Dear Honourable President
Inputs by Save the Children South Africa to the SONA
Firstly, allow me to offer our appreciation for the opportunity you have given to us, as a members of the public.
As a way of introduction, Save the Children works in more than 120 countries, including South Africa. We strive to save children’s lives. We fight for their rights. We help them fulfil their potential. In South Africa, we aim to work in all provinces to ensure that every child, especially the most vulnerable, has a happy and healthy childhood.
As an organisation concerned with the rights and welfare of children, we are extremely concerned about the situation of children in South Africa. I have taken the liberty of quoting the NDP Summary document: “Our homes, neighbourhoods, villages, towns, and cities are safe and filled with laughter. Through our institutions, we order our lives. The faces of our children tell of the future we have crafted”. Very noble, but sadly the opposite is true. Our homes, cities, villages and towns are filled with tears and despair. Our children’s faces are filled with pain and covered in tears, certainly not a reflection of what the Freedom Charter envisaged.
Our children bear the brunt of domestic violence, crime, abuse, unsafe modes of transport, bullying, rape, and many other violations that no child should endure. Both the communities and the institutions that were set up to protect our children continue to fail them. As a nation, we must ask ourselves why we hurt and neglect our children on a daily basis - manifested most vividly in the violent atrocities we expose them to. It is our view as Save the Children South Africa that our children have become dispensable and relegated to mere statistics. How else do we explain this lack of outrage at these violations?
Mr President, we believe the time for talking and task teams is over. We need to act as a country and we need to act now. We need the kind of dedication and decisiveness that we demonstrated in the fight against HIV and AIDS, and government needs to lead from the front. We therefore propose that the President announces a sustained campaign aimed at stopping these violations. Whilst we appreciate that we have the 16 Days of No Violence against Children and Women, we need to be honest that it has not been as successful as envisaged.
We therefore propose that the campaign be supported by a structure similar to that of SANAC and chaired by the President or the Deputy President. We need a campaign that will come alive in every community, every home, every village and every city.
We need a campaign and individual champions that will demonstrate our intolerance as a country to the abuse of children. Maybe, and just maybe, we can have the kind of future that is envisaged in the Freedom Charter and the NDP.
Driven by the ambition of being one of the “leading authorities” for children’s rights in South Africa, we offer ourselves as partners in working with government and other organisations to stop the violence and abuse of children. This will require us to be agile, in responding to opportunities and needs that support the development and implementation of innovative, relevant and effective solutions for children. As we celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Freedom Charter, Save the Children South Africa aims to build partnerships that create lasting impacts for children in South Africa.
We would appreciate an opportunity to meet with the President to strategise on rectifying the dire situation of children in the country and find ways in which we could cooperate with the South African Government.
With Best Regards
CEO: Save the Children South Africa