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Nozizwe Medlala-Routledge: Working for Peace

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global oneness project Working for Peace This is a very important issue, the issue of how you achieve peace. Nozizwe Madlala-Routledge - Cape Town, South Africa - Former South African Deputy Minister of Health Clearly, as Mahatma Gandhi put it, you've got to leave the future that you want. So you can't today be violent and say you are working for peace. I know that often when you talk about nonviolence and peace, some people think it is impossible and that you can't achieve it. It has to start with your own mind, how you think about these issues of peace and relate it to your own life. I want to give an example again, as a former Defense Deputy Minister. One of the slogans, for example, that I found in our military was that in order to achieve peace, you've got to fight and be ready war. Can you hear the contradiction there? In order to achieve peace, you've got to prepare for war. It was important for me to point this out and say, "Can you see that there is a contradiction here?" and start to think and talk about the contradiction and to say, "Of course in order to acheive peace, you should not be preparing for war, you should be preparing for peace." Which actually means you have to look at a different way to use your power. In South Africa, having been a country that ended apartheid, dominated our neighbors, invaded the countries near to us, we are to transform that mentality in the military to say the power that is in the militrary needs to be transformed. We put it into our policy, put the military under civilian control and made it very clear that we were going to use our defense force for peacekeeping on the continent. We were not going to go to war with our neighbors, rather we were going to cooperate with our neighbors to bring about peace, and we did this. An example of this is with the Democratic Republic of Congo, which was for many years, at war. We cooperated with them, opened our space for the different groupings, to come and sit down around a table and we used our experience to have them facilitate dialogue among themsleves, and today Congo is a free country. They've had elections there, they are a democratic country. What I'm saying is that you have to work for peace. You can't just sit down and say I will meditate and peace will come about. Of course meditation is important because you've got to start with yourself, but you then have to go work for peace. At times, it actually means working with people to change their mindset, to make them see a different world One thing that I think we ought to realize is that, in looking at war and looking at peace, there are different interests. For example, there is the interest of the arms industry, which would fuel these conflicts, which would make people feel the need to arm themselves, and, in turn, they profit from that. Its important to realize this, to be aware of it, so that as you make your choices, to say this is what we are going to do as a country. Be very aware of the other interests and inferences in your own country, that they can make you believe that, in fact you do need to arm yourself, you do need to go to war. The experience of your country, for example, America, having been at war in Vietnam, is that some of these conflicts go on for a very long time and they cost a lot of money, taking resources away from an area that are needed to develop your country It goes into a war, which in some cases, may not even be your war. But what I'm saying here is that it is very important to encourage people to exercise their own free thinking and to make informed choices in their own lives, but also to participate and be very involved through their parliaments, through their governments, to bring about the policies that they want their country to adopt which are for the common good. When the Parliament, for example, is discussing the issue of arms procurement, it is important for members of Parliament to inform themselves and participate very actively to say, "What are our pressing needs? What are our priorities? And if we do buy arms, what are we going to use them for? Who is going to be affected by our choices and our decisions?" Society also needs to be involved so that in the end, the decision that is taken is an informed decision. It is not one that is dominated by one particular interest group. So democracy actually is about participation, it is about listening to different viewpoints. This is something that we value very much in our country, where for the past 300 years, we have experienced conflict because people were not allowed to participate in decisions that were being made in our own country.

Video Details

Duration: 6 minutes and 54 seconds
Country: Andorra
Language: English
Views: 289
Posted by: global on May 7, 2008

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