AFRICANGLOBE – Africans, Indians, Chinese, midgets, gays and coloureds were deemed to be Black in terms of the affirmative action policy which is aimed at redressing the economic imbalances of apartheid, President Jacob Zuma said.
“All our policies are informed by our correct appreciation of the racialised history of our country. This is contrary to those who speak about an open society and equal opportunities without first addressing the damaging effects of more than 300 years of deliberate economic exclusion of Black people,” Zuma told the audience at the 124th Annual Mount Edgecombe Easter Festival.
“When we conceptualise policies such as affirmative action, broad-based Black economic empowerment, Employment Equity Act and others, we proceed from the understanding that we need to correct the injustices of the past meted out against Africans, Indians, coloureds and women,” he said.
“We pride ourselves on our track record of non-racialism and in particular the unity of the oppressed. During our struggle for liberation, Indians, coloureds and Africans as Black people shared a common fate. The liberation of one group was inextricably linked to that of the other. In other words, in the context of the struggle for freedom, Indian people just like the coloured people, have always been part of the oppressed Black majority. Let me emphasise that our bias towards the Indian, African and coloured people all of whom are Black is not meant to polarise society but is the most decisive intervention towards redress and social cohesion,” he said.
He said White compatriots must never feel excluded in the important project of building a non-racial, non-sexist, prosperous and democratic South Africa.
“Working together for the past 20 years, we have managed to educate all our people to value diversity rather than see it as a source of division,” he said.
Zuma said the ANC had succeeded in building a nation with an overarching national identity and which celebrates diverse cultures, religions, sexual orientation, skin colours and ethnic groups.
The address ahead of the Easter long weekend and the coming May 7 elections, also saw Zuma reiterating his message that 20 years into governance, the ANC had a “good story” to tell the nation.
“We have a good story to tell. Our country is a much better place to live in now than it was before 1994. For that we are thankful to millions of South Africans for working with the ANC and its government, to bring about the change and transformation we see today,” he said.
He criticised those who tried to racially divide South Africans.
“Therefore, the Indian community have never been mere auxiliaries in the struggle for freedom as may be suggested by some whose sole intention is to divide the Black majority for political expediency. Since the inception of democracy in 1994, we have implemented policies whose main objectives are to create jobs, eliminate poverty and reduce inequality,” he said.
Zuma said the ANC government would in the next five years relentlessly pursue these policies in order to ensure that the economy truly reflected the demographics of the country.
He said that the ANC was the only organisation capable of correcting the imbalances of the past.
“The ANC is the only movement with the necessary commitment, experience and capacity to resolve this issue in the interest of Black people,” he said.
Zuma said despite progress to ensure economic redress and broad based Black economic empowerment, much more remained to be done as indicated by the recent report released by the Commission for Employment Equity which showed that representation of Black people in top management positions had only grown from 23.7% to 33.2% over the last 10 years.
By: Sarah Evans