#HumanRightsDay: Zuma urges all to work together towards a united SA

This year’s theme for Human Rights Day is ‘South Africans United Against Racism’.

President Jacob Zuma addresses a full house at the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban, 21 March 2016. Picture: @PresidencyZA

JOHANNESBURG - President Jacob Zuma has used his Human Rights Day address to speak out against racism in all its forms and urge unity.

Zuma was speaking at the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban this afternoon.

He also called for an end to xenophobia, and said it was important that South Africans respect the rights of others.

The president made reference to the public outrage triggered by racist social media posts earlier this year.

In his written speech President Zuma said, "Our country experienced explosions of anger due to racist utterances and writings, which reminded South Africans that the vestiges of white supremacy and racism still exist in some sections of society."

He added that there was a long way to go before South Africans can say they have successfully reversed the impact of institutionalised racism in the country.

He has urged all South Africans to work together towards what he calls a 'new society'.

Zuma said a lot had been done since 1994 to promote non-racialism and unity, but said discrimination was still prevalent in society and government would remove it wherever it occurred.

He said government was determined to reverse the systemic racism of the past, wherever it occurred, saying the fight against the problem was ongoing.

The president also said ending economic marginalisation was key as this will open up control and ownership to black entrepreneurs.

President Zuma called on South Africans to unite against discrimination and the tendency to downplay accusations of racism in memory of the 69 people who died in Sharpeville in 1960.

This year's theme for Human Rights Day celebrations is 'South Africans United Against Racism'.


Meanwhile, Amnesty International says while South Africa has taken great strides in ensuring everyone's rights are protected, it has also digressed on this path.

Today, 56 years ago, 69 people were killed and 180 wounded by apartheid police in Sharpeville during a peaceful protest against the Pass laws.

The non-governmental organisation's Tracy Doig says the country has taken great strides in the protection of human rights since the 1960 killings in Sharpeville.

"What we see is a Bill of Rights and a Constitution that protects human rights for everybody in the country, whether they be citizens or not, and we see a lot of very progressive laws and policies in place."

However, Doig says there is still a big disconnect in what is enshrined in the Constitution and the lived experiences of many citizens.

"Unfortunately, there really is a disconnect between the Bill of Rights and the Constitution, and many of the laws that exist in the country and the reality for the majority of people in the country."