Address at the Lighting of the Torches of Tolerance at the Union Buildings, Pretoria, 21 August 2001
South Africas hosting of the World Conference
Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and
Related Intolerance (WCAR) is an important milestone
in the evolution of our young democracy and as a government
of South Africa. We will always cherish this event and
remember it with pride. Some controversy should not
detract from the overall topic of the Conference
The Conference has to deal with many issues; it is
a deliberative Conference it will trace the path
for the future. Conference must emerge with a concrete
programme of action.
Today, South Africans across the country are lighting
torches of tolerance that will burn until the end of
the Conference as a symbol of our united commitment
to tolerance and diversity. A symbol of our tolerance
towards all citizens and non-citizens of our country.
Today these torches are being lit as a symbol of our
acknowledgement of and our commitment to our diversity
as South Africans.
South Africans struggled long and hard against a system
of institutionalised discrimination. A system that was
declared a crime against humanity by the United Nations.
With the assistance of the international community we
managed to put in place a democratically elected government
that introduced mechanisms that would ensure the basic
rights of every individual irrespective of colour, sex
The UNs decision to host the Conference in SA
is an acknowledgement of our achievement towards tackling
racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related
intolerances and our attempt to establish a non-racial,
non-sexist, non-discriminative society.
It is also an acknowledgement that creatively we are
trying to fight the remaining vestiges of racism and
other forms of intolerance. The world helped us to defeat
Apartheid - we must now contribute to the international
fight against racism, xenophobia and other forms of
Todays events in our country are therefore important
to demonstrate to our visitors who will be coming to
the Conference our own commitment as individuals and
as Government to this Conference and its positive, forward
Let the torch of tolerance burn brightly throughout
For further information contact Ronnie Mamoepa at 082
990 4853 or Basetsane Thokoane at 083 443 7740.
Issued by the Department of Foreign Affairs
Private Bag X 152
21st August 2001