Racism should be criminalised

Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa says amending the Constitution to outlaw racism can make a dent on the scourge.

The Minister said this when he led a debate on racism at the National Assembly on Tuesday.

Government is working towards finalising the Prevention and Combating of Hate Crimes and Hate Speech Bill, which is expected to be tabled in Parliament soon.

"[We] call on all compatriots to contribute to shaping the Action Plan, combat racism, xenophobia and other related intolerances.

"Humanity is under obligation to suppress and punish this crime. While we cannot regulate the people's attitude, we can regulate their behaviour through criminalising racism. If need be, we should amend the Constitution," he said.

Members of Parliament (MPs) from different parties stated that all South Africans should work together to uproot racism from society.

The Minister said in order to defeat racism, South Africans first need to uphold the ideals of the Constitution; society must foster the principle of equal opportunities, inclusion and redress and promote social cohesion through increased interaction across race and class.

He said, however, that despite racism raising its ugly head from time to time, the country should not lose sight of the project of nation building through radical economic transformation.

"The current phase of the transition should be characterised by decisive actions to effect thorough-going economic transformation and democratic consolidation.

"This is critical in order to improve people's quality of life, but also in the promotion of nation-building and social cohesion. For this to happen, every sector of our society must put the shoulder to the wheel," he said.

On 21 March this year, following several incidents of racism involving ordinary and high profile citizens, President Jacob Zuma launched a national campaign against racism, and urged South Africans to continue running their regional campaigns going forward.

Source: Government Communication and information System