During Human Rights Month this year, two of the country’s rights are being challenged: the right to access to water and our equality.
These very challenges were addressed at Brand South Africa’s Human Rights Month open dialogue in Swartruggens, North West province. Held on Saturday, 12 March, discussions looked at the culture of human rights in South Africa. The underlying theme among all speakers was to take action and help fellow citizens.
Discussions took place before participants distributed 100 000 litres of water to the community of Borolelo, who are experiencing a severe drought. Operation Hydrate’s Yaseen Theba said all South Africans should stop criticising each other, the environment and the government for challenges we faced. Instead, we needed to take action to curb these problems.
Social advocate Yusuf Abramjee emphasized the need to help each other: “This is exactly what the Play Your Part initiative is about – active citizenry, South Africans using their skills, time and resources to help each other. As citizens we need to see what we can do to tackle some of South Africa’s issues.”
RIDDING SOUTH AFRICA OF RACISM
With President Jacob Zuma declaring 21 March a national day against racism, the issue of racism was brought to the fore in Swartruggens. Speakers stressed the need to unite and build the country.
Those who were at the dialogue took the pledge of the Anti-Racism Network South Africa (Arnsa) to eradicate racism. Arnsa is an initiative of the Nelson Mandela Foundation, the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation and 80 other organisations. It is leading many of the events taking place during Anti-Racism Week, which runs from 14 to 21 March, ending on Human Rights Day.
Project director of Civics Academy, Lerato Motaung, said society needed to build a country the youth would be proud to inherit. “To do so, we need to change the narrative. At present there is a focus on problems and problem-solving. This needs to shift to a discourse of building.”
While discussing the Constitution, Tshegofatso Ramokopeloa, the supervising attorney at North West University’s Community Law Centre, said South Africans needed to practice ubuntu within themselves. “Negativity starts and ends with us, as individuals… We need to use our skills, talents, time and resources to help each other – being selfish takes us away from democracy.”