Abusers, racists and bigots have no place in society and must be dealt with in terms of the law.
Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa said this during a question and answer session in the National Assembly on Wednesday.
“South Africa belongs to all who live in it but it does not belong to abusers, racists or bigots of any kind. The Constitution provides the basis for a new South African identity and enables South Africans to have a common bond. It is our responsibility as individuals, as institutions and as the state to forge that new identity and establish that bond.
“In short, we all bear a responsibility for building social cohesion. We need to promote increased interactions from all South Africans from different social and racial groups so that each group discovers in the other common humanity,” he said.
He said this in response to a question by United Democratic Movement (UDM) MP Nqabayomzi Nkwankwa, who asked if government’s social cohesion programmes were progressing well, making reference to a recent KFC incident in which several white males attacked a black couple.
The Deputy President said in light of the KFC incident and other incidents the fight against racism must move beyond social media.
“These ugly and humiliating encounters amongst citizens should not just be met with tweets, Facebook posts, media reports and research studies. They must be met with the full might of the law. Unapologetic bigots, abusers and racists must be put in their place and that place is off our streets.
“We must work to create an inclusive, tolerant society but those who patently refuse to be part of this society must indeed be dealt with in terms of our law.”
The Deputy President said it was not easy to measure the progress of social cohesion as results from citizen perceptions were often mixed.
“For example, the proportions of people who thought that race relations were improving declined from about 70% in 2000 to the current figure of 37% in 2015. In 2000, 85% of the population were confident of a happy future for all races.
“This has declined to 65% in 2015.
“On the other hand, progress has been made to address social and economic inequality through the provision of housing, basic services and healthcare.
“The racial incident which the member [Nqabayomzi] refers to offers a glimpse of the very worst in our society. However, the way that most South Africans react to these incidents, with shock and condemnation reflects the extent to which the basic values of our Constitution have become embedded in our national consciousness.” –