17 August 2017

South Africa: Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa - Sanac Religious Sector Men's Dialogue

press release

Remarks by Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa during the SANAC Religious Sector Men's Dialogue

Minister of Health, Mr Aaron Motsoaledi,

Deputy Minister of Basic Education, Mr Enver Surty,

Deputy Minister of Social Development, Ms Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu,

Religious Leaders,

Leadership of the South African National AIDS Council,

Leaders of civil society,

The community of Soshanguve,

Ladies and gentlemen,

Today offers us an opportunity to be part of the change we want to see in our society. We applaud the contribution of the SANAC men's sector in taking an unequivocal stance against gender-based violence. These are the men who know that we will not defeat the HIV pandemic if we do not root out this scourge and address the persistent inequality between men and women.

We extend our heartfelt appreciation to the South African Network of Religious Leaders Living With or Personally Affected by HIV and AIDS (SANERELA) for being our trusted ally in this struggle.

Today, our religious leaders are partnering with our communities to advance the health of our people. They are our most formidable ally in deepening exemplary moral conduct and promoting good sexual behaviour.

We look to them to use their places of worship to encourage men to go for testing.

We have faith in them that increasingly their sermons and counsel will discourage the stigmatisation of people living with HIV and TB.

We look to them to continue to give hope and to work for social cohesion.

They must remind our men that it is never too late to discard violence and bigotry.

The voice of our religious leaders matter significantly in a community like Soshanguve. This is a community crying out for moral regeneration and yearning for social transformation. It is a community that wants to see children in school. It is a community angry and frustrated by high levels of drug and alcohol abuse which fuel the spread of HIV. It is a community that is sick and tired of living in fear of criminals.

Together with our religious leaders and civil society groups, we are determined to work tirelessly to inculcate positive values and change social behaviour. We are determined to bring the necessary interventions to end AIDS and TB related deaths.

Over a period of a year, our religious leaders will engage in a series of dialogues with men. They will mobilise them to end violence directed at women and children. Today's event is therefore an important milestone in institutionalising and capacitating a responsive movement of men to address the myriad social challenges that face our communities.

South Africa's faith based communities were the midwife of our hard-worn liberation. They remain a bedrock and pillar of our new nation. When we gaze into the future, we see our religious leaders there with our people rebuilding lives and sustaining hopes for a better tomorrow.

They have agreed to use their experience, imagination and faith to promote the health of South Africans. They are invested in promoting good values, inculcating peace and deepening social cohesion. They have reminded us of our responsibility to care and to serve. They are playing their part. Play yours.

Get tested, get treatment and avoid risky sexual behaviour. We urge our children and youth to stay at school and equip themselves with skills and education.

As men, it is in our hands to end sexism, patriarchy and violence against women and children.

I thank you.

Issued by: The Presidency

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