The FW de Klerk Foundation writes regular articles on topical issues, supports language and cultural rights and participates in the national debate on racial and cultural issues. The Foundation also promotes communication by holding conferences and workshops.
The FW de Klerk Foundation will dedicate its 2019 Annual Conference on Friday, 1 February, to one of the most critical challenges confronting the nation, inequality. Election years, with their promises and platitudes, have not addressed this grave issue. The Foundation will reflect on this matter but also go further and ask the vital question, “What is to be done?”
Inequality in South Africa is stubbornly high and has over the last 24 years grown increasingly persistent. A 2018 World Bank report aptly sums up the triple challenge confronting the country including, “high poverty, high inequality and high unemployment”. While there is no quick fix to these challenges, the fact of the matter is that if we as a country do not address this deep-rooted problem effectively, we will not be a peaceful, prosperous and harmonious society. In addition, striving for equality is one of the basic mandates of our Constitution.
The University of Pretoria (UP) successfully won a court challenge against its “English only” language policy in December 2016. Since then, it prepared the way for this policy to be implemented. Last week, the UP found it necessary to announce that from this year, all first-year students will only be taught in English. This is not new, as the decision was already taken almost three years ago.
Nevertheless, the statement by the UP warrants analysis and commentary, for three significant reasons. Firstly, the media statement made by the UP’s spokesperson, Rikus Delport; secondly the comments by the newly-appointed Vice-Chancellor, Prof Tawana Kupe; and thirdly the tweet on the issue by the Minister of Finance, Tito Mboweni (being a former Chancellor of the former University of the North-West in Mafikeng).
It is a great pleasure once again to address the Cape Town Press Club.
In the course of my speech I shall endeavour to revisit the remarkable process that culminated 25 years ago in the fundamental constitutional transformation of South Africa.
I shall examine how we have fared since then in advancing the values on which our Constitution and our new society have been founded. And, on the eve of critically important national elections in May this year, I shall briefly assess our prospects for the next 25 years.
Now, 25 years later, we South Africans are inclined to forget our historic achievement in successfully managing the fundamental transformation of our society from rule by the white national minority to genuine non-racial constitutional democracy.
The media is replete with reportage on commissions and inquiries currently underway in South Africa, all intent on unearthing the truth - the truth about State capture and corruption (Zondo Commision), the truth about the fitness of two top officials in the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) to hold office (Mokgoro Commission), the truth about tax administration and governance at SARS (the Nugent Inquiry) and the truth about the PIC, Africa’s largest asset manager (the Mpati Commission).
President Cyril Ramaphosa did indeed provide relief to a nation fatigued by corruption, capture and abuse of public funds by setting up or boosting these commissions of inquiry within nine months of his assumption of duties. He committed to cleaning up SARS, seeking new leadership at the NPA and at several State-owned enterprises (SOEs) including Eskom, PRASA, the SABC, Denel, and Transnet. He committed to unearthing the truth and setting the country on the right track.
The FW de Klerk Foundation - in partnership with the Konrad Adenauer Foundation - invites you to attend our Annual Conference. Our theme for 2019 is: “Addressing Inequality”.
The FW de Klerk Foundation annually hosts a conference on 2 February in Cape Town (this year's event falls on Friday, 1 February), to coincide with the announcement in Parliament in 1990 of the release of Nelson Mandela and other prisoners and the unbanning of several organisations. Each year the conference tackles a topical theme, with input from a diverse range of influential speakers. Previous speakers include former President Kgalema Motlanthe, Justice Albie Sachs, Dr Mathews Phosa, Ms Rhoda Kadalie, Prof Frans Viljoen, Mr Sipho Pityana, Adv Jeremy Gauntlett, Mr Johann Rupert and former President FW de Klerk.
The FW de Klerk Foundation, its Board of Trustees and its staff members, want to wish all our subscribers and supporters a prosperous and fulfilling 2019. We hope that you will be happy and blessed in both your professional and personal lives.
2019 is shaping up to be particularly exciting year and as usual, South Africans will not be bored! However, certain events on the national calendar, as well as the Foundation’s own calendar, make 2019 a special year.
In June, the Foundation will be celebrating its 20th year of existence, with a special event marking this milestone. More details will be released later, but it promises to be exceptional. The mission of the Foundation - to promote and protect the Constitution - remains of vital importance.
The FW de Klerk Foundation announces the departure of Ms Phephelaphi Dube from her position as Director of the Centre for Constitutional Rights (CFCR), as from December 2018. Ms Dube is leaving to pursue an academic career. The Foundation is grateful for the excellent work that Ms Dube has done for the Centre and the Foundation in the last five years. We would like to wish Ms Dube every success with her future career and are sure that she will make a very positive contribution in her new role. The Foundation will make an announcement in 2019 about the advertisement for a new Director to continue the tradition that Phephelaphi and her predecessors have established
The Employment Equity Amendment Bill, now before Parliament, is the latest move in a long process that is progressively diminishing the economic space within which minorities can operate.
It is, of course, essential that the economy must be open to all South Africans at all levels - but this can be achieved far more effectively through natural economic evolution and by prohibiting unfair discrimination than by imposing a system in which appointments, promotions and tenders are based on race rather than on individual merit and effort.
The Amendment Bill will give the Minister of Labour the power to establish sectoral numerical targets to ensure “equitable representation of suitably qualified people from designated groups (black South Africans, women and persons with disabilities) at all occupational levels in the workforce.” “Designated employers” - i.e. those that employ more than 50 people - will have to ensure that the “numerical goals” in their employment equity plans comply with the applicable sectoral numerical target.