SOCIAL COHESION AND NATION BUILDING INSPECTED
By: Cassandra Zungu
Just only 12% of blacks and 58% of whites have the opportunity of furthering their studies in universities.
These are some of the claims made by the African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP) leader Jo-Ann Downs at a dialogue on Social Cohesion and Nation Building at Elangeni Hotel on Wednesday night. The dialogue was hosted by the Democracy Development Programme (DDP).
Downs further claimed that inequality is present between racial groups but especially amongst black people themselves, those who are employed and unemployed.
Sthembiso Madlala for the DDP said that the dialogue was not only about a heated debate. “We have been doing this for the past 20 years and nothing has changed,” said Madlala.
He said it was aimed at establishing each political party’s perspective of the South African story and whether South Africans are more united in their diversity than they were 20 years ago.
Daubry Ngwenya who represented the Azanian People Organization (AZAPO), emphasized the importance of black people’s dignity. “When you have no dignity in your own country, you are powerless,” said Ngwenya. “Our young people learn in powerless situations. When you enter a school for black kids you can see that they are powerless but by contrast schools for white people are powerful, Ngwenya stressed.”
Agang SA’s Farahdiba Khalil who admitted to being inexperienced with political dialogues, believes that the topic did not need a political platform to be discussed because it is a humanitarian topic which means it can be discussed anywhere else.
“We know what we wanted 20 years ago and we know what we want now but somehow we lost each other along the way,” said Khalil.
“We’re all here as different political parties but were going to end up agreeing on the same thing because we all want a winning country,” she added.
Avin Bhola for the United Democratic Movement (UDM) acknowledged that minorities need to be catered for. He made reference to his daughter who was denied enrolment at an institution because of her skin color.
He stressed that it was “a sad reality” that policies which are followed result in alienating people they were designed for. “I challenged the institution and I won,” Bhola said.
The EFF’s Jackie Shandu stressed that Election Day in 1994 was supposed to be the turning point of economic data but white minority continues to dominate, especially with land.
“We are not going to come here and talk about social cohesion and nation building and romanticize the situation… they raped they killed in order to occupy the land,” said Shandu
In response to the EFF, Azapo believes there isn’t enough money in SA to transfer all the land to black people that are in need of it.
The audience engaged in the dialogue by asking one question per table directed to the panelists.
One of the questions that dominated was how the political panelists planned to implement social cohesion and nation building with regards to education and sexual orientation. The political representatives failed to answer the question.
Sthembiso Madlala ended the dialogue by admitting that South Africa is more divided than before but believes debates such as these will provide building blocks that this country needs. “We need more voices of civil society, one step at a time we will find a common compass,” said Madlala.
The programme director, Alex Mthiyane from Gagasi FM, commended the political parties that were present at the dialogue for their cooperation in dialogues such as these that spark debate especially with the upcoming elections.
IFP, Minority Front and NFP were also present at the dialogue.