Address by Minister Faith Muthambi at the occasion of the 9th annual Soul Buddiz Club National Congress, 8 December 2014, Rustenburg
MEC for Education and Sport Development, Me Wendy Matsemela, Me Gertrude Mashimane from the Department of Health, Leadership of the Soul City Institute, Distinguished Principals and Educators present here today, Guests of honour, the young people of our beloved country
Ladies and gentlemen
Thank you for the invitation to speak at your important event marking the 10th annual anniversary of the Soul Buddyz Club. This invitation comes at an important time in our annual calendar as the country. We are right at the end of our campaign of 16 days of activism for no violence against women and children. “COUNT ME IN”
Our country is faced with enormous challenges of all kinds of abuse against women and children. The numbers of children who are physically and sexually assaulted, used for child labour, and left to fend for themselves in child-headed homes are staggering.
These challenges are not insurmountable for a country that has defeated the greatest crime in the world. Apartheid destroyed our sense of communities that were a close knit, where everyone cared about everyone, but together we conquered and destroyed apartheid. When we worked together, members of a community were a family and worked as a unit to resolve problems that faced them in their respective localities. No one today can convince me that we are incapable of tackling the new social challenges that face us.
Public awareness and public education are at the centre of our work as government to ensure that ignorance is not an excuse for the demise of our communities. The responsibility of building an educated and sensitised public cannot be a task of government alone. We need a collective effort involving community structures, corporate and political organisations working together to find solutions. Part of our biggest task in the post-apartheid South Africa is to revive our moral fibre by refocussing our moral compass, and regenerating our moral standing.
The Presidency and the Ministry of Women and Children have done tremendous work in mobilising many groups in our society to ensure that everyone is on board. Some of these groups are composed of men who are committed to making a change in our society not only by their words but by their actions. Organisations such as Brothers for Life, People Opposing Women Abuse (POWA), Child Line, Love Life and many others have been instrumental in ensuring that government succeeds in making the necessary change in our society.
We must acknowledge organisations that remain strategic partners of this project such as Child line, The Teddy Bear Clinic, Child Welfare South Africa, Thuthuzela Care Centres, South African Police Service, the departments of Basic Education and Health.
My presence here today is partly to thank you for having led this cause for social cohesion and social change. Soul City has been at the forefront of our efforts to address social ills in South Africa since the dawn of democracy. South Africa is seriously indebted to this important organisation. I say we are indebted because through your programmes in the media and in various public outreach initiatives, you have mastered the art of educating young people about key social challenges such as HIV/Aids, child abuse, domestic abuse and drug abuse. Your efforts may have targeted the young people but the message has thoroughly penetrated through the minds of the adults too. Soul City’s partnership with the SABC is what our people expect from a public broadcaster, a world class local content that empowers communities daily.
Today, parents are able to engage with their teenagers about contraception, sex, circumcision and love. Given the diversity of our country, addressing such topics was a challenge to our societies and the various customs and traditions that govern them. The success of your efforts is evident in how you’ve managed to bridge the lines of communicating with our people tactfully and empowering them in the process. We are now equipped with the correct language, to have the conversations with our children and our communities about the challenges we face daily, and how they can overcome them by making the correct decisions. This is commitment this ministry has signed with the President to deliver.
The partnership between the Soul City Institute and the Department of Basic Education is a critical one for us to ensure that this work continues and the goals are achieved. This relationship has to go beyond just education on HIV and the lifestyle that young people lead. It must encourage the participation of the broader society in policy formulation, the direction of our country with regard to social welfare, education, justice and health. These are important aspects of child development and your contribution remains vital.
In this congress today, we reaffirm your role as a key player in ensuring that as law makers we are on the right track regarding enacting the right laws. Laws that protect our children, streamlines our education and opens up opportunities for young people.
You are correct in your vision to strive for a society with children who have strong feelings and ideas about their lives, their health and issues in communities.
It is also true that young people yearn for opportunities to express their needs and to be involved in finding solutions for social problems.
The work done by the Soul Buddyz Club has pioneered these ideals and ensured that our young people have the environment where they can be bold about their thoughts, and their ideas and can express themselves in a way that does not suppress their views in society and questions patriarchy.
We must also be committed to building future leaders who are going to be fully aware of their social construct and table practical solutions to its challenges. This is our responsibility today not only to guide them, but also our responsibility to hear them and appreciate their thought process.
I thank Soul Buddyz Club for allowing children to participate in decision making about their lives and informing the decisions affecting children in our country. We must now ensure that this effort is sustainable and evolves with the changing times that continue to confront our children and society. We can achieve this if we continuously engage on these issues.
When our children advance through teenage years, they must be equipped with the right knowledge and resources that deal with preventing teenage pregnancy, access to support should pregnancy affect one’s life and how to cope with the stresses that come with high school. We must also assist them with skills to manage their finances and prepare them for productive life in university and beyond.
Our young people must be in a position to identify the skills that are required by our economy and make academic choices that are informed by the needs of our economy. They must see the opportunities that are available in our country and seize them with all their might. Only young people who have been brought up with adequate social education and life orientation will be able to make these kind of choices.
I must take this opportunity to congratulate the Soul City Institute and the Soul Buddyz Club for the amazing work over the years and charge you to continue with the invaluable contribution you have been providing in our new democracy.
In this event, as you have held your 9th congress, our government wishes you well, and hopes that many other initiatives that focus on areas of social development and social cohesion will have the kind of staying power that you have had. We call on the private sector, which has witness the impact you have made in our society and in fact join-in in numbers and help us in driving the kind of social change we all envisage.
You have played your part as the National Development Plan calls up on us to do as active citizens. COUNT ME IN !
Thank you for your attention.
Issued by: Department of Communications