Stay home.. in your households ... with your families.
In other words, go back to the place of resilience, of strength, of support .... or possibly go back to the place of dysfunction, of anxiety, of pain.
Implementation of the White Paper on Families in South Africa at this moment must truly reverberate with the sounds of back to what and whom and under what conditions. If ever there was a moment in post-apartheid South African history, when the role of family should be advocated for and should be placed central to the National Development Plan 2030, now is that moment!
The family has overnight become governments "go to" for education of children, economy and sharing of resources, physical and mental health, care for vulnerable persons and dealing with grave uncertainties relating to financial and personal survival in the future. Whether that be paying rent, a bond, acquiring electricity, water and data to stay connected, food, personal and hygiene products; all without knowing when this will end.
The huge infrastructure projects, bailouts of state owned entities, junk status and the 55% of South Africans who live in poverty have all become secondary to the might of the security cluster who will keep us in our homes, with our families, despite the lack of water and sanitation in many communities, despite the forced close proximity of crowded townships and informal sector living - ideal conditions for the breeding of viruses and spreading of disease.
Recalling that the specific objectives of the White Paper are to:
1. Enhance the socialising, caring, nurturing and supporting capabilities
of families so that their members are able to contribute effectively to the
overall development of the country;
2. Empower families and their members by enabling them to identify,
negotiate around, and maximize economic, labour market, and other
opportunities available in the country; and
3. Improve the capacities of families and their members to establish
social interactions which make a meaningful contribution towards a sense of
community, social cohesion and national solidarity.
Where does this leave us? In a state of lockdown while a policy that was accepted by Cabinet in 2013 remains just a policy?
Strengthening of families and family cohesion is crucial to the manner in which role players determine how we as a nation get to the other side of COVID19 with families and households who are central to fostering a social compact. Active citizenry and leadership starts at the household level where families, in all their forms, reside and survive even when government service delivery mechanisms are put on hold and families are put on
lockdown. Now is the time to implement the White Paper on Families: "To undertake activities, programmes, projects and plans to promote, support and nourish well-functioning families that are loving, peaceful, safe, stable, and economically self-sustaining; that also provide care and physical, emotional, psychological, financial, spiritual, and intellectual support for their members.” The NDP 2030 can only be achieved if there is a clear focus on implementing government policy through a the lens of the family.
Now is the moment!