Address by SANAC Chair, Dep. President David Mabuza at the National Men’s Summit
Members of the Provincial Executive Council,
Deputy Minister of Social Development,
CEO of SANAC,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Thank you for inviting me to address this Takuwani Riime National Men’s Summit.
I am truly humbled and grateful, as a man, to gather and have the opportunity to speak frankly amongst ourselves, to sit, discuss and to question our role as men in society.
Three years ago, the Dominion of Canada elected its youngest ever Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau.
In good measure Mr Trudeau upped the ante of progressive politics by appointing the first 50:50 male and female cabinet, the 6th in the World.
When quizzed about this feat, Mr Trudean, famously answered – “Because it is 2015!”
Today, in 2018, we are presented with yet another rhetorical moment in the evolution of human progress.
Our gathering as South African men, as one of the most liberal and progressive constitutional democracies, inescapably begs the question:
“Why must men meet, as men, in post-apartheid and democratic South Africa, in 2018?”
After all we lay claim to have one of the most progressive constitutions in the world, a constitution for a non-racial, non-sexist, just and prosperous country.
But yet men in South Africa have to meet, as men, because men in South Africa kill women.
Our country’s Femicide rate has been increasing over the last five years. In the last year alone we have lost 2639 women lives. These are lives that leave motherless children; deaths that rob families of their daughters; a socio-economic crime that robs us of a potential contribution of 1% of GDP.
Only 1 in 3 murders are detected by the police. This implies that the figure could be as high as 9000 women killed every year, in the past five years.
Men in South African have to meet because men in South Africa rape. They rape women and children, the old and disabled, the LGBTI and other vulnerable groups.
In the last 3 years, 124 526 rape cases have been reported. 41% of these were rapes against children. We have close to 120 cases of rape reported daily.
South African Men also hit women. One in five women experience physical violence from an intimate partner.
And so we have to meet. We must admit that we have a problem that has reached unprecedented and unacceptable levels.
We have to talk as men about the pain we have inflicted on women and children.
We have to meet as men to stop, think and reflect on the throes of pain, the grievous bodily and emotional violence we have inflicted on our society.
We have to meet to count the bodies of women and children left strewn and dead across the lands and fields of our nation.
We have to meet to make a choice, to change our ways and speak truth to each other.
We have to meet to admit vice and deal with the entrenchment of male power, privilege and patriarchy.
We have to meet to mend our ways. We need to take collective responsibility, to draw the line, and say ‘enough is enough’, this far and no further.
We have to meet to listen to women and feel their pain. We need to listen and atone for the violence we have visited upon their bodies.
We, as men, have to change. It is us who must stem the tide of gender-based violence, rape and the gratuitous maiming of women’s bodies.
We have witnessed the body of a 22 year woman, killed by her boyfriend, neck-laced and burned beyond recognition.
We have witnessed the life of a 3 year old, raped by a 40-year old man twice before he killed her.
There are countless incidents of terrible murders and violence perpetrated against innocent women and children.
These gruesome and horrible deeds must stop. It is within our hands to stop this madness that threatens to tear apart the basic fibre of our society.
This day is an important step in the right direction. It shows recognition that we have heard the harrowing cries of women and children who have suffered violence perpetrated by us as men.
May this day draw our attention to the role we can play as positive role models and change agents.
Let this summit serve as a sanctuary for self-evaluation, introspection, a deeper-gaze into the soul to find that spot of conscience and self-restraint.
It must not be a summit of blame but one of serious contemplation. It must be a summit where men can be free to speak, and free to say, as men, we too come from a broken society.
But it must also not be a summit of patriarchy and traditionalist excuses. We must demonstrate the ability to transcend the past and see into the future.
We must be able to imagine a new society of hope and inspiration, society attuned to the modern imperative of a forever a-changing world.
While we, as men, are by far the leading perpetrators in the exploitation of women, children, people with disabilities and vulnerable groups, I am confident that we can make a case for majority of men who are morally upright and responsible citizens of society.
As men, we must use this platform wisely, to speak freely without fear, with determination and honesty to a meaningful contribution to this fight against women abuse and violence.
For if we, as men, can find ourselves, we can advance the moral regeneration of the male soul. Then, we can serve as positive role models to future generations.
We can mentor the boy-child and inspire confidence in them to love women and treat their bodies with respect.
For it is crucial that we begin to imprint positive values and bequeath a legacy of non-violence against women and children.
For our part, as government, we are committed to supporting your initiatives and working with you to make the change we need.
Alongside this, we will uphold the rule of law and bring perpetrators to book.
Every citizen, woman and child alike, has the inalienable and constitutional right to life, equality, human dignity and privacy.
It is our duty of the state to arrest, prosecute and remove perpetrators from society. This is an undertaking we will not take lightly. We will work to serve and protect women.
This we will do with courage, conviction and determination. Justice will be done and must be seen to be done.
Where there are abuses in the home, rapists in the church and abusers on university compasses, we will have a zero tolerance attitude to crimes against women and the child.
On a broader level, I trust that this day will also help us fight many other social challenges that plague the lives of our people, particularly the scourge of HIV, alcohol and drug abuse, child neglect, crime, under-education and a lack of opportunities.
I once again wish you well in your deliberations. I am convinced that we can mould ourselves, our boy-children into caring men, men who will take care of their families, protect our streets and communities, men who will inculcate a culture of non-violence and care.
It begins with me, it begins with you. It begins with the realisation that it is 2018.
I thank you.