Call for African cohesion
President Jacob Zuma has been asked to convene a continental summit on social cohesion following his address in Kliptown, Soweto, yesterday.
South Sudan's Minister of Youth Culture and Sport, Dr Cirino Hiteng Ofuho, who attended the Soweto event, said Zuma should organise such a summit on the continent.
He said South Africa was not alone in dealing with matters of cohesion and that such a summit would benefit the continent.
The summit, hosted by Arts and Culture Minister Paul Mashatile, takes place as the majority of South Africans are crippled by alarming unemployment, depressing poverty and widening inequality gap.
The event was attended by DA leader Helen Zille, Cosatu secretary-general Zwelinzima Vavi, religious organisations and community organisations.
Zuma said South Africa needed to invest in school sport, education and implement policies that will bridge the gap between poor and rich.
He said during the 2010 Fifa World Cup, which South Africa hosted successfully, citizens of all races and backgrounds were united behind Bafana Bafana and put forward a united front to ensure the tournament's success.
The government, he said, had increased its investment in school sport, which Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula first announced last year, from R27-million to R42.6-million.
"During that soccer tournament we succeeded in promoting national unity and in building a sense of common nationhood," he said.
Zuma said the government, through the Arts and Culture Department, had also identified several projects that will assist in creating jobs and promoting domestic and international tourism.
Zille took a swipe at the Basic Education Department for its failure to resolve the "embarrassing" crisis in Limpopo, where primary school pupils were deprived of textbooks for six months as a result of incompetent officials.
"We need to take more pride in discharging our responsibilities, whether as members of government or as private citizens," she said.
"This means a government that cares passionately whether learners get their textbooks on time. Because if we don't equip our children with the education and skills they need to take advantage of their opportunities, we will never have a cohesive society."
Vavi said inequality was by far the biggest obstacle to national unity and social cohesion.
"No amount of talk at summits like this will bring us closer together unless we can solve the underlying structural problems within our economy, which are the root cause of our unemployment, poverty, inequality and social divisions," he said.
Vavi said that, instead of making impractical resolutions, the summit should come up with answers on how to "restructure our economy, create decent, sustainable jobs, eradicate poverty and drastically narrow inequalities".