Speech by Deputy Minister Pahad at the
Launch of the Department of Foreign Affairs Annual Christmas
Party for the Underprivileged Children at Pretoria Zoo,
27 September 2001
Director: South African National Zoological Gardens
Ladies and Gentleman
I to would like too warmly welcome you to this evening
and thank you for accepting our invitation.
I wish to thank Willie Labuschagne for availing these
wonderful facilities to us tonight, and to thank him
and his personnel for the wonderful experience that
has been afforded us to take in the sights and sounds
of Zoo under African skies.
The collection of animals that we saw tonight, in a
way, depicts as we are gathered here tonight representing
our various countries, a "united nations of animals".
Fortunately, unlike the animals we have just seen, we
are not caged, but are able to enjoy the freedom of
movement and association. Through this interaction we
are also able to exchange and celebrate our cultural
Tonight, we are celebrating the launch of the Annual
Christmas Party hosted by the Department of Foreign
Affairs for underprivileged children in Pretoria. This
year, will be the fifth consecutive year that we host
this function in conjunction with the personnel of Sunnyside
Over the years, while we have seen the event grow from
strength to strength, we have also witnessed the increasing
need of these children. At the Christmas Party, we provide
games and entertainment for the children, as well as
provide each child with a meal, an ice cream, cooldrink,
and of course a Christmas present.
At the Party hosted in the Zoo two years ago, one of
the supervisors of the shelters that house these children
painted the following picture for us. While the children
had travelled less than 20 kilometres, a number of them
were of the opinion that they had travelled out of Pretoria.
One of the children in the group, a 10 year old boy,
was experiencing his first Christmas Party. The gift
that he received was the first Christmas gift that he
had ever received. For the organisers, it is heart warming
to hear such accounts, but it is actually frightening
when we take stock of the reality of the extent of the
deprivation that some children have to endure.
Having witnessed the events of 11 September 2001, much
thought, debate and energy has been expended on determining
and articulating appropriate responses to the acts committed.
However, limited thought has been spared to contemplate
the social impact of this event, especially the impact
on the children.
It is accepted that the majority of the persons who
are unaccounted for, or who have been confirmed dead,
are adults. This therefore means that a number of children
are now deprived of the love and affection of the at
least one parent. A large number of divorces are attributed
to the "loss of love and affection". We can
therefore say that a number of children have been divorced
from a parent. Apart from the emotional or psychological
impact that this event has had on the children, we also
need to consider the effect of the sudden, violent removal
of a loved member on the social, or family structures.
Numerous studies have identified the disintegration
of the family structure as a contributory factor to
juvenile delinquency and the phenomenon of street children
as we see around us on a daily basis.
The use of the events of 11 September 2001 was not intended
to re-open raw wounds, but merely to illustrate how
easily the actions of adults can impact the lives of
societys future adults.
I am proud to announce that this year, the Annual Christmas
Party will once again be held at the Pretoria Zoo on
16 December 2001. In the coming months, the Zoo will
be running a number of programmes aimed at gathering
toys that can be presented as gifts to these underprivileged
Next weekend, a number of you will be participating
in the International Fair on the lawns of the Union
Buildings. There you will find a stall where you can
also pledge a donation towards the Christmas Party,
and then decorate the Christmas tree with your pledge.
Some of the organisers of the Christmas Party are busy
distributing, or have already distributed, pledge cards.
Please feel free to complete the pledge card and hang
your pledge on the Christmas tree over here. (Select
one or two individuals in the audience and urge them
to complete their pledge cards.) You do not need cash
or a cheque book in your pocket tonight to complete
the pledge card. Merely indicate the extent of your
pledge, and we will call on you closer to the Christmas
Party to collect your pledge.
An event like this is not possible without the contribution
of sponsors. As we wait for pledges to be made, let
me take the opportunity to extend a couple of words
To our guests who took the time out to attend this
function despite their heavy schedules.
To Willie Labuschagne and his team, thank you for the
marvellous venue, a unique experience of the Zoo, and,
if one can go by the aromas wafting past, a delicious
To Volvo, (jokingly) thank you for the donation of these
cars, which we can offer as, prizes to lucky guests
tonight. For your generous contributions I wish to extend
a special word of thanks for making it possible for
us to enjoy a wonderful evening in a wonderful venue.
To the team who put all of this together, we all need
to express our heartfelt thanks.
In conclusion, we as privileged adults need to take
responsibility for lesser privileged children in our
community. I urge you to pledge generously for the Annual
Christmas Party to be held at the Zoo on 16 December
I thank you and wish you enjoy tonights function.