Last week I announced my plan to initiate a series of dialogues on race and identity entitled Stand Up, Speak Out, involving South Africans from all walks of life.
The intention behind these dialogues is to create a space in which South Africans, including civil society organisations, community leaders and religious organisations, can engage in open and frank discussion about race – sharing their experiences, challenges and obstacles.
These dialogues will not be dominated by politicians, nor will they be conducted under a party political banner. They are to give a voice to South Africans, and to discuss how we can confront the evil of racism and move forwards towards the united, non-racial South Africa described in our Constitution.
This week I officially begun the process and have requested meetings with, amongst others, the following civil society organisations:
The South African Council of Churches (SACC), an inter-denominational forum of religious organisations, committed to the promotion of justice, dignity, and national reconciliation.
The Council of Higher Education, South Africa (CHE), government’s higher education oversight body which plays a vital role in the development of higher education in South Africa.
The South Africa Principals Association (SAPA), a professional group where current issues facing teachers and the education system are discussed.
I will also be engaging with a group of multi-racial South African families, a sub-set of people who frequently are the victims of racism. We will discuss their experiences of racism and how they deal with racial identity in their families.
In addition to these external dialogues, I have also initiated platforms for dialogue within the Democratic Alliance.
The DA is already the most diverse party in South Africa’s history, but we still have some way to go. I will therefore also be hosting Stand Up, Speak Out sessions in all of our provinces, with public representatives and activists, with a focus on shifting the culture of the DA towards even greater inclusion and diversity.
Ultimately, if we are to craft our shared future together – as one nation with one future – we must have open and honest conversations about our divided past and challenges it has bequeathed us