My country, my responsibility

Since taking office in 2018, I have consistently invited and challenged all South Africans to build a prosperous country that we can all be proud of.

One of the best ways to enable all of us to become active citizens is to be the change that we want to see in our country and communities. Broadly speaking, if I want to live in a safer country, I cannot take part in or keep quiet about criminal activities taking place in my community.

If I want to live in a community where my mother, sister and daughter feel safe and protected, my role as a man should be to protect women and children from the brutality of violence and abuse. If I am aware of women and children who are being abused in my community, it is my duty as an active and responsible citizen to report the abuse to authorities such as social workers and police.

The scourge of women and children abuse is on the rise in our country, and it is up to all of us to put a stop to it as it has no place in our society. As active citizens we should unite and say enough is enough! Women and children have the right to live free of fear and abuse.

Active citizens are agents of change and take charge of their future and that of their communities. In building a better future for our country, let us also be active in the school life and development of our children. 

If you are a parent or guardian, spend time reading to your son or daughter to help them to develop a love of reading and to also read with understanding. It takes practice, time and patience to develop reading comprehension skills.

In 2017, the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study released a report about the poor literacy levels in South Africa. The report found that 78 percent of grade four learners are unable to read for meaning. This means that nearly eight out of 10 of Grade Four learners cannot read for meaning.

It is up to us as parents and guardians to change this. You can start by setting aside 30 minutes a day to read aloud with/to children to raise their literacy levels.

Reading is empowering because it develops strong mental abilities and is the most fundamental skill that any person needs to achieve their potential.

As we celebrate Human Rights Month, it is worth a reminder that the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa of 1996 guarantees the right of all South Africans to live in an environment that is not harmful to their health and well-being.

Littering, illegal dumping, pollution and other harmful activities have a negative effect on the natural environment. I recently launched the Good Green Deeds campaign to encourage all South Africans – the private sector, labour, non-governmental organisations, interfaith formations and society at large – to clean South Africa.

Creating a clean environment is not only the responsibility of government but of all of us. We are all responsible for the environment that we live, work and find leisure in.

A clean environment begins with you and me, so do not litter; pick up litter and throw it in the dustbin; and reduce, reuse and recycle to help cut down on waste.

Reduce the amount of travelling you do by car to save fuel and protect the environment from carbon emissions, and also opt for fresh foods instead of pre-packaged foods to ensure good health. You can also reuse shopping bags instead of buying plastic bags every time you shop.

Recycling, on the other hand, is the process of converting used items back into a reusable material and then using this to make new products. Recycling conserves natural resources and reduces the need to put waste into landfills. You can recycle paper, glass and cans, as well as certain kinds of plastic and metal.

Our nation brand rests on each citizen and collectively on the sectors of government, business and civil society.

Our achievements and ability to address socio-economic and political challenges in the past confirm that we can work together as a united nation to build a country that does not abuse women and children, but which among other things, takes a keen interest in the literacy of our children and promotes a clean and safe environment.

When we feel this common sense of destiny, we begin to take ownership of the country that we want to live in.

We cannot be spectators in the development and management of our beautiful country.

It all begins with you and me.