Zuma slams runaway fathers
President Jacob Zuma has slammed runaway fathers, saying poverty shouldn’t be an excuse for men not to take care of their offspring.
Delivering his annual address at the official opening of the National House of Traditional Leaders (NHTL) in Parliament today, Zuma said a father’s presence has a positive effect in a child’s life chances, academic performance, social wellbeing and emotional wellbeing.
“The proportion of fathers who are absent but living increased from 41.6% to 47.4% between 1996 and 2010,” Zuma said.
Quoting Census 2011 results, he said African children had the lowest proportion of present fathers at 31.1%, while Indian children have the highest at 83%. White children followed closely behind at 80.8% and, among coloured children, the proportion was 53%.
“Poverty, high rates of unemployment and financial constraints may contribute to large numbers of fathers failing to take responsibility for their children. However, this should not be an excuse,” Zuma said.
He said nothing stops a father from loving and caring for his children, even if he is poor.
“We salute all the mothers who raise children alone, under difficult circumstances,” he said to loud applause.
In a wide-ranging speech, Zuma asked traditional leaders to make land reform their business and agriculture look cool and attractive.
“We are conscious of the fact that years of land deprivation, reinforced by land dispossession laws such as the Land Act of 1913 and later apartheid laws, have deprived generations of our people of the skills necessary to survive out of agriculture,” he said.
Zuma said the state of affairs over generations made South African youth develop a grim view of agriculture.
He reiterated his call during the state of the nation address that government was considering allowing those who were dispossessed of ancestral land before 1913 to also obtain justice.
However, Zuma warned communities that choose money over land, asking traditional leaders to assist government in encouraging those who get their land back to use it and not resell it.
“Selling the land, at times back to the previous ‘owner’, defeats the purpose of changing land ownership patterns,” he said.
Zuma said reversing land dispossession must be undertaken in a manner that corrects the injustice, while also promoting agricultural stability and food security.
The president also blamed the country’s culture of violence on apartheid, saying the oppressive system could only be sustained through violence and that violence became entrenched in South Africa.
“We also dare not portray our beautiful country as an inherently violent place to live in,” Zuma said.
He said South Africa, like all countries, had elements that conduct themselves in a shocking and unacceptable manner.
Zuma asked traditional leaders to work with his government and other sectors to rebuild the moral fibre of our society.
He blamed apartheid for putting immense pressure on African families.
“Inequality according to race also remains rampant,” he said, quoting Census 2011 results that show that white households earn six times more than African households.
“The average annual African household income is R60 613 and the one of the white households is R365 164. Close to 1.9 million African households reported no income at all,” Zuma said.
NHTL chairperson Kgosi Pholopontsho Maubane promised Zuma that the concerns he raised would be include in its programme.