“True reconciliation cannot be achieved simply by forgiving and forgetting,” Zuma told a gathering on Dec. 16 in Port Elizebath, Eastern Cape to mark the annual National Day of Reconciliation.
True reconciliation must be accompanied by a deliberate collective resolve to deal with the material basis of social divisions such as poverty, landlessness, as well as economic inequality, Zuma noted.
“If we fail to do this, we will not succeed in uniting all our people regardless of race, class, religion, culture, language and other social constructions,” said the president.
One of the challenges is the assumptions that is made at times that reconciliation simply means the absence of vengeance and retribution, Zuma said.
South Africans, he said, have a collective responsibility to confront the misconceptions of reconciliation.
“We are still on the journey towards true reconciliation,” he said.
For obvious historical reasons, income distribution and growth is racially skewed in favour of white South Africans, with the African still at the bottom, according to Zuma.
The Census of 2011 stated that the income of the average white household remains six times than that of the average African household.
Figures confirm this stark inequality by putting the average annual African household income at about 60,000 rand (about 4,000 U.S. dollars) per annum, while that of the white household was put at more than 350,000 rand (about 23,000 dollars) per annum. Close to 1.9 million African households reported no income at all.
Zuma also pointed to the fact that very few companies on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange are black owned, indicating South Africa still has a long way to go.
“However, the good part is that we have programs in place to reverse the legacy of apartheid. Millions of people now have access to services that they did not have access to before such as water, electricity, housing, health, education and others,” said Zuma.
But he also emphasized that while South Africans have done a lot to transform and rebuild their country, they still need to do much more to promote healing.
“Building the physical landscape of the country is easier than building the soul of a nation,” he said. Enditem