Zuma's government developing "Non-racial heritage architecture"

Durban – President Jacob Zuma has at the Human Rights Day celebrations in Durban earlier today announced that government has drafted a national action plan to combat racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance.

Addressing the thousands of citizens who had gathered at Moses Mabhida Stadium, the President said the plan will help ensure that the concerns of individuals and groups encountering racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance are not brushed aside or underplayed, and that they are more effectively addressed.

“We have set ourselves on a mission to build a united, non-racial, non-sexist, democratic and prosperous South Africa.

“We are building a South Africa in which nobody will be discriminated against because of the colour of their skin, in the provision of services and opportunities by both the public and private sectors,” he said.

Human Rights Day 2016 has been declared as the National Day Against Racism and a foundation to lay a long-term programme towards building a non-racial society.

President Zuma said the draft plan is designed to raise awareness around anti-racism, equality and anti-discrimination issues among public officials, civil society and the general public, mobilising support from a wide range of people.

The plan emanates from the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action which was adopted at the 3rd World Conference Against Racism held in Durban in 2001.

The Department of Justice and Constitutional Development has been tasked with coordinating the development and finalisation of the plan.

“A national action plan steering committee, which comprises government departments, Chapter 9 institutions, international human rights agencies, faith-based organisations as well as civil society organisations has been established to enable wide consultations on the plan.

“Once final, the plan will be submitted to the United Nations Human Rights Commissioner for Human Rights. It will form the basis for the development of a comprehensive policy framework against the scourges of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance,” he said.

To complement the national action plan, the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development is finalising the Prevention and Combating of Hate Crimes and Hate Speech Bill which is expected to be tabled in Parliament by September this year.

The President said the law is intended to make hate crimes and hate speech a statutory offence.

“We urge all to participate in the shaping of this important legislation. We are aware of the fact that government cannot legislate against racist beliefs and prejudice.

“Solutions will require the consciousness and willingness of those who harbour such harmful beliefs to educate themselves about human rights and equality. They need to assist themselves to understand that those who look different from them, are not inferior.

“As South Africans, we say no to racism and racial discrimination. We say no to xenophobia. We say no to prejudice and intolerance,” said the President.

The plan requires schoolchildren and the youth to be taught about the non-racial society South Africa is building. Government has already begun programmes of promoting patriotism and a national identity among children.

Symbols such as the national anthem, the national flag and the preamble to the Constitution are being promoted in schools.

Non-racial heritage architecture

President Zuma said government, through the Department of Arts and Culture, is developing a non-racial heritage architecture in the country.

The Liberation Heritage Route is also being realised and will feature sites of significance in all nine provinces.

“Statues of our liberation heroes are being erected while their graves and other important sites are being declared national heritage sites.

“We are pleased to announce here that government will build a statue of the late Co-President of the United Democratic Front, and one of the leading stalwarts of our liberation movement, Mr Archie Gumede, in Durban,” he said to a cheering crowd.

He said this will be a fitting tribute to a patriot who dedicated his life to the attainment of liberation in the country.

- SAnews.gov.za