Debate On Human Rights Day
Speech By MB Skosana MP
House Chairperson: Internal Arrangement


National Assembly : 25th March 2011

Tunisia, Egypt, Bahrain Yemen and Libya have happened as a direct result of the human response to the suppression and erosion of the fundamental rights and freedoms of the People of these Countries. So did Sharpeville and the subsequent uprisings in other South African Black Townships 51 years ago. The National Liberation project should be credited for putting in place a Constitution and Democratic Institutions that entrench, safeguard and guarantee all the Citizens rights and liberties. However, a critical social question persists, that of whether the Country is succeeding in harmonizing the prerogatives of the State with the rights and inherent dignities of all citizens.

The wise counsel has it that we are struggling to effect this harmony simply because we have ignored the divine national project initiated by the first President of a liberated South Africa, Mr. Nelson Mandela. As one of South Africa’s visionary leaders, Mr. Mandela believed that a post apartheid South Africa should first embrace and make National Reconciliation and Nation Building the cardinal pre-requisites to attain a peaceful and prosperous society, the one that will recognize, respect and uphold the fundamental rights and freedoms of all of South Africa’s diverse people. In his wisdom, Mr. Mandela was empirically convinced that our particular history of repression had left the people with a bitter legacy exhibited through their anger, hate, intolerance, suspicion and fear, and until these social demons have been exorcised from the entire body politic, the people will mill endlessly on the crossroads of mistrust, of accusation and counter accusation, devoid of peaceful families and communities. Today and as the consequences of our own intransigence, the Country faces widespread resurgence of racism, discriminatory practices and the possibility of permanent polarization of racial and ethnic groups.

We have turned on their heads some of the noble ideas coming out of the period of Enlightenment championed by the likes of John Locke, John Stuart Mill, John Rawls, Mahatma Gandhi and the Dalai Lama only to pursue the cause that inevitably perpetuates and deepens socioeconomic inequalities and injustices against the poor majority of our country men, women and children.

Karl Marx himself became sceptical of what he termed the “false messiahs of socialism” who confused the people because of their ambivalent economic policies. We have not been spared this ordeal ourselves.

The political and moral philosophy of UBUNTU/BOTHO, the quintessential guardian and protector of human rights and freedoms, handed down to Africans by among others, Nmandi Azikiwe, Kwame Nkrumah, Julius. Nyerere, Kenneth Kaunda, Credo Muthwa and many other African Philosophers and historians, we have today subverted, yielding to moral and political decadence, violence, crime and corruption eating away at the socioeconomic rights and dignities of citizens.

Our Country will have to undergo radical and painful paradigm shifts, compelling us to put Reconciliation at the Core of our public policies to take us beyond the dogmatic creed of past miracles and the fantasies of a rainbow nation. This way we will truly uphold the rights and freedoms of all our citizens and maintain confidence in the democratic institutions of the State. Therefore, this August House should seriously opt to become the Custodian and the Champion of the Project on National Reconciliation and Peace building to heal our land.

Mr MB Skosana, MP
House Chairperson: Internal Arrangement
National Assembly
Tel: 082 656 4138