Source: The Presidency
Title: SA: Motlanthe: Address by the Deputy President of South Africa, at the 46th conference of the South African Jewish board of deputies, Johannesburg
Programme Director and the National Director of the SA Jewish Board of Deputies, Wendy Kahn;
Chief Rabbi, Dr Warren Goldstein;
Ministers, Deputy Ministers and MECs
Minister of Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs, Yuli Edelstein
Ambassador of Israel, Dov Segev-Steinberg
Ambassador of the USA, Donald Gips
Members of Parliament
Chairperson of the SA Jewish Board of Deputies, Zev Krengel;
Your excellencies, members of the diplomatic corps;
Distinguished guests; and
Ladies and gentlemen:
I thank you most sincerely for inviting me to address this 46th Conference of the South African Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD).
We appreciate this opportunity to again reflect our collective responsibility for building a united, democratic, non-racial, non-sexist, just and prosperous South Africa.
This philosophical framework continues to guide us in this massive task of building a post-apartheid society and imposes on all of us, government, civil society, business, religious and cultural organisations, a responsibility to build social partnerships with an eye to the swift realisation of a better life for all our people, irrespective of race, gender or religion.
It is a framework informed by nationhood composed of people who originate from various parts of the world who have brought with them values and cultures that have over the years been blended into a cultural melting pot that today makes us all South Africans united in our diversity.
Informed by these principled values of respecting the right to culture and heritage, I dare say that, outside of the state of Israel, South Africa is one of the countries in the world where the Jewish community can practice its faith and culture without any remark.
This is reflective of the evolution of our nation as a microcosm of the community of nations.
It is therefore the responsibility of all of us to jealously guard this unity and diversity.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Our anti-apartheid history teems with glorious actions drawn from various nation groups that have made immeasurable personal sacrifices in order to defeat apartheid and in its place create a new, human-centred society.
An essential part of continuing their legacy and our progress in national liberation, and the enjoyment of the ideals enshrined in our constitution, is dependent on our ability to eradicate the twin challenge of poverty and unemployment.
As you will know, in material terms, democratic South Africa is still enmeshed in the legacy of apartheid, which shows itself in different ways.
One of these manifestations of our deplorable past is the continuation of racism, which expresses itself in our social, economic and political lives, in different forms.
The everyday experience of the majority of South Africans still posits reflections of institutionalised racism and exclusion when it comes to infrastructure development and income inequalities; essentially our country is still reeling from the impacts of colonialism and imperialism in terms of the infrastructure backlogs that other countries on the periphery face.
While we have made significant progress on transformation through legislative and policy change these have not translated to equal development for all.
Even 17 years since the demise of apartheid, our society is ordered in a way that ownership and control of wealth in still to the exclusion of the majority.
It is for this reason that we seek to build a national democratic society that is founded on a thriving economy which fully exploits its natural endowments and the creativity that a skilled population can offer.
Drawing from the examples of social cohesion and successes within business, medicine, law, property development and other fields represented within the Jewish Board of deputies we hope you will help inculcate and share these experiences and skills to help develop the rest of the toiling majority of our nation.
The list of our national needs is long and daunting and we need to grapple with immediate challenges such as:
• Building a single, efficient, safe, integrated and coordinated public transport system for all communities.
• Creating decent Work opportunities, sustainable livelihoods and building an adequate skills base that can respond to the needs of the economy.
• Using the services and tourism sectors as key players for strong growth, infrastructure development and job creation.
• Securing energy and electricity for the future.
• Local beneficiation of our mineral resources.
• Rural development and agrarian reform, the provision of social and economic infrastructure and the extension of government services to rural areas.
The challenges are many but I am confident that the Jewish Board of Deputies will continue to join efforts for growth and job creation as the main artery to that forms the life-line to our shared future as South Africans.
We have recently seen around the world how disgruntled youth have participated in spontaneous revolution because governments have not provided them with hope of a better future; while at the same time minority class groups continue to flaunt their wealth through conspicuous consumptive culture.
Our country is not insulated from these challenges especially because we have close to 2.8 million young people between ages of 18-24 that are unemployed and not in any institution of learning.
This statistic represents the ticking time-bomb that threatens to aflame pent-up emotions within the youth if not urgently addressed.
In the face of this, there is bound to be imperviousness to rational debates on development and these will eventually entrench the feelings of despondency and apathy because we would have failed to equip youth with alternatives.
Until we all work together to mentor, educate and train the youth they will remain without hope for a better future.
It is therefore important that we understand the current youth unrests as a bellow of hungry calls for development, which we must address forthrightly and without delay.
I believe that the South African Jewish board of deputies is well positioned to help us answer some of these challenges because of the skills, knowledge and influence your members wields as significant role players in the South African economy.
In this regard the government has set itself the objective to create a better life for all through five (5) priorities; which are Education, Health, the fight against crime and corruption, job creation and rural development.
Education remains central to our developmental agenda and the goal of building a prosperous, stable and cohesive society.
In turn education provides the bedrock upon which we can realise of our development objectives.
With this in mind we have linked education and skills training as the core part of our New Growth Path in enabling employment and job creation.
It is for this reason that we have developed a Human Resource Development Strategy to ensure that we systematically strengthen the skills and human resource base of our country through a system of further education and training.
The success of this strategy is dependent on all role players in human resource development from government, civil society, organised business, organised labour, professional bodies and research communities reinforcing and complementing each other in skills development programs. We hope that this program will receive support from those of you who are professionals.
We also believe that, given your experience in developing an independent schooling system, the Jewish Board of Deputies can share and contribute immensely to our education improvement objectives through teacher training and other mentoring activities, especially at the early childhood development stage as these are the critical and formative ages for the education of children.
We are also looking to your contribution through our business-adopt- a-school program to help uplift poor performing schools in rural and township communities. This can also be done at schools level through school-to-school partnerships via mentoring, cultural exchanges and sports programmes.
We urge you to find ways and platforms through which you can contribute to the other priorities mentioned.
As a nation we will continue to have multiple identities based on race, class, gender, age, language, geographic location, religion, and so forth. Such diversity should feed into an overarching national identity that moulds us into who we are as South Africans.
I am certain that this Conference will contribute to the common national effort to further transform our motherhood into the peaceful and prosperous country we all want it to be.
Finally, I am confident that the Jewish Board of Deputies will continue contributing to the building of our country with the same determination, fully conscious that the future we are building belongs to all of us, as we say, the past, we inherit, but the future, we create.
Once more, I wish the 46th Congress of the South African Jewish Board of Deputies success.
Thank your kind attention.