25 March 2019

South Africa: NAP a Tool to Combat Racism, Xenophobia

In its efforts to ramp up the fight against racism, xenophobia and discrimination, government has launched a tool to assist in combating these intolerances.

The tool comes in the form of a 67-page document known as the National Action Plan (NAP).

The plan, which takes its cue from the Declaration Programme of Action adopted by the UN World Conference against Racism, aims to promote and achieve the right to equality while combating racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance.

In a country that is still reeling from the effects of division sowed by apartheid, Justice and Constitutional Development Deputy Minister John Jeffrey said there is no doubt that South Africa needs such a plan.

Launching the plan on Monday, Jeffrey said the NAP is a culmination of an extensive process which started in 2015.

The process included a widespread consultation phase with various stakeholders, which Cabinet approved on 27 February 2019.

The NAP launch comes on the heels of Human Rights Day and just three days shy of the second anniversary since apartheid activist Ahmed Kathrada's passing.

Jeffrey said the launch was also in honour of Kathrada who was instrumental in shaping the NAP prior to his passing.

Kathrada participated at the launch of the NAP's national consultative dialogues in 2016.

The NAP will ensure that the concerns of individuals who encounter intolerance are addressed effectively.

It will also provide mechanisms for the documenting, monitoring of such incidents and for ways to strengthen efforts to combat it. The identification of legislation that needs to be amended or adopted to protect victims.

The NAP envisages awareness campaigns that encourage and inform the public of reporting incidents of intolerances to the relevant authorities.

In addition, the NAP will also establish a Rapid Response Mechanism to collate reported incidents of racism and other crimes of prejudice.

While stakeholders such as the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights Regional Head Abigail Noko and EU Ambassador Marcus Cornaro welcomed the NAP, they emphasised that its albatross is on implementation.

"The NAP should specify who should take action, establish a time frame and a budget and provide for monitoring and evaluation, it should also be a public document that is widely disseminated," said Noko.

The newly launched NAP will be translated into the 10 other official languages. It is also available on the Justice department's website http://www.justice.gov.za/docs/other-docs/NAP/NAP-20190313.pdf

Concluding his address, the Deputy Minister quoted Kathrada, to emphasise that while the launch of the NAP is only the beginning, it must be carried from generation to generation.

"The fight for non-racialism, equity and equality is not short-term work, but generational work.

"It requires a united effort, and a lifetime of commitment," said the Deputy Minister.

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