Today we mark a day that binds together South Africa’s diverse and complex history. The Day of Reconciliation reminds us that the story of South Africa and her people has many, often contradictory, chapters that tell a story of where we have been and the great things we have yet to achieve together. Despite our different races, cultures, religions, sexes and languages, the common vein that runs through us all is that we are South Africans.
While 2016 has seen a greater focus on our differences, I do not think that it is a true reflection of South Africa and the work that has been done in building bridges over the last 22-years. There are more among us who continuously work to ensure that our country’s motto of Unity in Diversity is not merely a phrase but a call to build a non-sexist, non-racial and united country for all people.
The late former President Nelson Mandela firmly articulated the programme of reconciliation by stating on a State Visit to Indonesia in 1997 that “These differences were misused by apartheid in order to divide our nation. But today our diversity is a source of strength. We are a nation of many colours and cultures, but forming a harmonious unity like a rainbow after a heavy storm.” The work of building a better South Africa can only be done when we realise that our differences do not divide us but bring us together and during the toughest of times we are better together.
The programme of reconciliation was reaffirmed during the August Local Government Elections, when those who used our differences to mobilise without articulating a clear message of hope and change were rejected in favour of a message that brought us together.
The Democratic Alliance remains the only party that actively works to bring together South Africa’s diverse people in order to build a nation based on the universal values of Freedom, Fairness and Opportunity, marked by the Rule of Law and the supremacy of the Constitution.
Well aware of the country’s past and awake to the need to realise the vision that was put place in 1994, we are working tirelessly to bring life to our Constitution which calls upon us to “Heal the divisions of the past and establish a society based on democratic values, social justice and fundamental human rights”.
On behalf of the DA, I would like wish all South Africans a beautiful and reflective Day of Reconciliation, where we recommit ourselves to building unity for a better South Africa.