Too many South Africans still live without access to quality education, healthcare, basic services and quality housing. The suffering of fellow South Africans can and must not be accepted, and we must urgently remove the barriers to achieving a more just society. We must do so because a society as unequal as ours is unsustainable for all who live in it.
We need to act as one to build, with great urgency, a more just and inclusive society by addressing key challenges:
- Inequality: our income inequality is the highest in the world, with black, coloured and Indian South Africans and women being at a significant disadvantage. Upward social mobility and accumulation of social capital remain low for black South Africans. Women are more severely affected by unemployment and poverty, and women in South Africa are subjected to the scourge of gender-based violence.
- Discrimination: discrimination and prejudice based on gender identity, race, sexual preference, disability, nationality and various other characteristics exclude too many individuals from achieving their potential. Only in a society where personal and cultural diversity is tolerated and celebrated can all individuals live a fulfilled life.
- Healthcare and disability rights: our healthcare is severely underperforming because of fundamental mismanagement of health care facilities. At the same time, more impoverished communities tend to experience more health problems and are thus are more reliant on a failing public health system. Furthermore, persons with disabilities do not receive adequate support to fulfil their potential due to lack of access to the necessary specialised services and support.
- Lack of effective empowerment systems: our social support systems do not empower vulnerable individuals to become self-sufficient. Indeed, millions of South Africans face enormous hurdles almost from the moment of birth – they lack access to the necessary nutrition for cognitive and other development, lack access to decent sanitation and experience substandard schooling. Inadequate transport infrastructure means that the few economic opportunities that may be available are too expensive to access. This creates a context which dependency on some form of state assistance is almost inevitable.