South Africa has been viewed as a leader in Africa, but following the recent spate of xenophobic attacks, this image has been tarnished. Today, as we celebrate all the peoples of Africa, let us be reminded of the fundamental rights and freedoms our society was founded on. Our constitutional democracy guarantees the right to human dignity, the right to life, and the right to freedom and security of the person. Our Constitution does not accept a society in which people are persecuted because of nationality, race, ethnicity, culture, language, gender, sexual orientation, disability, age, or any other ground.

Therefore, our government has a constitutional duty to ensure that the rights of every person in South Africa are protected and realised – regardless of their nationality. What we desperately need in South Africa is a renewed sense of tolerance, mutual respect, and devotion to our constitutional values. Such a frame of mind cannot be policed, but must be promoted by everyone – from the President and political leaders, to the people of South Africa.

Issued by the FW de Klerk Foundation and the Centre for Constitutional Rights

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