End poverty to create real unity – Duarte
When the ANC became the governing party in 1994, it encouraged social cohesion as part of nation building.
But, almost 20 years on, South Africa is still battling to achieve this ideal.
Sabelo Ndlangisa discussed this matter with Jessie Duarte, the head of monitoring and evaluation in
the ANC’s presidency office.
How do you deal with issues of social cohesion in the ANC?
Our most important objective is the eradication of poverty.
We are a society still trapped geopolitically in the way the apartheid regime had organised social division.
You find that there are people of a particular race group still living in a particular area.
What creates social cohesion is when conditions in the society are such that people feel the freedom they have achieved also comes with a certain amount of economic freedom and complete dignity for themselves.
How would you describe the social fissures in our society?
We have a very distinct class base that is emerging and it’s no longer based on racial lines. We have a very rich class of people who are both black and white.
The fault line lies with how we are able as a society to address the question of poor people.
Can South Africans sustain the spirit of togetherness beyond national events?
What I find interesting is that when you have major events in this country, the class base of our division falls off completely.
Poor people need the support of every South African – that must be the common national goal, the eradication of poverty.
We need that goal that will rally us once more behind the flag.
Not at an event, but a process.
Is there a willingness to help from citizens who are better off?
I think there is in the majority of people.
However, we are also in a phase in our development where there are sectors of the middle class and the very wealthy who may feel they have gained it on their own.
One way of giving back is to look over your shoulder at people who have not reached the stage where you are, and by using your skills in South Africa to assist with the eradication of poverty.
How is the ANC developing a nonracial ruling party?
The ANC is a non-sexist and a non-racial organisation, but we also live in a country where the majority are black people.
The reality is that in any democratic state people will represent people according to the numbers.
You are not going to find a quota of black, Indian, coloured and white people in the ANC.
People will support the overall objectives and policies of the ANC, joining the ANC at branch level.
How important is diversity at ANC leadership level?
What you have to accept and understand is that as we move forward more people who are not black will emerge.
One of the things that dissuades people is how the ANC is discussed in the media.
The fourth estate is the biggest opposition to the ANC and is fairly vicious.
It describes the ANC in its own terms.