Address by His Excellency President J G Zuma at the Bethlehem informal settlement, Hermanstadt, Pretoria West
30 March 2010Programme Director, Mr Dirk Herman
Premier of Gauteng, Nomvula Mokonyane
Executive Mayor of Tshwane, Ms Gwen Ramokgopa
General Bheki Cele of the South African Police Service,
The community of Bethlehem and surrounding areas,
I am happy to be here just a few days before we celebrate Easter, one of the holiest times of the year for all Christians.
During this period of sacrifice and spiritual upliftment it is important that we acknowledge the suffering of the poor among us.
For the poor, sacrifice is not restricted to the month of Lent, but is a cross they bear daily. This is what informs our visit here today.
This time round I return as President of the Republic and not only of the ANC as I did in 2008.
I therefore now come with more Ministers as well as the Premier and the Mayor.
They need to hear you first hand and keep track of developments in this area.
This is my third visit here. I have stated before that I will not hide behind policies and reports. I want to hear firsthand the concerns of our people here.
Our presence today is a confirmation that we are a government that is committed to all South Africans, regardless of colour, race or creed.
That has always been our policy and it is the foundation upon which this democracy is built.
We stated in 1955 that South Africa belongs to all who live in it, black and white. The Constitution of the Republic made this a Constitutional imperative in 1996.
It is our country, all of us, and we have to work together to make it work and to make it succeed.
Since 1994 this democratic government is committed to meeting the needs of all South Africans.
Our Constitution guarantees that government services will be provided to all South Africans irrespective of race, religion or creed. Service delivery has no colour.
For as long as there are people who suffer the indignity of poverty in our country, this government will not rest.
Our government has various poverty alleviation mechanisms. While our ultimate goal is the total eradication of poverty, we have put these mechanisms in place to ensure relief.
From social grants to the expanded public works programmes, there are many opportunities provided by government that assist in poverty alleviation. We urge you to make use of these services, and officials will be sent here to raise awareness.
The last time we came to this area you requested health services.
I am also aware that since my last visit the City of Tshwane has made available a mobile health clinic that provides services to this community on a monthly basis.
The South African Social Security Association is also present here to register all who qualify, for social grants. The Ministers, Premier and Mayor have also seen the area, and will be able to provide services from their portfolios.
Our premise has always been that working together we can do more.
We appreciate the role of Afrikaner organizations such as Solidarity and AfriForum who are actively participating in solving some of the problems we face.
I welcome the fact that Solidarity will be meeting with the Minister of Police soon to discuss the fight against crime.
I had a brief meeting in Cape Town with Solidarity when they delivered anti-crime letters.
The Minister will take the matters forward as he also emphasizes the need for all communities to work together to fight crime. Government cannot win the war against crime alone.
By working with policing forums we will be able to put an end to criminal activities. We really appreciate your hands on nature on this matter.
Ladies and gentlemen, what we must remember is that our strength as a nation lies in unity and reconciliation, and in working together to build our country.
We are already beginning to build a common nationhood, to share the same sports, music and other cultural activities.
Whereas once the Blue Bulls was an all-white rugby team with only white supporters, it is now a mixed team with the majority of supporters being black.
That is how far we have progressed as a nation. It is this kind of unity in diversity that we want to see reflected in all areas of South African life, not only sport.
Let me emphasise that respecting the rights of all citizens, including minorities is an indisputable policy of this government. We will always urge all our people, of all languages and beliefs, to be tolerant of one anotherís cultures, languages and traditions.
We must also respect each otherís history and heritage.
We are aware of the controversy around freedom songs and the recent court ruling. This has indicated that we have not yet effectively dealt with issues of history and heritage in our country.
In 1994 we had to move quickly to improve governance and service delivery, and also to ensure that we bring all South Africans together around a new democratic order.
We have done well since then. But now we must make social cohesion a top priority.
We must have a national discussion of a common heritage, as we must reach a common understanding and tolerance of one anotherís culture and history, based on a thorough discussion and consensus.
This discussion will educate our children, so that they do not allow anyone in future, to take this country on the route of pain and mayhem again.
If we fail to address social cohesion and heritage issues, there will be an outcry each time we need to change a street or town name, or to put a statue somewhere.
We must make social cohesion as important as providing access to water, electricity or roads.
We have already called for a national debate on morality and common values in the country. These debates are interlinked.
I would like to assure you that this government will never allow anyone to oppress any group of South Africans or to promote violence.
Ladies and gentlemen, in just a few months time we will all enjoy the fruits of working together. The FIFA 2010 World Cup has been a boon to our economy, creating jobs and developing infrastructure across the land.
Our roads, transport and other infrastructure has enjoyed accelerated development as a result of the World Cup and will provide a lasting legacy for all South Africans beyond 2010.
Fellow South Africans, our presence here today must assure you that the Rainbow Nation is very much alive.
South Africa belongs to all who live in it, black and white and all colours in between!
I must confess that my visit here is also always encouraged by the wonderful food that you always offer, potjiekos, bobotie, pap and vleis and all food that is South African!
These are the types of small but very important things that define who we are as South Africans and we must cherish them.
Having come as President of the Republic now, with the government machinery at my disposal, I have to ensure that your requirements are taken care of.
These Ministers will send their officials to take any matters that have been raised here today and in previous visits forward.
Service delivery should not be delayed any further, and working together we must do more!
I wish all of you a blessed Easter and a peaceful Holy Weekend.