Home arrow Speeches and Statements arrow Minister's Speeches arrow SOUTH AFRICAN STATEMENT DELIVERED BY THE ACTING DIRECTOR-GENERAL OF THE NATIONAL DEPARTMENT OF SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT, MS NELISIWE VILAKAZI, ON THE OCCASION OF THE 56TH SESSION OF THE COMMISSION FOR SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT, 30 JANUARY 2018, UNITED NATIONS, NY
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SOUTH AFRICAN STATEMENT DELIVERED BY THE ACTING DIRECTOR-GENERAL OF THE NATIONAL DEPARTMENT OF SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT, MS NELISIWE VILAKAZI, ON THE OCCASION OF THE 56TH SESSION OF THE COMMISSION FOR SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT, 30 JANUARY 2018, UNITED NATIONS, NY Print E-mail
Wednesday, 31 January 2018

Chairperson,

Excellencies,

Distinguished delegates

South Africa joins other Member States in congratulating you and the bureau on your election and wish to assure you of our unwavering support and cooperation during the this 56th Session.

South Africa also aligns herself with the statements delivered on behalf of the Africa Group and the Group of 77 and China.

The 56th Session of the Commission for Social Development coincides with the year that has been set aside by the South African Government to celebrate the life and legacy of the first democratically elected President of the Republic of South Africa, Isithwalandwe, Utata Nelson Mandela. Both the country and the citizens of the world will this year commemorate the centenary of Nelson Mandela’s legacy. In July this year, President Mandela would be turning 100 years; should he have lived.

President Mandela continues to inspire us all. I am reminded of the profound words on the occasion of receiving the Freedom Award from the National Civil Rights Museum, Memphis Tennessee, USA on 22 November 2000. He said, and I quote:

“Abject poverty is demeaning, is an assault on the dignity of those that suffer it. In the end it demeans us all. It makes the freedom of all of us less meaningful.”

Our commemoration of this world icon would be meaningless if we did not show empathy for our elderly, who continue to be the backbone of families and society at large. South Africa’s Older Persons Act, No. 13 of 2006, remains an important piece of legislation dedicated to the protection and promotion of rights of the older persons, whose violation is punishable by law. To this end, the South African government is committed to address challenges faced by older persons which include inefficient health-care and transport facilities to ensure quality life and that the elderly remain the most revered members of our communities.

We call on governments to enact and implement similar laws aimed at protecting the elderly from multiple and intersecting forms of abuse, in addition to the provisions stated in the 2002 Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing. South Africa and BRICS counterparts have already begun cooperation aimed at supporting the plight of their ageing population. To this effect, the 2018 BRICS Meeting on Population Ageing will be hosted in South Africa.

The importance of this Commission cannot be overemphasized, especially in the current global political climate; where discrimination as well as policies are promoted to socially exclude people based on their race, religion and place of origin to name a few. Our shared humanity as well as our universal principles and values as enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights; should drive our efforts when tackling global challenges, in particular, when dealing with vulnerable groups and people in vulnerable situations or who are marginalized. More than any other forum, this Commission understands the profound meaning and steadfast commitment of ‘leaving no one behind.’

Chairperson,

The slow recovery of the global economy continues to have a negative impact on the South African economy, especially in job creation. Our government is working with the private sector to ensure that the South African economy is geared towards job creation and poverty eradication.

More than other segments of our population, the South African youth remains largely excluded from the labor market due to skills shortage and a lack of opportunities amongst others. South African government is committed to its ongoing target and is working towards the realization of the provision of free education for all, with a priority for poor and vulnerable who are living in child and youth headed households. In the recent past, children and youth that have headed their households together with those that have been beneficiaries of the social security grants continue to be targeted to receive state funding in order to access and further their education in the institutions of higher learning.

This is part of government’s Radical Socio-Economic Transformation programme aimed at safeguarding the future of our country in pursuit of the goals of the National Development Plan. We also do this to reaffirm our commitment to expand our investment into the education of our children so as to break the intergenerational cycle of poverty.

In addition, we are heeding the call once echoed by our beloved struggle icon and the father of our democratic South Africa; former president Nelson Mandela, who once affirmed that; “education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world.”

We remain firm on our attitude against triple challenges of Poverty, Unemployment and Inequality. These triple challenges, in particular, poverty, are a deterrent to the wellbeing of children as well as when they transit to youth and ultimately into adulthood. Poverty robs them their human right to a standard of living adequate for their physical, mental, spiritual, moral and social development.

It also denies them of their right to protection from all forms of exploitation, violence and abuse. Unless the vicious cycle of intergenerational poverty is broken, children living in poverty often become adults who transmit poverty into next generation.

It is in this light that we have taken an approach that seeks to alleviate poverty through building active and sustainable communities based on social justice and mutual respect.

Our approach also seeks to change power structures in order to remove the barriers that prevent poor and vulnerable persons including women and children from participating on issues that affect their lives and development. To this end, our Government has adopted Sustainable Livelihoods that begin by profiling our households and communities through facilitated dialogues and lead to the development of specific intervention plans that are monitored and evaluated periodically.

As part of our Nine Point Plan, our government remains committed to community development which enhance our efforts to address poverty, unemployment and inequality. This is achieved by ensuring that vulnerable groups, in particular women and their families are linked with economic opportunities including access to services and skills resulting into potential socio-economic opportunities. To this end, cooperatives remain the most critical enablers for women to play their part in the main stream and local economy of our country.

Our government has achieved this objective by linking cooperatives to economic opportunities created through provision of social assistance, household food and nutrition security programmes; school uniforms, dignity packs and other new existing procurement opportunities.

It is through this approach that people can equally take full ownership and development of their lives which would in return; enable our country to achieve its national goals as outlined in the NDP.

Chairperson,

In addition, Vision 2030 of the NDP recognizes that most persons with disabilities are unable to develop their full potential due to multiple obstacles such as physical, information, communication and attitudinal barriers.

In simple terms, this means that ‘disability must be fully integrated into all facets of planning, keeping in mind that there is no one-size fits-all approach.

We continue to be guided by our obligations under South Africa’s Integrated National Disability Strategy, the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and its Optional Protocol, as well as our aspirations as set out in our NDP and the 2030 Agenda amongst others.

In September this year, South Africa will be privileged to present her Country Report before the UN Committee on the Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) in Geneva. This occasion will afford us an opportunity as a country to reflect on our national strategies on improved implementation of the provisions of the CRPD.

The promotion and protection of the rights of all persons with disabilities in South Africa remains a national priority. The first Annual Report on the implementation of the White Paper on the Rights of Person with Disabilities (WPRPD) was submitted to Cabinet for approval. This report focuses on the extent to which the WPRPD has been embedded in planning, budgeting, implementation and reporting across Government.

Chairperson,

The South African government remains committed to the principles outlined in the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) and the African Union (AU) Agenda 2063 as the continental blueprint for development and poverty eradication.

In conclusion, South Africa wishes to reiterate its commitment to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and further calls on the partners to provide assistance with reliable sources of means of implementation so that no one is left behind by 2030.

I thank you