Bua Briefs 120

20 March 2008

South African Human Rights Day

South Africa observes Human Rights Day on 21 March each year to commemorate those who lost their lives as victims of violent repression, to affirm progress in realising human rights and dignity in our country and to recommit ourselves to ensure that these rights are fully enjoyed by all.

We need a conscious, determined and sustained effort to build our nation

On Human Rights Day, we call on all of society to work with government in further building national reconciliation, unity, shared pride and a new patriotism based on respect for human rights and the Constitution.

While millions of lives have been transformed, many are still exposed to apartheid’s legacy of poverty, inequality and racism. We still need years of united action to speed up progress towards a better life for all.

Let us join hands to further improve the lives of all. Let us say NO to crime and corruption, NO to violence against women and children and NO to racism and sexism .

Let us on this day take pride in our country’s progress in building a society based on equality, non-racialism and non-sexism

In the 14 years of democracy, South Africans have together laid a firm foundation for new advances, bringing new opportunities and better lives.

The challenge is to ensure that the opportunities and improvements are enjoyed by everyone.

Steps to build social cohesion among all South Africans are being intensified

Government wishes to promote peaceful existence among all its citizens, founded on the right of all to receive basic needs, be accorded human rights and enjoy one’s culture and language.

As part of the popularisation of national symbols to promote national identity, flags are being installed in schools.

Through indigenous music and oral history projects we will encourage positive values and national identity.

All sectors of our society should discuss the draft National Schools Pledge, intended to promote social cohesion and nation-building

Broad consultation on the National Schools Pledge [PDF] 55 kb should promote civic participation and responsibility among young people.

Learners will be expected to recite the pledge – based on the values of the Constitution – at least once a week at school assembly and on other suitable occasions.

From an early age, children will develop a sense of national pride and unity.


Economic confidence

There is a worldwide slowdown stemming from excessive stimulation of borrowing in the United States (US) economy in the Greenspan era. The loss of assets in the financial sector is leading to a retreat by banks from anything considered risky. The cost of borrowing and the investment hurdle rate are rising. Current losses on the Johannesburg Securities Exchange are likely to continue until the US situation stabilises. We see these developments within the global context.

While we are paying for excessive consumption, especially in the USA, and also by the middle and upper classes in South Africa, the main drivers of the world economy, the growth of emerging markets, still underpins positive medium- to long-term prospects.

The conservative fiscal stance of government makes us less vulnerable than many other countries. Debtors are being punished, but the level of debt of the South African Government, and its level of international debt are both very low. This is a big advantage for South Africa.

We have made progress on projects, with visible implementation of projects such as the building of new dams, new bus fleets, improving hospital infrastructure, building new police stations and schools and more.

Our investment in infrastructure such as in rail, roads and pipelines, makes us more competitive and allows us to export more and create jobs in the export sectors.


Economic highlights

Investment in construction: R10 billion has been spent on the construction of the R25-billion Gautrain rapid-rail link, with R1,43 billion going to 250 empowerment companies. The project has created 24 700 direct and indirect jobs, while also luring back 37 South African professionals from abroad. R440 million has been spent on the procurement of South African material and equipment.

Fast, modern and convenient buses: The envisaged Bus Rapid Transport (BRT) system for Johannesburg and Tshwane will bring modern, frequent and fast public transport to these heavily congested cities.

Commuters from low-income areas will have equal access to economically active regions as BRT bus routes will service townships. With integrated, reliable and safe public transport becoming a reality, social economic development spin-offs will have sustainable long-term economic benefits for the province.