We as a society can win and we should win

South Africa celebrated its 14th Human Rights Day on Good Friday and the country and nation have a lot to be proud about.

South Africa celebrated its 14th Human Rights Day on Good Friday and the country and nation have a lot to be proud about.

Today we boast one of the most liberal of constitutions as well as a democratic system that has given us three democratic elections, institutions that guarantee various rights, independent courts, a vibrant media and very active public organisations such as unions and various NGOs, etc.

Over the 14 years of this democracy, the government of South Africa embarked on economic policies that consolidated and strengthened the country's position as a leading economic powerhouse on the continent and a leading developing country with special relations with countries such as India and Brazil.

The country has been a regular participant and contributor at the World Economic Forum.

The economy grew, policies such as affirmative action and black economic empowerment grew the number of blacks who are now classified as middle-class or wealthy, changing the face and landscape of the racially divided communities and access to opportunities.

Many people now have access to better housing. Certain sectors of the economy have grown manifold such as tourism rising from around three million visitors just before 1994 to more than nine million in 2007.

New technologies have been introduced, with companies that did not exist before 1994, such as MTN and Vodacom for instance, contributing more than 300 billion rand to the economy.

These changes are occurring everywhere in the economy and are even shaping the nature of work and the skills required in this country, and that at an individual level can be unsettling.

Some of South Africa's companies are getting bigger by the day because of globalisation. Some of the jobs are being wiped off because of exactly the same phenomenon.

On the social front the country has battled to reverse the effect of apartheid on the majority of the population.

Whereas state pensions and child support grants have alleviated the poverty in many respects, in others they have produced unintended consequences.

These are being debated on an ongoing basis.

On the health front we have suffered the damages of the spread of Aids and other transmitted but avoidable diseases. In many instances our institutions did not deliver when expected and, in fact, seem to deteriorate even further.

We are said to be one of the leading countries when it comes to invest money in education, but somehow our system is not producing the results we desire.

We have reviewed our education policy on numerous occasions, yet it does not seem like we are about to realise the quality of education that can respond to the rapidly changing work and social environment.

These are some of the problems that confront us and we should reflect on them as we plan ahead. They do affect on our human rights. But we are creative and we do have opportunities.

Let us use the opportunity offered by the World Cup to work together to change the environment and our attitudes so that we can build a winning and transformative culture in our society.

We can do so by focusing our energies on activities that help build the values that are enshrined in our Bill of Rights and our constitution.

Through various campaigns, we should promote a spirit and culture that puts human dignity first. We can promote this culture by developing values among young people that emphasise empowerment more than entitlement, for it is the empowered who win in any competition.

The entitled wait for glory to come to them and it never does. We can win and we should win.