Crucial role of social cohesion, morality spelled out
Regional Political Editor
PREMIER Willies Mchunu yesterday told a conference on moral regeneration and social cohesion that it should not be forgotten that it was Nelson Mandela who led the discussion on the issue as a way to create a better country.
Mchunu was speaking at the inaugural meeting of the province’s Social Cohesion and Moral Regeneration Council in Durban.
The aim of the council is to directly deal with marginalisation, exclusion, socials ills and political intolerance within the province of KwaZulu-Natal.
The 81-member council is made up of representatives from civil society, business, academia, labour and other stakeholders to ensure development and implementation of programmes and to deal with issues at hand.
The fifth anniversary of Mandela’s death was marked across the country on Wednesday.
“We have come a long way since the first democratic elections of 1994, when it seemed the democratic order – while it heralded freedom from oppression – had also ushered in the worst forms of social ills and disorder in our communities.
“It was in this context that Mandela introduced the Moral Regeneration Movement, which he termed the ‘RDP of the Soul’,” Mchunu said.
He said Mandela’s vision was to resuscitate morality among South Africans, and address the social ills afflicting communities.
“It led to the formation of the moral regeneration movement. Principally, we realised back then, that moral regeneration was not the preserve of the faith-based communities alone, but of every citizen and sector in our province and country.”
Mchunu said the KZN Provincial Growth and Development Strategy (PGDS) envisaged a province that “by 2035 will be prosperous, with a healthy, secure and skilled population, living in dignity and harmony, acting as a gateway to Africa and the world”.
He said the legacy of colonialism, apartheid, patriarchy and capitalism had contributed to the erosion of social cohesion, the destruction of social capital and to conditions of social injustice.
“We have noted with considerable concern that in spite of 24 years of democracy, and extensive investment in improving the quality of life of all our people through social services, access and equity interventions to effect transformation and a social welfare safety net, our social stability is still at risk and being undermined by division and social ills.
“In this regard, we are yet to form a provincial and national identity to which we will all subscribe. The fact is that we cannot be united if we remain divided along lines of race, colour, language, religion, or any other belief.”
Bishop Rubin Phillip, of the Anglican Diocese of Natal and deputy chairperson of the council, said South Africans needed to remember that not too long ago, the country was a place of oppression, physically, geographically and psychologically.
“We haven’t even arrived at that point when we can claim to be completely free. We need to forge ourselves into a caring, kind community and not just one focused on self-enrichment.
“This is where I think the social cohesion and moral generation project can play a crucial role.”