teams and should be booted out every time they rear their ugly racist heads.

Let me end by saying, the founding fathers of our democracy Madiba, OR Tambo and others would be disappointed if we let a few bad apples in our society to lead us astray into the dungeons of racial hatred. They worked and sacrificed their entire lives to save us from a civil war. The nations of the world hailed our democratic victory a miracle. But it was not a miracle. A miracle is something that just happens out of the blue to surprise you. Our democratic breakthrough came through hard work, determination, pain and suffering. Many people suffered and lost their lives for our freedom. Our freedom was not free. In honor of all those who fell on the way to our democratic victory, we must address the challenges that divide us and move forward as one nation united in our diversity. The most pressing challenge is racism and socio-economic deprivation for black people. The white community of our country, can help us achieve socio-economic liberties quicker for black people when they are willing to share.

I wish you all the citizens of our province black and white, a safe festive season. The Covid-19 pandemic is now more deadly than the first wave. Please wear your masks consistently, wash your hands regularly, maintain social distance, avoid large gatherings of people and stay at home as often as possible. Through these measures we will defeat this virus and save lives. Zigadeni. Take care of yourselves.

Thank you.

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