Cape Town – Government has urged all South Africans to confront racism from all fronts for the sake of nation building and social cohesion.
Chairing a media briefing of the Social Protection, Community and Human Development Cluster at the Imbizo Centre in Parliament on Tuesday, Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini said the call follows concerns over a spike in racial incidents since the beginning of the year.
“This calls for national dialogues and community conversations to discuss as South Africans the importance of building a united nation, social cohesion and the eradication of racism.
“The cluster echoes what the President said during the State of the Nation Address (SONA) and urges all South Africans to confront the demon of racism and devote our time to an anti-racism campaign in which organisations and our people across the board join in a coordinated national effort and pledge to fight racism at all levels,” she said.
She said as per President Jacob Zuma’s announcement, this year’s Human Rights Day on 21 March will be commemorated as the ‘National Day against Racism’ and laying the foundation for a long-term programme of building a non-racial society.
Gender issues to be prioritised
The Minister said, meanwhile, that the struggle for justice still continues as the country continues to fight the triple challenge of poverty, unemployment and inequality.
She said the struggle is even greater for African women who continue to suffer a double injustice.
“Traditionally, women and girls continue to be discriminated against on the basis of their gender, while African women also endure discrimination because of their race. As a result, the African woman is the face of poverty, not just in our country, but in the rest of the African continent.
“This is why our government has put in place policies and programmes that are meant to improve the lives of women,” she said.
Minister Dlamini said during March 2016, South Africa will present its 5th Periodic Report on the Convention on the Elimination of All forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) to the UN CEDAW Committee.
She said the report focuses on the progress made in advancing gender equality and women’s empowerment as well as challenges that still remain despite non-sexist and anti-discriminatory legislative and regulatory framework.
“We call on all stakeholders to use the Status of Women in the South African Economy Report – launched by President Zuma in August last year – to close identified gaps for the socio-economic empowerment of women.
“We remind women and other vulnerable groups to make use of government’s 24-hour call centre dedicated to providing support and counselling to victims of gender based violence,” she said.
The toll free number to call is 0800 428 428 (0800 GBV GBV) to speak to a social worker for assistance and counselling. Victims can also request a social worker from the Command Centre to contact them by dialling *120*7867# (free) from any cell phone.