By Zenzile Mavuso

The initiative was announced by Gauteng Premier David Makhura in Sharpeville on Human Rights Day. March 21 was also marked as a national day against racism, and is observed globally as the International Day against Racial Discrimination.

The group will see collaboration between government and civil society to unravel and tackle the institutional, spatial and socio-economic underpinnings of racism and xenophobia in the province.

The Kathrada Foundation’s director, Neeshan Balton, will serve on the structure, along with other individuals from various organisations.

Balton thanked the provincial government for including the Foundation in the team. “We welcome the initiative, which has great potential to promote open and frank discussion around issues of racism, xenophobia, nation building and social cohesion. It follows a similar, successful collaborative effort between government and civil society in Roodepoort, where racial tensions flared at a local school,” Balton said.

He added that the initiative comes at a time when the country is faced with increasingly common incidents of racism and the repetitive outbreak of xenophobic attacks. “Members of the group bring with them a diverse set of skills and years of experience, which is of great value in when faced with such huge challenges,” Balton stated.

Others who serve on the group include Judge Yvonne Mokgoro (chairperson), Brigalia Bam, Reverend Ray MacCauley, Raenett Taljaard, Amos Monyela, Khanyisile Kweyama, Professor Achille Mbembe, Professor Mary Metcalf, Professor Luli Calinicos, Advocate Gcina Malindi, Rodger Jardine, Tasneem Motara, Reverend Frank Chikane, Professor Wendy Isaaks-Martin, Ambassador Barbara Masekela, Mbali Hlope, Sello Hatang from the Nelson Mandela Foundation and Mavuso Msimang from the Oliver and Adelaide Tambo Foundation.

The team will be working with the Premier, provisional government, executive mayors of municipalities and leaders of civil society over the next three years until May 2019.

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