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25 Sep 2004 09:58
No one in South Africa should feel they have to set aside their own particular cultural identity in favour of a “one-size-fits-all approach”, Democratic Alliance (DA) leader Tony Leon said on Friday.
Leon, at the DA’s Heritage Day celebration at the Old Recreation Club Hall in Cullinan, was mounting another attack on President Thabo Mbeki and the ANC-led government.
“To be a South African today should mean that you can speak any language, you can have any skin colour, you can practise any faith and hold any political viewpoint. No South African should ever feel that their individuality is being threatened by the constant pressure to conform to a ‘national consensus’.
“The ANC doesn’t agree with that,” Leon claimed.
“The ANC believes there are certain prescribed ideal types to which everyone must submit, rather than expressing the diversity of individual identities and histories that the South African people have to offer.”
Leon referred to Mbeki’s State of the Nation address, in which according to Leon the president announced that his government would be conducting, a thorough review of the impact of socio-economic transformation on social cohesion within communities and across society as a whole.
Leon said: “According to the president, this review would draw conclusions about the role and place of family, value systems, identity and moral regeneration, and will help us better understand who we are and better appreciate quality of life beyond the material.
Leon asked: “Who is the ANC government to pronounce on such issues as ‘the role of the family’, ‘value systems’ and, perhaps most disturbingly, our ‘identity’?
“Certainly the government is in no position to ‘help us better understand who we are’.
There was a “clear danger” that the government would use this review to propagate the ANC’s own answers to these questions to promote its “narrow ideological agenda”, Leon said.
Leon further accused the ANC of pursuing policies in schools and the media which threatened to erode the Afrikaans language and which targeted people on the basis of colour.
“The language diversity at the SABC is being mocked by the ANC’s attempt to impose its racial agenda there. The ANC is forcing out some of the best and most experienced presenters on the English-language radio service simply because of their skin colour,” said Leon. - Sapa
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