Efforts to intensify national reconciliation as a way to heal divisions of the past need to continue says Sport, Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa.

“We need to continuously intensify the effort towards national reconciliation as a way to heal the divisions of the past, perpetuated along the lines of race, language, culture, religion and other social constructs.

“The reconciliation we speak about here is a project that involves all South Africans,” said Mthethwa.

The Minister addressed the National Reconciliation Day celebrations on Thursday under the theme: “The Year of Charlotte Mannya Maxeke: promoting reconciliation during the 25th anniversary of the Constitution”.

“For reconciliation to be meaningful, black people, and black women in particular, need to be economically empowered.

“We have walked this path together since 1994, with notable successes and pitfalls along the way. Our people have shown great resilience in the midst of the many challenges they continue to face each day,” he said at the celebrations held at the Cillie Sports Ground, in Kakamas outside Upington in the Northern Cape.

He said that while the triple challenges of poverty, unemployment and inequality remain, South Africans still have faith in this important national project of reconciliation.

“It is this unwavering belief in the project in the midst of despair and desolation that should be used as a foothold to encourage us to do more,” he said adding that government remains committed to the national reconciliation agenda.

“My appeal to you today is to join hands in a public display of unity so that we may foster mutual understanding. So that together we can make this great country of ours a truly socially integrated, cohesive and inclusive one.

“And so that we may lay a firm foundation for future generations of South Africans to have a common national identity and pride in a non-racial, non-sexist, democratic society underpinned by shared prosperity.”

The Legacy of Charlotte Maxeke

This Reconciliation Day marks the last of the 2021 commemorations and celebrations which memorialises and thus immortalise the struggle icon, uMama Charlotte Mannya Maxeke.

Mthethwa said that government has sought to use the national commemorations as one of the platforms through which to cement Mama Maxeke’s legacy.

“This undertaking also has to do with our unwavering commitment to change and correct the liberation narrative which has largely been male dominated and has thus far relegated women’s role in the struggle to a mere auxiliary function. It is for this reason that we declared 2021 as the Year of Charlotte Maxeke,” he said.

He said the theme underscores the fact that six days ago, South Africa marked the 25th anniversary of the enactment of the Constitution.

“This was indeed the most significant and historic moment in the creation of our constitutional democratic order,” he said.

The Minister acknowledged that while unemployment, especially among the youth, poverty and inequality still remain as blemishes on the national reconciliation agenda, “we are encouraged by the resilience of our people and their belief in this imperative.”

Fighting COVID-19

Meanwhile, Mthethwa has urged South Africans to use every available opportunity to remind themselves of the basic health protocols that need to be adhered to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.

He has also called on those who have yet to vaccinate, to do so.

“In this regard, I want to make this special appeal particularly to men and young people who are among the most resistant cohorts against COVID-19 vaccination,” he said.

Source: South African Government News Agency