South Africa Government

09/14/2021 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 09/14/2021 07:04

Premier Sihle Zikalala: Peace Walk in Phoenix

Address by KwaZulu-Natal Premier Sihle Zikalala during the Peace Walk in Phoenix, Bhambayi Stadium, 14 September 2021

Programme Director and MEC for Arts, Culture, Sport and Recreation, Ms H.G.S Mavimbela;
MEC for Education, Mr Kwazi Mshengu;
All MECs present;
The Mayor of EThekwini, Cllr. Mxolisi Kaunda;
The Director-General of KwaZulu-Natal, Dr Nonhlanhla Mkhize;
Deputy Chair of the Social Cohesion and Moral Regeneration Council, Bishop Rubin Philip;
Representatives of Faith- Based Organisations;
Community Leaders;
Our Artists and Sports Ambassador;
Members of the Fourth Estate;
Distinguished Guests;
Ladies and Gentlemen;

Sanibonani! Namaste! Salaam!

The late American peace warrior, A.J. Muste lived by the conviction that, 'There is no way to peace. Peace is the way'.

If we agree that peace is the way to peace itself and development, we equally affirm that peace and justice should be seen as reinforcing each another, not as mutually exclusive.

Peace, whatever its cost, must remain our foundation, virtue, and ideal if we are to speed up social transformation and bring justice to all.

Only through sustained peace, not through repression, violence, or the barrel of the gun can we manifest the promise of a free, united, non-racial, non-sexist, equal and prosperous society.

We have come to Phoenix today as a statement of our commitment to peace and social cohesion.

We have come to Phoenix to reach out to each other across the historically imposed barriers of race and ethnicity.

We do not come out of blindness or obliviousness.

During the tragic events of July where 300 people lost their lives in the looting and violence across KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng, much attention was focused on Phoenix.

Law abiding citizens correctly came forward to protect their stores and amenities.

Criminal elements also exploited the situation to kill and maim.

That criminal intent had a racial bent and we must say with one voice - African and Indian, young and old, Christian, Muslim and Hindu - that we condemn that without any reservation.

To paraphrase Dr Martin Luther King Jnr: 'Peace is not merely the absence of tension, but the presence of justice.'

Those persons charged with the killings must be dealt with appropriately and sternly in our criminal justice system.

Wounds will never heal until and unless there is demonstrable justice in all its facets. We walk these streets today in the belief that peace and justice is possible. That peace and justice will not come about simply because we proclaim it.

Our history both in the struggle against apartheid and in the 27 years of democracy is that peace, reconciliation and unity is the product of daily hard work on the ground.

In this regard we must acknowledge the peace-loving people of Phoenix, Bhambayi, Inanda, Zwelisha, Amouti and surrounding areas for coming together in forums, dialogues, prayer meetings and sporting events.

The clear message is that the peace-loving people in these communities stand firmly against violence, killing, looting, racial profiling or any other negative attitude that risks dividing people.

We applaud you for the peace structures that have been set up organically from among the people.

We applaud the activists, religious leaders, traditional leaders and ordinary men and women who immediately rallied to calm the tensions and have sanity prevail.

We applaud those who rallied to protect their neighbours and to make our streets safe for everyone whatever their race.

We express our gratitude to the organizations which came forward with medical assistance, trauma counselling and food support in the days following the distressing events of July.

Those structures have worked closely with national, provincial and local government departments in ensuring that all the necessary remedies are put in place.

We are aware of the continuing work of NGOs, the Department of Justice and Ethekwini Municipality to respond to the needs of victims of violence.

Like the proverbial Phoenix rising from the ashes we must rebuild of communities and our economy.

Covid-19 and the distressing events of July have devastated our economy and society.

Poverty, inequality and unemployment has risen to crisis levels.

We must work together to pull our country back from the brink.

We must work together for social cohesion, inclusive growth and mutual prosperity.

The prognosis for the global economy is that very much more difficult times lie ahead.

We are however not a people to wallow in pity or distress. Crisis must be a clarion call to mobilize and summon our finest energies. We can rebuild working together.

In defeating apartheid, we have shown the world the art of the possible, of rising from centuries of division into a bold and courageous nation.

We must turn to each other. If we don't turn to each other, we will turn on each other.

In the work that has been already done in the partnership between community structures and government, peace and prosperity is a promise we must embrace.

Let us continue to strengthen those structures by active participation.

Let us work to strengthen local government by ensuring that we empower those who have worked among us in these distressing times.

The latest Global Peace Index report was released on 17 June 2021. Some of its findings are:

  • The average level of global peacefulness deteriorated by 0.07 per cent. This is the ninth deterioration in peacefulness in the last thirteen years.
  • A new wave of tension and uncertainty as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and rising tensions between many of the major powers.
  • The full impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on peacefulness is still unfolding. Growing unease with lockdowns and rising economic uncertainty resulted in civil unrest increasing in 2020.
  • Over 5,000 pandemic-related violent events were recorded between January 2020 and April 2021.
  • Violence is seen as the biggest risk to daily safety in 49 of the 142 countries in the risk poll. Over 50 per cent of people in Afghanistan, Brazil, South Africa, Mexico, and the Dominican Republic see violence as the greatest risk they face in their daily lives
  • The five countries with the largest proportion of people who experienced violence or know someone who had are all in sub-Saharan Africa. Namibia has the highest rate in the world, at 63 per cent, followed by South Africa, Lesotho, Liberia, and Zambia
  • The economic impact of violence to the global economy in 2020 was $14.96 trillion in purchasing power parity (PPP) terms. This figure is equivalent to 11.6 per cent of the world's economic activity (gross world product) or $1,942 per person. The economic impact of violence increased by 0.2 per cent during 2020.

In KwaZulu-Natal, we are still counting the financial cost in billions and untold human suffering it brought on people. Families lost their loved ones. Some, like here in Phoenix, were not a threat to anyone's safety or property. We must not take these wounds for granted and we must remain seized to heal them.

The overwhelming majority of South Africans want a peaceful country where they can raise their children in conditions of peace, comfort, security.

They want a country that accords respect for human life and property. Our government has every desire to maintain our country's standing as a hospitable nation that welcomes visitor and investors. We can never be proud as a country and a province to be known globally as one of the most violent countries in the world.

We must be concerned that past global reports and indices on peace and violence put Cape Town, Durban, and Pietermaritzburg as among the most violent cities in the world. Everybody must come on board to help our nation get rid of the culture of violence itself that has its roots in our violent past of colonialism and apartheid.

Tough policing, tougher legislation, and long sentences alone will not get rid of the deep seated roots of violence. We need to return to the source and begin to promote the sanctity of human life in our families and communities. And the people of KZN must rise to embrace peace as the only way to their development and prosperity.

During heritage month, we challenge South Africans to take a leaf in history to find examples of legendary peaceful protests that changed the world. When they do so, they will learn about Gandhi and his tradition of Satyagraha which influenced the ANC and the shaped India's liberation struggle against the British.

In the 60th year when Inkosi Albert Luthuli became the first African to receive the Nobel Peace Prize, we must also be inspired by the popular, mass Defiance Campaign under Chief Albert Luthuli in 1952-53 which was influenced by the traditions of non-violent protest by the South African Indian Congress. Even the civil rights movement led by Dr Martin Luther King Jr in the US was inspired by this powerful tradition of non-violent mass protest. Leaders in these successful resistance campaigns did not say burn everything into ashes and build from scratch.

The appreciation that peace is the only way is even more crucial to today's youth since the terrain of struggle, unlike in 1976 and the eighties, has fundamentally changed demanding that our youth, in their militancy and activism, become even more creative when they exercise their right to protest.

Today, unlike in the past, South Africa belongs to all of them. To burn community assets and destroy social infrastructure is no different from committing suicide while wasting limited public funds. Today's youth in particular carry a special responsibility to be champions of peace and non-violence since it is them who are going to inherit this country.

After 342 years of violent colonial and dehumanising apartheid oppression, South Africa's developmental challenges remain complex, multi-layered, and unique. When the architects of our freedom embraced a negotiated, peaceful settlement in 1994, they understood that protracted conflict and the unending spilling of innocent blood was not in the best interest to speedily bring apartheid on its knees; and to begin the more difficult task of forging national unity, building peace, as well as reconstruction and development.

The ANC-led Congress Alliance and Mass Democratic Movement always extolled the virtue of peace. In the context of the arms race and serious threats to global peace and the sovereignty of nations, the drafters of the Freedom Charter included the clause, 'There Shall Be Peace and Friendship'.

The clause states that, 'Peace and friendship amongst all our people shall be secured by upholding the equal rights, opportunities and status of all.' The ANC's CJ Mayekiso and Rev DC Thompson, a radical Marxist priest and leader of the South African Peace Council, are among those who contributed to the peace clause and were scheduled to lead the discussion on its adoption in Kliptown in 1955.

We remember too that the peaceful Congress of the People campaign which collected the Freedom Charter demands took nearly two years and was driven by many young people. Moosa 'Mosie' Moola who was part of the Secretariat had just turned 21 years old during the adoption of the Freedom Charter. Dorothy Nyembe was only 24 years old, Billy Nair 26 years old during the adoption of the Freedom Charter. Ben Turok, who led the discussion on the economic clause, 'The People Shall Share in the Country's Wealth' actually turned 28 years on the 26 of June 1955 during the adoption of the Freedom Charter in Kliptown.

At this historical juncture, we look to the youth to also develop creative, dynamic, and viable campaigns to bring lasting peace in our country. A pro-poor, human rights-based social ethos and sustainable development is dependent on achieving lasting peace and entrenching it as part of our social fabric. And the ANC has been blessed to have in its ranks national and global icons that have always championed peace, development, and justice.

On the 10th of December 1993 ANC President Nelson Mandela, jointly received with National Party leader, FW De Klerk, the Nobel Prize for Peace in Oslo, Norway. Two other South Africans had earlier received the honour - ANC President Chief Albert Luthuli and freedom stalwart and Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

Mandela asserted that the value of the honour had to be measured by the happiness and welfare of the South African children. He said: 'the children must, at last, play in the open veld, no longer tortured by the pangs of hunger or ravaged by disease or threatened with the scourge of ignorance, molestation and abuse, and no longer required to engage in deeds whose gravity exceeds the demands of their tender years.' He proclaimed: 'Let a new age dawn.' And embedded in his vision of the new dawn was 'the renewal of our world so that none should, in future, be described as the wretched of the earth.'

In KwaZulu-Natal we have declared poverty as public enemy number one, and we fully support President Ramaphosa's vision that in a generation South Africa must proscribe poverty to the dustbin of history.

Our province has crafted the ambitious KwaZulu-Natal Reconstruction and Transformation Plan to reignite our economy, create jobs, and fight hunger. But our bold plan will remain a pipedream or partially realised if we fail to achieve a broad consensus and forge a social compact with our citizens and stakeholders, including big business and labour, to accelerate inclusive growth and radical socio-economic transformation.

One of the challenges that will risk economic development in KwaZulu-Natal and other parts of the country is the rising social discord, crime, and violent protests. In the minds of the public, KZN is increasingly becoming synonymous with images of violence and destruction of life and property.

It was ANC President Dr Dube who said, 'Isitha somuntu uye uqobo lwakhe', meaning that man can become his own worst enemy. Martin Luther King Jr also cautions us that we must learn to live together as brothers and sisters or perish together as fools. Everybody must lend a hand to put an end to this dangerous habit that is sabotaging our growth and development

In our homes, schools, social clubs, on the factory floor, and boardrooms - everywhere - we must speak with one voice that the destruction of clinics, burning of schools, blockading of roads, sabotaging municipal infrastructure during strikes, and setting alight factories and businesses - as we saw in 2019 KwaSithebe at Mandeni and now recently in July has no place in KwaZulu-Natal and indeed in our country.

We make a special appeal to our media to lend a hand and work with us in developing messages and campaigns that will discourage lawlessness and the sabotage of our development. It can never be correct that to get a bridge or a road or a raise in salary, protesters should destroy public assets.

Our schools, learners, and teachers are crying for peace and we need evidence- based research that will tell us what we need to do now to exorcise violence, bullying, sexual abuse, and murder at our schools.

We must intensify our efforts to promote positive social values and build a model citizen in partnership with the KZN Social Cohesion and Moral Regeneration Council which we launched in July 2019.

We call also on all our artists, writers, performers, and local icons to play their part in generating messages, songs, artworks, theatre, and campaigns that will help root out the endemic culture of violence in our nation.

We must inculcate this message of peace to the point that each morning every citizen of KZN asks himself or herself what will be their contribution to building and sustaining it.

Big business carries a responsibility to partner with government and civil society to grow the economy, create jobs, and offer business opportunities to the majority that was historically excluded. As partners in national development, we expect business to contribute resources to support the provincial peace and social cohesion initiatives.

Peace and enduring stability is good for business and the future we share. A former American slave, Frederick Douglass, has an important warning for all of us. He said: Where justice is denied, where poverty is enforced, where ignorance prevails, and where any one class is made to feel that society is an organised conspiracy to oppress, rob and degrade them, neither persons nor property will be safe.

It does not have to be this way.

It is in our hand to make sure, as Mandela wished, that 'the children must, at last, play in the open veld, no longer tortured by the pangs of hunger.'

Let us make peace our only way and justice our daily creed.

And let a new age of shared prosperity dawn upon the beautiful face of our land.

While we march together to build peace, unity and social cohesion we must be mindful that we are in the midst of a global pandemic.

Covid-19 is real. Covid-19 is infecting our people and taking lives everyday.

We must minimally follow the health protocols of masking, sanitizing and social distancing.

Most importantly we must vaccinate. Vaccination is not a guarantee against Covid-19 but it will reduce the severity if we become infected and drastically improve our chances of survival.

KwaZulu-Natal has conducted just over 2.2 million vaccinations.

We must meet the target of population immunity.

The Department of Health is now bringing the vaccinations to our taxi ranks, shopping centres, schools and other nearby facilities. When we vaccinate we protect ourselves. We also protect those around us - our loved ones and colleagues.

Being unvaccinated means that we can easily infect others close to us if we contract Covid-19. Let us each be responsible for our health and protecting those close to us.

Vaccinate today. Do not let another day go by. Life and time is too precious to wallow in doubt.

Let us express our gratitude to each of you who have come together to march for peace. This is a symbolic act but much more work lies ahead in sustaining the peace .

We are stronger together.

We can be a more prosperous society working together.

Let us rebuild a peaceful society and a prosperous economy together.

Let freedom reign.

Let peace reign and let it be our only way of living.

Together Growing KwaZulu-Natal!

I thank you.