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Memorandum of the African National Congress on Unity, Non-Racialism and Democracy submitted to the President of the Republic of South Africa, His Excellency Jacob Zuma

19 February 2016 - Union Buildings, Tshwane

We, the people of South Africa, black and white, representing civil society, faith based groups, non-governmental and community based organisations, the creative industries, the business fraternity and organised labour, have gathered today in defence of our hard won constitutional democracy and the fundamental human rights it bestows upon all citizens of our land

In this march for unity, non-racialism and democracy, we stand on the shoulders of giants who over centuries of subjugation and oppression, committed their lives to the building of a South Africa that would be united, non-racial, non-sexist, democratic and prosperous in character

We reaffirm the clarion call made by our people at the Congress of the People in Kliptown in 1955 that "South Africa belongs to all who live in it, black and white" and that "our country will never be prosperous or free until all our people live in brotherhood, enjoying equal rights and opportunities"

Many freedom fighters, young and old, black and white, laid down their lives for the realisation of the vision where in South Africa no man or woman would be discriminated against on the basis of their race, gender or creed

With the dawn of democracy, South Africans in their overwhelming majority, adopted the Constitution of the Republic - a platform for co-existence and a cornerstone and bedrock of our democracy

In the Bill of Rights, Chapter Two of the Constitution, we committed ourselves to the inalienable rights to equality, social justice and human dignity.

As we gather here today, 20 years since the Icon of our Struggle and Father of our Nation, Comrade Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, signed the Constitution into law, we as peace loving South Africans, remain resolute and united in our diversity to the ongoing transformation of our nation based on the ideals that so many that came before us laid down their lives for

Our national flag and national anthem, Nkosi Sikelela iAfrika, remain everlasting symbols of our commitment to the unity on which this country is founded. We stand ready to jealousy guard and promote their sanctity. We also recognise and appreciate the role that each individual South African has to play in realising our aspiration of a common nationhood

It is very disturbing therefore that in recent times, 21 years after our democratic breakthrough, South Africa has witnessed the resurgences of incidences of racism, often disguised as freedom of speech

It is of deep concern that within our society there remain those individuals who defend, justify, harbour and turn a blind eye to the demon of racism

President Oliver Tambo decried racism as one of the great evils of our time. He said, "it bedevils human relations between individuals, within and between nations, and across continents. It brutalises entire peoples, destroys persons, warps the process of thought and injects into human society a foul air of tension, mutual antagonism and hatred"

Racism and related intolerances weaken our fragile social fabric and undermine social cohesion; benefitting only those who want to reverse the gains of our democracy and return our nation to a past fraught with hatred, distrust and disunity amongst the people

The African National Congress and its democratic allies gathered in this march, calls on all sectors of society to rally behind the vision of a South Africa as enshrined in the Freedom Charter

Peace loving South Africans must joins hands, across our many divides, to continue building a nation united in its diversity

As a people, we must resist and reject racists, racist organisations and apologists for racism

We call on the South African government to enact and strengthen laws that protect and promote the constitutional values of human dignity and equality by criminalising racism in all its manifestations

Working together with all sectors of society, the democratic government must lead in fostering social cohesion and ensuring the respect, protection, promotion and fulfilment of the rights contained in the Bill of Rights

As South Africans, we must develop a future generation, from amongst our youth and children, that upholds the Constitution and in particular non-racialism as a means to build a South African nation

The African National Congress calls upon all South Africans and all South African national groups to deepen democracy by embracing Unity as a cornerstone for a better South Africa.

On behalf of the African National Congress
Gwede Mantashe
Secretary General

On behalf of the The Presidency of the Republic of South Africa
Jacob Zuma
President