/ 21 March 2008

Human Rights Day in the ‘so-called new South Africa’


Racism, discrimination and the cultural divide were causes for concern in South Africa, political parties and organisations said on Human Rights Day. Western Cape acting premier Leonard Ramatlakane said a number of projects would be implemented to combat racial discrimination in the province.

”We see racial divide in the housing situation in the province, we see it with controversies around sports teams and we even see it in our schools when there is conflict between learners of different race groups,” he said at the Cape Town Festival on Friday.

”There is a definite need for the ‘home for all’ campaign and there is definitely a need for ‘one city, many cultures … projects such as these can hopefully play a role in helping us remember our history and making sure that we never ever go back to where we come from,” he said.

So-called new South Africa

Pan African Youth Congress president Hulisani Mmbara said the government needed to take drastic action and make all racist practices criminal offences, punished by stiffer prison sentences.

Speaking at the 48th anniversary commemoration of the Sharpeville massacre in Sharpeville, Mmbara said: ”Fourteen-years into the so-called new South Africa, the African people, who are [a] majority and [the] indigenous people of the land, still own a mere 13% of the land.

”Our youth are denied access to education and those who manage to pay for higher learning do not get employment opportunities because of the state’s refusal to provide free education and take charge of the economy of the country respectively.”

The Azanian People’s Organisation held a Human Rights Day march in Johannesburg which ended at Constitutional Hill in Hillbrow.

Chairperson Moemedi Kepadisak said the key objectives of the march was to demand public-service delivery and to call upon the Constitutional Court to up-hold and enforce social-economic rights enshrined in the Constitution.

The Freedom Front Plus said that internationally, the objective of human rights was to protect individuals and minorities against discrimination and the abuse of government power.

‘The Andre Nel debacle’

”In South Africa, certain individuals and minorities experience more discrimination against them. This is the result of the government’s racially based policies in sport, in the economy and in the workplace,” said FF+ leader, Pieter Mulder.

”The Andre Nel cricket debacle in sports, unfair benefiting of blacks in the economy and affirmative action in the workplace confirm this. Transformation should mean that equal opportunities are created for all people,” he said.

Gauteng provincial health minister Brian Hlongwa addressed a congregation of about 20 000 people at a Good Friday service held by the Grace Bible Church at the Jabulani Amphitheatre in Soweto.

”The number of people who are sick and need assistance and care from health workers is forever increasing, therefore they need your prayers.”

He also encouraged pastors to spread the work of safer sex as the number of people who are infected with HIV/Aids ”was forever increasing”.

The Democratic Alliance sent best wishes to all on Human Rights Day.

Clive Hatch, a member of the provincial legislature, said: ”At this special time, remember to drive safely to ensure we all arrive alive, and let’s use this wonderful opportunity to be together as families and communities.” – Sapa