25 Apr Langa Methodist Young Men’s Guild, 25 Apr
Speaking Notes by Deputy Minister Bulelani Magwanishe
Theme: The role of Christian Men (YMG) in Reclaiming Humanity in a Broken Society: 2nd Century Outlook”
I wish to express my deep gratitude for the privilege accorded to me in addressing this important body of Young Men’s Guilt (YMG).
Allow me to pass the greetings of the Deputy President who was supposed to honoured this occasion.
Because of his pressing schedule, unfortunately he could not be here.
This gathering takes place at a time when Africans from the neighbouring countries are subjected to fear, physical violence and displacement by their South African counterparts.
Over the weekend I visited my mother and she asked the following question, what has become of us?
This question came at a time when the country was experiencing sporadic attacks on and looting on businesses run by foreign nationals of African origin.
Khayelitsha, Soweto, Isipingo, Germiston and other areas became hunting grounds for xenophobic violence.
I did not have an immediate answer as a song titled “When we were Kings” by Brian McNight came to mind.
The singer captured what would have been the response to the old lady’s question when he says;
“In every soul, there is a memory, of standing tall, the proudest we could be. I cannot fall, for I recall, we were born in majesty”.
The old lady did not understand the behaviour.
There was nothing majestic about it that defined the beauty of this country and her people.
There was nothing in the behaviour to show our linage to the plunging waters of the Victoria Falls, the Mount Kilimanjaro to the Table Mountain.
The pyramids of Egypt and to the Berbera seaside of Somalia.
As born in majesty, these are natural landmarks which inform the beauty of African.
The mere sight of them exposing the tranquillity which is supposed to define our African land.
The recent attacks were not warranted.
No normal community would accept them as normal and acceptable.
We are from a period where that tranquillity seemed a distance away from us.
We are from a time when we were forcefully separated from our majestic bond.
We cried, we fought and we conquered the first hurdle of getting closer.
History is rich with heroic deeds by young males and females of this country who relentlessly fought for liberation.
Some lost out on their studies, some lost their parents and some lost their lives while some suffered bodily harm.
Their battles were not to achieve some personal glory, but the glory of the downtrodden and poor.
In explaining that vision, OR Tambo when addressing at the Georgetown in 1987 and said “What we seek is to remake our part of the world into a corner of the globe on which all-of which all humanity can be proud of”.
Where are the men and women to lead us into our peaceful corner of the globe?
I agree we need to reclaim humanity and we need young men and women to lead us.
Where do we look for these young men and women?
The church has historically been a pillar of the struggle of our people.
The first democratic President of the country, Nelson Mandela expressed the connection between religion and community struggles when he said “Neither political nor religious objectives can be achieved in isolation”.
This is the connection between the church and the society.
We have heard and read about warnings for the church to refrain from politics.
South Africa is from a period where the church and clergy led struggles alongside politicians.
We had a generation of leaders which understood that matters of the socio-economic order did not just belong to the narrow politics.
This was a generation of leaders which was concerned about love and social justice.
History taught us of the role Arch-bishop Tutu played in providing moral leadership.
Bishop Trevor Huddleston, Allan Boesak, Frank Chikane, father Mkhatshwa etc.
At the height of apartheid, the church positioned itself as the voice of the voiceless and opposed racism and injustice.
Maybe a need to commit to the well-being of others at all levels and to understand ourselves in the world and to be creative in it may assist.
The above line is not foreign to you as gathered here.
This is the commitment made by all guilders and I think this should be extended to the entire society.
Our commitment to the well-being of others must be one based on a sense of duty and not merely on sympathy.
The Methodist church directs the members of the guild to be active and to function as servants of the community and the church.
Youths, women, the church and the church must be mobilised towards the same goal.
Commentators, teachers, priests and others have all encouraged and taught about love.
The scripture teaches us about the existence of other qualities that a man should possess.
We are taught that a man must be vigilant, sober, be of good behaviour, patient and given to hospitality.
Towards the end of the 19th century, the country saw the emergence of a leader, Mafukuzela John Langalibalele Dube.
He was a Reverend with the Congregation Church.
Though there existed deep racial inequalities even then, he believed that “the missionaries ought to get involved in the practical concerns of South Africans”.
This was not in defence of the white community, but a desire to have the people, black and white living in harmony.
He was a peaceful and hospitable African.
The tranquillity of Africa means also the ability to enjoy the beauty of Angola, Botswana, Mozambique, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
At another time, these countries were referred to as frontline states.
During the era of repression they pressured the apartheid government to unban political parties, free political prisoners and called for sanctions against the oppressive regime.
They sheltered us and fought with us so that we reach the corner of the globe where we all could be proud of.
The dawn of democracy in South Africa saw an influx of immigrants from all corners of the continent particularly the poverty and war ridden countries.
In many of these cases, it is largely male persons who would travel leaving the wives at home to seek work in South Africa.
Some would enter the country legally while others would employ illegal means thus increasing the number of immigrants, illegal immigrants and refugees.
The integration of this group into the society always has its challenges.
How do we react to this as a society? Do we chase them away and celebrate the hunger and killings in their countries?
In Deuteronomy 24:17, the book says “Do not deprive the foreigner or the fatherless of justice or take the cloak of the widow as pledge”.
Our recent history is synonymous with those males who left their families to seek greener pastures to support their families.
Our society grew to be defined not only by South African but also by the refugees and immigrants.
An informal integration had developed informed by us being Africans.
Through interaction we got to know and love one another.
That is what should define oneness.
In the book of Mark the Lord directs that you love your neighbour as you love thyself.
The very friends we have we got to know and then grew to love them.
The society is like that.
The humanity’s deepest needs have only the church as the bedrock of faith.
In as much as millions are outside the church buildings, the extent of faith within our people has been exposed many atimes before.
Many times we had taken decisions individually to satisfy individual urges, to protect an interest or gain an advantage etc.
Responsible citizens will always refuse the urge to impress.
What commits us as Africans is not just the skin.
But the mountains, the rains, winds and the sun.
Our people have always been their own liberators.
Together, we have been able to move the barriers of colour though more needs to be done still.
Now we must completely forge towards the eradication of racial, ethnic and gender barriers so that together we can work the economy.
South Africa is part of the broader world economy, sharing commitments with other countries of the world.
The country shares the commitments of the Millennium Development Goals to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger.
At home, the National Development Plan commits us to the elimination of poverty and reduction of inequalities.
Importantly in this regard is that these will be achieved by drawing on the energies of the people.
What do we mean by this?
We mean the capacity of the people to contribute in the economy as active participants.
The mobilisation of sectors of the economy is critical in building a strong economy.
More than 12 million of our people are dependent on small business for survival.
Means to close the inequality gap are being pursued with the Department of Trade and Industry leading the programme to develop a class of black industrialists.
This flow from our realisation of the role the manufacturing sector can play in improving the economic capabilities of the country.
To date R1 billion has been invested to support black-owned manufacturing companies.
The objective of this investment is to realise the creation of about 100 black industrialists.
Our success in achieving this is expected in turn, to benefit other small business with skills development and an understanding of procurement processes.
This therefore means that the government has a responsibility to direct them to centres capable of assisting them.
Transnet has set up a One-Stop-Shop (Hub) for small businesses in Sandton, Johannesburg.
The expansion of these hubs will see the increase of small businesses participating in the economy.
The Competitive Supplier Development Programme by Transnet and Eskom provides another platform for new and emerging suppliers to grow.
We understand the dangers of keeping an unemployed nation.
We understand the frustrations and the vulnerabilities that may result.
That is the reason the government is committed to improving the socio-economic situation of the country.
The creation of jobs remains one of the government’s key objectives.
The development of the South African state demands that we re-direct and heighten investment to South African youths’ participation in the mainstream economy.
This includes training and development leading to job creation for young people.
In 2012, Transnet committed to using a combination of set asides and procurement scoring methodologies to ensure an appropriately targeted procurement process.
For the period 2012 to 2019, Transnet had committed an amount of R7.7 billion on training of young people.
An amount of R4.7billion has been set aside for bursaries and grants over the same period.
Further, Transnet has invested over R18billion of her expenditure to go to youth owned businesses in rural areas and townships.
Eskom on the other hand had committed to spend over R24 billion a year on black youth owned businesses by 2017.
An amount of R10.5 billion has been reserved for youth owned businesses in a range of industries.
These include the national electrification project, vegetation management, coal mining, metering and wooden pole production.
Our success in creating trained and working communities will mean the reduction of poverty as well.
It is important that we invest in training that is designed to locate the African youth in the correct economic spot.
Unless young people begin to take advantage of opportunities presented by the government,
Until they begin to see themselves as leaders of society,
Until they begin to see themselves as protectors of women and children,
This nation requires your intellectual and moral leadership.
Here lies your response to the question of reclaiming humanity in a broken society.
Work together with the government. Your government.
I thank you