Freedom and protection are constitutional rights
Our Mid-Term Budget Policy Statement was delivered by Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba recently. It called on all of us to work together to re-rationalise our resources and accelerate all our efforts as government in this penultimate month of the year to conclude most of our programmes before the start of the festive season.
Working together, in this fashion will put us in a good position at the end of the financial year in March 2018. We should continue to work hard to serve our people so that they end the year on a positive note.
By all means and at all times public servants have to be vigorous and must be loud defenders and advocates of the interests of the people, both in what they say and in what they do. Despite our efforts in terms of delivering services to the poor, the challenges our country faces are not in any way significantly diminishing. Others are becoming increasingly unpredictable, such as natural disasters, protests from various sectors and of course unacceptable levels of crime, among many other aspects. In this month of November we also launch the 16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children (16 Days of Activism Campaign for 2017). Despite this campaign having run for 18 years, crimes against women and children are still continuing. This is why we said the 16 Days should actually be the culmination of our 365 day campaign, under the theme "#CountMeIn", Count Me In: Together Moving a Non-Violent South Africa Forward. This contributes to the message of social cohesion and nation-building through the call we make on all South Africans to actively advocate for and reject violence against any vulnerable persons, particularly women and children. We cannot build a free and better society where significant sections of our people are still not realising their constitutional rights to freedom and protection in their own country.
This year the 16 Days of Activism calendar will be launched in the Eastern Cape on 25 November 2017, in line with The Year of OR Tambo theme and the emancipation of women. President Tambo was a champion not only of the right of women to equal political participation in the ANC, but he also bequeathed us the Bill of Rights which is the important kernel in our Constitution today.
The launch will focus on the continued roll-out of National Dialogues intended to continue the debate and discussion on the prevention and eventual eradication of violence against women and children. The purpose of the dialogues is to create awareness about these forms of abuse in our society, and to rally our people to take action against abuse. The Minister in the Presidency Responsible for Women is the custodian and champion of the #365 and the 16 Days of Activism Campaigns.
We urge everyone in our society to participate. Traditional Leaders; faith-based organisations; civil society institutions, particularly men's organisations and health professionals; as well as the private sector are all coming to the party in the line-up of programmes this month.
The launch of the 16 Days of Activism Campaign will be complemented by a Joint Sitting Debate with the theme focused on the commitments of Members of Parliament and Parties to the improved prevention of violence and the protection of women and children as victims of violence in their various political constituencies. At provincial level, the Offices of the Premiers have coordinated the campaign in collaboration with municipalities and other provincial and local social partner formations to accentuate the call against this violence.
Other activities lined up for the 16 Days campaign include interfaith prayers. Most importantly, the campaign is also linked to and overlaps World Aids Day on the 1st of December.
In 2015, the Department of Women (DoW) combined the white ribbon symbol of the campaign with the red ribbon of the HIV/AIDS campaign to demonstrate the link between Violence Against Women and HIV and AIDS.
On World AIDS Day, 1 December 2017, national and provincial departments of health will host various events across the country to share information and solicit accounts the impact of Violence Against Women and Children on the prevalence of HIV and AIDS. The Department of Justice will be launching the Sexual Offences Court in December to give this crime the specialised attention it deserves.
We therefore call on our communities to take part in activities by various departments, all in the spirit of stamping out this crime and making this country a better one for all who live in it. Let us support the activities not only on the actual days but at all times so that we free the resources dedicated to crime for other service delivery needs.