Deputy President David Mabuza has called on all sectors of the economy to rethink the project of nation building and social cohesion to quell racial tensions, and build an inclusive economy in light of the recent incidents of civil unrest, especially in Phoenix in KwaZulu-Natal.

The Deputy President was responding to oral questions in the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) on Thursday.

Winnie Ngwenya, the ANC’s NCOP delegate from Gauteng, had asked whether the Moral Regeneration Movement, of which the Deputy President is a patron, has played any role in assisting government to quell racial tensions that were stoked by the brutal and senseless killings of 36 people during the recent public violence, looting destruction of property in KwaZulu-Natal.

“The unfortunate events significantly reversed the progress we had made against racism.

“They challenged all of us to rethink the project of nation building and inclusive economic growth to be fully reflective of the aspirations contained in our Constitution.

“For as long as the majority is feeling excluded from economic opportunities and shared growth, the journey towards a cohesive society will be steeper and harder to climb,” he said.

The Deputy President said it is incumbent upon all the leaders of society, working across political lines, to lead and address decisively the root causes of the unrests and find shared sustainable solutions to ensure this dark period in the country’s history is never repeated.

“For its part, the Moral Regeneration Movement and the Social Cohesion Advocates have done considerable work in dispelling racial tensions, especially in KwaZulu-Natal.

“Various organisations and civil society have also been on the ground right from the beginning of the social unrest, visiting and engaging communities in affected areas like Phoenix, Chatsworth, Verulam, uMlazi and Greater Pietermaritzburg.”

The Deputy President said it was encouraging to note the work that has been led by the Premier of KwaZulu-Natal in showing solidarity with the affected families and communities in the province who lost their loved ones during the unrest.

The KwaZulu-Natal provincial government, in partnership with the South African Police Service, has facilitated engagements with the affected communities, and community leaders through the establishment of District Rapid Response Task Teams.

Further to this, the teams have developed interventions for all districts, and are monitored on a weekly basis at provincial level.

“To further strengthen the work of the Moral Regeneration Movement in the province, the Premier has established a Social Cohesion and Moral Regeneration Council to coordinate interventions, and provide meaningful support to affected families and communities within the province.

“We are advised that the work of this council will include the establishment of Peace Committee Forums, whose main objective will be to maintain peace and work towards reconciliation by involving community leaders from areas such as Bhambayi, Zwelisha, Amaoti, Inanda and Phoenix.”

The Deputy President said the Minister of Police, together with the KwaZulu-Natal MEC for Safety and Community Liaison and the KwaZulu-Natal Provincial Commissioner have, on a number of occasions visited Phoenix and the surrounding areas to engage communities and identify the culprits who were involved in perpetrating violence.

“We are pleased to report that to date over, 35 suspects have been arrested, and the police are working with the community to improve safety and security, which proves that as a nation, we are a resilient people, who are open to deep societal introspection in order to find healing.”

The Deputy President said there was a need to deal decisively with the scourge of racism as it is not in the interest of all South Africans.

“That is why we are encouraged by the swift intervention of the Commission of Religious and Linguistic Rights, which is conducting hearings in the affected areas of KwaZulu-Natal.

“This contributes a great deal in facilitating a resolution to the friction and conflict between and within cultural, religious, and linguistic communities in our country, thus promoting peace, tolerance and national unity.

“All these initiatives can only succeed if we stay united as a people and find sustainable solutions to challenges of economic exclusion and inequality in our country.” –

Source: South African Government News Agency

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