The CEO of the Inclusive Society Institute, Daryl Swanepoel, joined a South African delegation led by ANC Treasurer General, Paul Mashatile, who visited Germany during the week of 14 – 18 October 2019. In the course of the week, they met with several prominent leaders of the German Social Democratic Party (SDP), civil society and government. The objective of the visit was to build solidarity amongst the progressive social democratic forces in Germany. The ANC has a longstanding sister-party relationship with the SDP which dates back to long before South Africa’s democracy, which dawned in 1994.
The delegation participated in wide-ranging series of meetings, which included, inter alia, engagements with Michelle Müntefering, Minister of State in the German Federal Foreign Office, Thomas Oppermann, Vice President of the German Federal Parliament, Dr Nils Schmid, Chairman of the Committee on Foreign Relations of the German Federal Parliament and Christoph Matschie, a member of the same committee. The delegation also met with MP’s Dagmar Freitag and Ulla Schmidt. The delegation also paid a visit to Willie Brandt House, the headquarters of the SDP. There they met with, amongst others, Konstantin Woinoff, the International Secretary of the party, Klaus Tovar, Director of the Party School and Andreas Schlotmann, SDP Treasurer General’s Office.
The recurring theme of the week’s discussion was that the international progressive and social democratic forces needed to strengthen their cooperation through focused activities aimed at advancing the programme of social justice and equality. Michelle Müntefering, for example, argued that dialogue and better coordination was important to bolster progressive values internationally, including within the multi-lateral institutions such as the United Nations. There were a number of global tasks that required urgent attention. One such task was to break down the current tendency of dividing communities and the building of walls between groups in society. This could be done by fostering the multiracialism belief of the progressive forces at a global level. To achieve this, channels of communication between progressive governments and parties needed to be strengthened, and mechanisms needed to be designed to involve broader society.