SABC News - Countrywide events held to mark Human Rights Day:Monday 21 March 2016

Countrywide events held to mark Human Rights Day

Monday 21 March 2016 21:10

Patrick Dintwa & Mlamli Maneli

Political parties and government observed Human Rights Day around the country(SABC)

Political parties and government leaders celebrated Human Rights Day in various provinces across the country.

The Pan Africanist Congress (PAC) had two separate events in Langa, on the Cape Flats, while the African National Congress (ANC) and the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) both commemorated Human Rights day in Uitenhage, in the Eastern Cape.

The EFF was at the Allanridge Hall and the ANC held a rally at nearby Jabavu Stadium, in KwaNobuhle.

Leaders of the PAC have called on government to speed up efforts to transform the lives of the people.

Both groupings have criticised government for the slow pace in effecting change on the lives of the people.

PAC secretary general, Narious Moloto, says it's a shame that people's lives have not changed for the better more than five decades after many people lost their lives fighting for a better life.

Meanwhile, the Dr Kenneth Kaunda Region in the North West, the district municipality together with a group of destitute white community celebrated it differently.

The district municipality led by the executive mayor, Pinky Moloi, visited an area called Orkney Vaal outside Klerksdorp in the Matlosana Municipality.

It is an area along the Vaal River where about 100 white families are living without basic services and houses.

The Dr Kenneth Kaunda District Municipality in the North West comprises of four municipalities.

They are Matlosana in Klerksdorp, Tlokwe in Potchefstroom, Ventersdorp and Makwassie Hills in Wolmaransstad.

Matlosana municipality include areas of Klerksdorp, Hartbeesfontein, Stilfontein and Orkney.

In Orkney which is about 15 kilometres outside Klerksdorp, is where Orkney Vaal is found along the banks of the Vaal River.

The area was initially a privately owned holiday resort. The majority of the white families are all living in poverty as they are unemployed, without decent houses and basic services.

During Human Rights Day, the District Municipality decided to visit these families and commemorated the day with them.

Executive Mayor for the District Municipality, Councillor Pinky Moloi says, “We got other people of colour who are actually struggling, who are poor, who are landless, and who stay around this place. We consciously took a decision that we need to come and visit them and see how they live. We will as government as Dr Kenneth Kaunda Municipality … contributing towards humanity by helping them. We want nothing in return from them, but we want them to feel [that they are] part of South Africa. They must be bold and stand up and say we are part of this government.”

"We have heard that most of them are complaining about housing they are prepared to stay in RDP houses. They say we want RDP houses because they can't afford to build ourselves or buy big houses. So, we are going to engage the Department of Human Settlements in the North West. They are requesting to have a mobile clinic because there are people who travel four kilometres to and from the clinic and they have kids who are travelling four kilometres to access primary school in town,” she adds.

Some of the residents have expressed their happiness regarding the district mayor's visit and promises.

“The visit is very good for all of us … the people must just take the opportunity. We are very happy that someone heard our cries in Orkney Vaal. So I applaud what the government is doing now or trying to do for us,” says one community member.

Pastor Petro Kotze is a local community leader who has been attempting to assist these residents.

She in fact has facilitated the visit by the district municipality.

“I think is a special occasion to do this thing on Human Rights Day because South Africa has this thing of having rights and one of the rights is to live with dignity. To live with dignity is to have an income. It means you have a roof over your head, it means you have opportunities to go and study. It means we can work together. So, I am so glad for the mayor for being here and for extending her hand to us and all this projects that she has in place, we are really excited about this,” adds pastor Kotze.

Other things that the district has promised the residents, is opportunities for employment particularly for the youth.

Children walking long distances to school will be provided with bicycles.

Meanwhile, President Jacob Zuma has called on South Africans to unite against racism during his national address on Human Rights Day at the packed 85 000-seat Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban.

Zuma called on everyone to work together and eliminate racism and its manifestations in South Africa.

“Earlier this year, our country experienced explosions of anger due to racist utterances and writings which reminded South Africans that the vestiges of white supremacy and racism still exist in some sections of society,” said Zuma in apparent reference to the offensive remarks made by KwaZulu-Natal realtor, Penny Sparrow.

Sparrow landed herself at the centre of a race-row that gripped the country after she took to Facebook and described black beachgoers as “monkeys”, in an apparent reaction to litter left behind after New Year’s celebrations.

Zuma said: “It became clear that there are people who still yearn for the past, where black people were treated like second class citizens because of their skin colour.”

The President said that there was still a long way to go before institutionalised racism could be reversed and for prejudices to be removed. He urged South Africans to join the journey towards building a new society.

“Government has since 1994, worked systematically to reverse the legacy of apartheid and racial discrimination. We wish to emphasise and reiterate our determination as government to put an end to racial discrimination in all its forms and wherever it occurs,” said Zuma.-Additional reporting by ANA

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