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Tutu Lecture 2017: South Africans Must Join Together For Civil Peace

South Africans have a big role to play in preventing a Civil War in the future

“South Africa, we fought and slowly began building a nation,” Gounden said. “Now we are at a crossroads - and we need to decide whether we want civil war or civil peace.”

Those were the words of globally recognized conflict management expert, Advocate Vasu Gounden, speaking at the 7th Annual Desmond Tutu International Peace Lecture on 9 October 2017.

The Desmond Tutu International Peace Lecture is an annual event presented by the Desmond & Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation, in partnership with the University of the Western Cape. The lecture series was inaugurated by His Holiness The Dalai Lama (connected via satellite from India) in 2011. Subsequent lectures have been delivered by Graca Machel (2012), Kofi Annan (2013), Mary Robinson (2014), Advocate Thuli Madonsela (2015) and Advocate Hina Jilani of the Supreme Court of Pakistan (2016).

Advocate Gounden, who has spent the last 25 years working in the most protracted conflict situations, encouraged South Africans to work towards Civil Peace, even in the face of Civil War.

Gounden reminded South Africans of how far South Africa has come, and what is at stake if the country doesn’t rise to overcome its challenges.

“We live in a great country - a country with four Nobel Peace Prize winners - including the Arch,” he said. “We cannot throw away this beautiful country to war - we need to work towards building a better SA.”

Gounden drew on his experience and his extensive research in conflict areas around the world to explain the dangers at hand.

“How did we get here?” he asked, and answered: “With political intolerance and instability. Unemployment, divisions in the leading party, and inequality are the seeds to Civil War - history shows us this.”

Government has a huge responsibility to manage the country's many societal challenges, Gounden noted.

“It will take 20 to 40 years to create an equal society,” he noted. “Any politician who says they can achieve this in five years is misleading you - or does not understand how economic freedom works, which is fairly disturbing.“

He went on to comment on political leaders who make promises to secure votes for their respective parties.

“We need better leaders - being in a position of power does not mean you can accumulate wealth through corruption,” he said. “We need leaders who are visionaries and have long-term plans, with the ability to bring a sense of urgency and discipline throughout our society.”

Working Together For A Better Future

It’s not just political figures who have a role to play. Economic and social transformation, he noted, would require active partners in all sectors to make an equal society possible. Civil servants, the private sector - everyone who makes the effort can make a difference.

“We are on the brink of destruction,” Gounden said, “and it will take every South African to see to it that this does not happen.”

Professor Pamela Dube, Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Student Development and Support at UWC, said South Africans thank Archbishop Desmond Tutu (fondly known as the Arch) for his work and contributions, both in the old and the new South Africa.

“It is our aim to emulate the drive and passion of the Archbishop,” she said. “During Apartheid, it was the voice of the Arch that stood out and inspired us to fight against oppression. For that we thank you - and we strive to follow your example.”

View the event Pictures