10 things about … Social cohesion

1. The department of arts and culture convened the National Social Cohesion Summit held last week in Kliptown, Soweto. The department said the government had “identified social cohesion as one of its key priorities” and the summit would “provide South Africans with the opportunity to help to define the society they want to live in”.

2. Ahead of the summit, the department said social cohesion was “based on four key pillars – diversity, inclusiveness, access and values” and it was “about celebrating diversity in an inclusive manner, working with common values and making sure that all have equal access to basic services, education, healthcare, justice and housing. It is about ensuring that South Africans relate better to one another, be it as friends, neighbours, family, colleagues or even strangers.”

3. The department also launched its South African @ Heart campaign, “aimed at strengthening social cohesion through instigating a national conversation about what value system should govern every South African’s thinking and behaviour”.

4. Social cohesion might be a new term for “nation-building”. It might also be descended from Nelson Mandela’s reconciliation project, dumped by later administrations.

5 The notion of social cohesion (“mechanical” versus “organic”) was first explored by sociologist Émile Durkheim in The Division of Labour in Society (1893). Social cohesion became a buzz term in the early 2000s after riots and clashes between white racist rightwingers and marginalised Asian youth in a few northern cities of the United Kingdom. About 2000 people were involved, excluding police. The riots lasted a few days. (South Africans at the Kliptown summit could be forgiven for thinking “We should be so lucky”.)

6. The summit project manager and the department’s director for social cohesion, Sandile Memela, said the summit should not be mistaken for a “reaction” to the controversial painting The Spear.

7. In his opening speech at the summit, President Jacob Zuma said the 2010 Fifa World Cup, held in South Africa, was an example of social cohesion. “Every citizen became an ambassador of our beautiful country,” he said. “It was a wonderful moment and it showed us what is possible if we put our country first above all else.”

8. Democratic Alliance leader Helen Zille said: “There are no short cuts to social cohesion … [It] isn’t something that the state can impose on society.”

9. Speakers agreed that, as Lumko Mtimde, chief executive of the Media Development and Diversity Agency put it, South Africa’s “triple challenge” of “unemployment, ­poverty and inequality” were the causes of the lack of social cohesion in South Africa.

10.  The Unemployed People’s Movement was not invited to the summit.


Study unpacks the ‘hidden racism’ at Stellenbosch

Students say they feel unseen and unheard at the university because of their skin colour

Workers’ R60m ‘lost’ in banks scam

An asset manager, VBS Mutual Bank and a Namibian bank have put the retirement funds of 26 000 municipal workers in South Africa at risk

‘Judge President Hlophe tried to influence allocation of judges to...

Deputy Judge President Patricia Goliath accuses Hlophe of attempting to influence her to allocate the case to judges he perceived as ‘favourably disposed’ to former president Jacob Zuma

SAA grounds flights due to low demand

SAA is working to accommodate customers on its sister airlines after it cancelled flights due to low demand

Press Releases

MTN unveils TikTok bundles

Customised MTN TikTok data bundles are available to all prepaid customers on *136*2#.

Marketers need to reinvent themselves

Marketing is an exciting discipline, offering the perfect fit for individuals who are equally interested in business, human dynamics and strategic thinking. But the...

Upskill yourself to land your dream job in 2020

If you received admission to an IIE Higher Certificate qualification, once you have graduated, you can articulate to an IIE Diploma and then IIE Bachelor's degree at IIE Rosebank College.

South Africans unsure of what to expect in 2020

Almost half (49%) of South Africans, 15 years and older, agree or strongly agree that they view 2020 with optimism.

KZN teacher educators jet off to Columbia University

A group of academics were selected as participants of the programme focused on PhD completion, mobility, supervision capacity development and the generation of high-impact research.

New-style star accretion bursts dazzle astronomers

Associate Professor James O Chibueze and Dr SP van den Heever are part of an international team of astronomers studying the G358-MM1 high-mass protostar.

2020 risk outlook: Use GRC to build resilience

GRC activities can be used profitably to develop an integrated risk picture and response, says ContinuitySA.

MTN voted best mobile network

An independent report found MTN to be the best mobile network in SA in the fourth quarter of 2019.