ISSUE 07 | 2015
This week, South Africans all over the country shall observe the 60th Anniversary of the Freedom Charter. What was most outstanding about the Charter was the fact that it began, right in the womb of the most brutal system of racial tyranny in the 20th Century, to outline the future society that our struggle for national liberation was about. Never again would the struggle be merely AGAINST racial supremacy, but it would be FOR a non-racial, non- sexist, democratic and prosperous society. It is always easy to be against something; more difficult is to know what you are FOR!
The Freedom Charter is an outstanding document which spells out a timeless vision belonging to the ages of the type of society we should all, as a nation, strive for. None of the provisions spelt out in the Charter could be fulfilled without the Department of Home Affairs. The services our Department offers place it at the very epicentre of the Freedom Charter’s ideals and pursuit.
For all time to come, the people of our country, black and white, as they strive to better themselves and their country, both as individuals and as a collective, will take comfort in the knowledge that what they have to do is already well spelt out all in all its comprehensiveness. Only our collective folly or short-sightedness would cause us to betray this vision.
Some of the most outstanding South Africans of all races, genders, ages and religious affiliations – men and women of the most steadfast principles – were prosecuted in the course of the adoption of the Freedom Charter. They stood their trial, buoyed by their steadfast principles and the resolute support they enjoy among the overwhelming majority of South Africans, until the apartheid state conceded it could not sustain its case.
For six decades, the Freedom Charter has inspired millions of South Africans, generation after generation, to pursue the noble ideals it espouses, notwithstanding whatever
prosecution they had to suffer at the hands of those too short-sighted and ignoble to understand the promise of social justice contained in the Charter. Six decades since its adoption, the overwhelming majority of South Africans are still moved by the noble ideals of the Charter and still yearn to live in a socially-just society as promised in the Freedom Charter.
South Africa belongs to all who live in it, black and white, and that no government can justly claim authority unless it is based on the will of all the people and that, inter alia, only a democratic state, based on the will of all the people, can secure to all their birthright without distinction of colour, race, sex or belief.
In so proclaiming, the Freedom Charter repudiated the mandate of the Department of Interior of the past, in all its ramifications which classified and separated our people according to race and ethnic groups, and accordingly accorded some superior rights than others in the conduct of the affairs of the nation.
Some had a right to vote; whilst others did not. There was no democratic state because even though the minority voted for a government of their choice, so long as the majority were excluded from that process, there was no democratic state, the so-called “democratic vote” by the minority was a sham, the bantustans were toy-telephones and hence there was no government that could justly claim authority as the Freedom Charter had so boldly and aptly proclaimed sixty years ago.
Today, the birth certificates we offer South African children guarantee them access to their political and socio-economic rights as they grow up; the IDs we offer South Africans guarantees them access to their rights and responsibilities and today, no longer do we classify South Africans according to racial and ethnic groups, but we offer them documents which confer equality to all of them.
Every right conferred on our people by the Freedom Charter...
The People Shall Govern!
All National Groups Shall have Equal Rights!
The People Shall Share in the Country`s Wealth!
The Land Shall be Shared Among Those Who Work It!
All Shall be Equal Before the Law!
All Shall Enjoy Equal Human Rights!
There Shall be Work and Security!
The Doors of Learning and Culture Shall be Opened!
There Shall be Houses, Security and Comfort!
- There Shall be Peace and Friendship!
...depends on the Department of Home Affairs fulfilling its responsibilities to identify all South Africans, including those earning permanent residence and naturalisation, and awarding them the documents which enable them to access their rights and exercise their responsibilities within the democratic state.
Colleagues, the tasks before us are enormous. Peter Evans, an expert on the concept of the democratic state has said:
“Neither theorists nor practicing policy-makers can ignore the crucial role of state institutions in producing developmental success. History and development theory support the proposition ‘no developmental state, no development’. The idea of a developmental state puts robust, competent public institutions at the centre of the developmental matrix.”
Furthermore, he says:
“...a 21st century developmental state must be a ‘capability-enhancing state.’ Expanding the capability of the citizenry is not just a ‘welfare’ goal. It is the inescapable foundation of sustained growth in overall GDP.”
Fundamental to the Freedom Charter’s ideals is not merely the right of the people to vote and for the establishment of a democratic state, based on the will of all the people which can secure to all their birth-right without distinction of colour, race, sex or belief, but it is more than anything else the creation of a “capability-enhancing state” which would be the “inescapable foundation of sustained growth in overall GDP.”
It is in this light that all Home Affairs Officials must clearly locate our Department at the very centre of the development matrix. When we spelt out the five priorities of the Department during our Budget Vote – front-office improvement, modernisation, immigration policy review, the establishment of the Border Management Agency and the revitalisation of the ports of entry infrastructure – we were addressing ourselves directly to the question of building a capability-enhancing state.
It is important that all Home Affairs Officials – Baetapele – must engage in discussion forums about:
What is the significance and relevance of the Freedom Charter to us as a department?
What does it mean to be a Department of Home Affairs at the very centre of creating platforms for a “capability-enhancing state”?
If the Freedom Charter places our Department at the very centre of its pursuit, what must we do to be a platform for integrated e-governance?
We must accordingly accelerate the roll-out of our Moetapele campaign in order to enhance the capability of the citizenry to realise their full potential and pursue their ideals. In creating a democratic state, we seek to empower the citizenry to become the masters of their own destiny. Capability-enhancement is not merely about [the capabilities of] the state per se, it is about enhancing, more than anything else, the capabilities of the citizenry.
Front-office improvement is not therefore about simply cosmetic changes at our front-offices, it is effectively about improving the quality of our services in an effective manner led by a cadre of professional bureaucrats that understand their role and place in the public service and within the pursuit of citizenry empowerment.
At the same time, the Moetapele initiative is also about enhancing client experience at both the front-office and through back-office support through “capable, cohesive bureaucrats” (Peter Evans) who understand the centrality of the state in empowering the citizenry through its services.
Furthermore, the modernisation strategy is equally important in creating a platform of empowering the citizenry, for integrated and e-governance and for strengthening the capacity of the state. We must not treat the modernisation programme in a piece-meal fashion, as if it is simply about live capture, the national immigration system and other such programmes. We must view it in its broadest sense as an enabler of integrated and e- governance, job creation and small and micro-business development.
The Freedom Charter places the Department of Home Affairs at the centre of governance and administration, national security as well as economic development.
As well as what we have said above, it says:
“All shall be free to travel without restriction from countryside to town, from province to province, and from South Africa abroad”;
“Pass Laws, permits and all other laws restricting these freedoms shall be abolished”;
“South Africa shall be a fully independent state which respects the rights and sovereignty of all nations”;
“South Africa shall strive to maintain world peace and the settlement of all international disputes by negotiation - not war”; and
- “The right of all peoples of Africa to independence and self-government shall be recognised, and shall be the basis of close co-operation”.
These clauses provide clear injunctions for us as the Department as to how we must manage international migration, and what principles must guide us.
First and foremost, the Charter directs us to respect, honour and observe the rights of all the peoples of Africa to independence and self-government and to pursue close cooperation with our fellow African neighbours guided by these principles. In this regard, in outlining and pursuing the objectives of our international migration policy, we must seek to respect these rights of the peoples of Africa, remembering that the apartheid South Africa trampled on the national sovereignty and national self-determination of fellow African countries with impunity and was regarded as a threat to the peace and stability of the continent, particularly the SADC region.
Secondly, the Charter directs us to pursue and maintain world peace and the settlement of all international disputes by negotiation – not war. We, in South Africa, understand very well the implications of war, violence and instability in any African country in terms of the disruption of the socio-economic lives of the nationals of those countries, the spread of instability to neighbouring countries as well as the displacement of the nationals of those countries either internally or across the borders.
Our country has hosted many asylum-seekers and refugees from other countries on the continent, and continues to host many even to this day. Because of our generosity as a nation, our asylum systems have been and are being abused by economic migrants seeking regularisation in accordance with our laws. The successful pursuit of our international migration policies depends on an active and rigorous pursuit of our policies of international relations and cooperation.
As we extensively review our international migration policies, we must ensure that they are premised on clear principles which, on the one hand, balance economic development and national security imperatives, and, on the other, advance the principles of migration management in a manner that places us on the driving seat of this process. Our management of international migration must not be ad-hoc and based on the principles of control, but must seek to harness this process to advance our national interest as well as our principles of international and, particularly, African solidarity.
As we celebrate the 60th Anniversary of the Freedom Charter,
“Let all people who love their people and their country now say, as we say here:
THESE FREEDOMS WE WILL FIGHT FOR, SIDE BY SIDE, THROUGHOUT OUR LIVES, UNTIL WE HAVE WON OUR LIBERTY.”
Minister M. Gigaba