Prof Jonathan Jansen (Vice Chancellor, University of the Free State) and Ms Poppy Mocumi (National Chairperson, Disabled Women of South Africa, and member of the National Planning Commission) spoke to the theme of social transformation at a roundtable co-hosted by the Hanns Seidel Foundation.
Prof Jansen’s key point was to distinguish between transformation on the one hand, and social justice on the other. Efforts to increase the proportion of previously disadvantaged people in senior public positions were a matter of social justice, not of transformation. Likewise, land redistribution, black economic empowerment and similar initiatives were required by social justice, but did not necessarily amount to transformation. According to Prof Jansen, transformation was about changing mindsets and attitudes – starting with our own. He noted that no-one could presume to change others unless he or she had changed themselves first.
Ms Mocumi (right) concentrated on the needs of the disabled community. She questioned why employment equity legislation set a requirement that 2% of employees should be drawn from people with disabilities, when 7% of the population were classed as suffering from one or other kind of disability. She also noted, like Prof Jansen, that there needed to be an attitudinal change; people needed to realise that disability did not mean an inability to work and to contribute to the economy. Ms Mocumi ended by referring to the fact that “we are very good at putting things on paper [ie. making laws and policies] but then they just gather dust.”