Following the killing of 34 miners by police at Marikana, ICON is calling for a national dialogue on how we end violence in South African society. Whatever the strengths and achievements of reconciliation and building of new institutions since 1994, we can no longer ignore the terrible problem with which we still live. Our societal structures continue to be caught up with violence, which becomes visible in such disasters, or in the spate of political assassinations in KwaZulu-Natal.
Political action has consisted too much on identifying one or other group as the enemy. We have failed to develop a political and civic culture that values the lives of all in the society, and in our failure have perpetuated the damage done through colonialism and apartheid. A society based on attempts by one or other group to gain control and to seize resources is incapable of addressing the deep problems of social inequality and environmental degradation.
We know that achieving the end of violence is a long task, but as South Africans we have taken on long tasks before. Such a dialogue can only work if the process itself is genuinely inclusive and is based on some gentleness in how we handle each other. While values such as ubuntu and respect are much spoken about, they are generally absent from our political life, and their time has come.
Crispin Hemson, ICON Director