Swartruggens, Monday 14 March 2016 – Brand South Africa in collaboration with the Nelson Mandela Foundation and Operation Hydrate hosted an open dialogue at Swartruggens Combined School on Saturday 12 March 2016. Discussions looked at the culture of human rights in South Africa, before participants distributed hundreds of litres of water to the community of Borolelo, who are currently experiencing the effects of a severe drought.
The dialogue kicked off with a call by Operation Hydrate’s Yaseen Theba to all South Africans to stop criticising each other, the environment and the government for the challenges we face as a nation. “Instead, we all need to take action.”
This was echoed by social advocate Yusuf Abramjee who said: “This is exactly what the Play Your Part initiative is about – active citizenry, South Africans using their skills, time and resources to help each other. As citizens we need to see what we can do to tackle some of South Africa’s issues.”
The dialogue looked at, among others, issues around service delivery, education, equality and infrastructure challenges. Panellists included Mr Sean Moodley from the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation, Mr Sello Hatang, CEO of Nelson Mandela Foundation, Ms Tshegofatso Ramokopeloa from North West University, Councillor Victor Kgari, Ms Lerato Motaung from Civics Academy, Mr Yaseen Theba of Operation Hydrate, and Ms Jeanette Dibetso-Nyathi, a political advisor to the Premier of the North West.
In the 2016 State of the Nation Address President Jacob Zuma declared Human Rights Day, 21 March, to be the national day against racism.
It is against this background that the Nelson Mandela Foundation and the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation launched the Anti-Racism Network South Africa movement (ARNSA) which calls on all South Africans to pledge towards eradicating the scourge of racism in South Africa.
At the close of the dialogue all present took ARNSA’s pledge against racism. The CEO of the Nelson Mandela Foundation, Mr Sello Hatang, echoed the words of former President Nelson Mandela who said: “No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin, his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.” This is the spirit that South Africans must draw on.
Ms Lerato Motaung, project director of Civics Academy, said: “All sectors of society need to be committed to building a South Africa that the youth would be proud to inherit. To do so, we need to change the narrative. At present there is a focus on problems and problem-solving. This needs to shift to a discourse of building.”
Discussing the Constitution, Ms Tshegofatso Ramokopeloa, supervising attorney at North West University’s Community Law centre, said: “We need practice Ubuntu within ourselves … negativity starts and ends with us, as individuals …We need to use our skills, talents, time and resources to help each other – being selfish takes us away from democracy.”
Operation Hydrate describes their initiative as Ubuntu in action, as all the activities rely on volunteers who are committed to helping their fellow South Africans in need. Mr Theba said: “Water is a basic need as human beings. It is remarkable to see how many South Africans answered the call to help those worst affected by the drought.” Mr Theba also used the platform to announce that Operation Hydrate will be installing its first borehole in North West in the next month. “This is a more sustainable solution to help the community access water.”
Following the dialogue, all panellists accompanied the volunteers of Operation Hydrate to distribute 100 000 litres of water to residents of Borolelo in the North West.
Swartruggens is one of the towns most severely affected by the current drought, the worst in South Africa for 100 years. The town has been without water for eight months. Representatives from the Premier’s office and the Municipality committed to improving service delivery in the province, and outlined some of the measures currently being explored to provide a permanent solution to the water crisis the province faces.
Follow the conversation on #UniteSA #OperationHydrate