President Zuma: Reconciliation is a two-way street

While the journey to reconciliation continues, South Africans must remember that it is a two-way process.

“While black people are implored to come to bury the pain of the past and move on, white compatriots should also be ready to accept and support the imperative of transformation and redress,” President Jacob Zuma said on Friday.

He was addressing the 2016 Reconciliation Day celebrations at Black Aces Sports Ground in Gopane, outside Zeerust, in the North West.

“The implementation of measures to deracialise the economy, such as Black Economic Empowerment, Affirmative Action and land reform remain critical for us to achieve true and meaningful reconciliation,” the President said.

He called on South Africans to drive these programmes together to rebuild the country.

“We should thus not regard reconciliation as an easy matter. It is profound and requires a lot of work by all of us. Today we must all recommit ourselves to walking this important journey together,” the President said, adding that this in the best interest of the country and generations to come.

Besides deracialising the economy and land reform, President Zuma said there was also the need to assist families that were directly affected by apartheid atrocities and those who lost their loved ones in order to ensure that they find closure and healing.

The programme of finding missing persons and handing over the remains of former political prisoners, who were executed by the apartheid government, to their families also continues.

At least 130 political prisoners were hanged for politically-related offences in the period between 1960 and 1990.

The State retained custody of the remains of the deceased, thereby denying their families the opportunity to receive or bury them.

Of the 130 hanged political prisoners, 47 have already been exhumed by other parties, groups or individuals.

The democratic government launched the Gallows Exhumation Project on 23 March 2016 at Kgosi Mampuru Correctional Centre in Pretoria to begin the exhumation of the mortal remains of 83 political prisoners.

This week, the remains of 12 Eastern Cape PAC members, who were executed in 1964 for the Mbashe River construction site incident, were exhumed at Rebecca Street Cemetery in Tshwane.

This leaves government with 71 remains to be exhumed.

President Zuma said reconciliation is also about providing support to those who sacrificed life’s comforts to free the country and its people. These groups include liberation armies such as Umkhonto weSizwe and the Azanian People’s Liberation Army or (APLA).

President Zuma said government is working hard to ensure that the socio-economic needs of former combatants are met, with the establishment of the Department of Military Veterans in 2014.

Before addressing the community, the President and his delegation, which included Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa, Communications Minister Faith Muthambi, State Security Minister David Mahlobo and Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Des van Rooyen, were welcomed with cheers from local residents, who packed the marque to full capacity.

Reconciliation in the North West

North West Premier Supra Mahumapelo, who welcomed the guests said the provincial government has introduced the Reconciliation, Healing and Renewal (RHR) programme, which allows residents to engage in dialogues aimed at creating awareness and affording targeted groups the opportunity to engage on issues of reconciliation and social ills.

The RHR programme is one of the five steps the provincial government has introduced to promote reconciliation among the people of the province in a concerted effort to achieve the goal of rebranding, repositioning and renewing the province.

“With this programme, the provincial government intends to infuse the spirit of peace and reconciliation through a consistent and intensive province-wide campaign,” said Premier Mahumapelo.

Minister Mthethwa said while forgiving is not easy, it needs to be done.

“Forgiving is not easy. Our nation is called upon to reach out and bridge the divide.”

Source: South African Government News Agency

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