Deputy President David Mabuza preached unity in his Heritage Day message as he officiated a ceremony in Kokstad, KwaZulu-Natal, where the municipal building was renamed the Adam Kok III building, after the leader of the Griqua people.
A statue in honour of the leader was also unveiled as part of the country’s Heritage Day celebrations.
Addressing a large crowd afterwards at the Riverview Stadium, Mabuza took the opportunity to not only pay respect to the Griqua people, but to honour the late minister of environmental affairs, Edna Molewa, who passed away on Saturday.
“Mme Molewa was a gallant fighter of our freedom, who at the time of her passing served as our minister of environmental affairs. Ms Molewa was an outstanding servant of our people. She possessed extraordinary skills as an organiser, a thinker, a strategist, a leader with the common touch – grounded in the plight and aspirations of our people,” Mabuza said.
Mabuza said that Monday’s celebrations were to pay tribute to all “those that who came before us in making a South Africa of our dreams that is united in diversity”.
“We come to celebrate our heritage and to wallow in this spring of our diversity with a single objective of raising the sun of hope that unity, despite all our differences, is our defining strength,” he said.
Mabuza also conveyed his condolences to Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini, whose son Prince Butho Zulu passed away.
“His passing makes this day all the more wrought with a twist of pain, a spear to the heart, as the Zulu nation would have celebrated with us in part the commemoration of King Shaka’s Day,” he said.
Mabuza didn’t shy away from the recent tensions which have gripped the nation, calling for people to unite, despite the “divisions of our past”.
“Even though there is no need for divisions, for if we hold our hands together in addressing the imbalances of the past, we are guaranteeing future generations a prosperous South Africa worthy of inheritance,” he said.
He called upon South Africans to speak about the future, and to teach one another about the complexities of our heritage in order to move forward as a prosperous nation.
“Let us remind one another that a person’s heritage should not be exclusionary but be all embracing of others. As we celebrate this important day, we must confront with determination, the historical fault lines and injustices that continue to threaten our peace and stability so that we can finally move forward as one people, one nation and one South Africa founded on shared values,” he said.
Mabuza called for the nation to move forward and to not allow the past to dictate the future.
Meanwhile, the EFF again called for the removal of Die Stem from the National Anthem in its Heritage Day message.
EFF spokesperson Mbuyiseni Ndlozi also called on the government to remove apartheid and colonial statues along with Die Stem.
“These symbols perpetuate the comfort of racists and white supremacy,” Ndlozi said in a statement.
The DA hosted Heritage Day celebrations in Kempton Park, Johannesburg, at the Codesa walkway.
DA leader Mmusi Maimane said it was important that South Africans reminded themselves that it was possible to sit down and talk, just like it was done during the negotiations, for a better nation.
“This is always a gentle reminder that even the worst of enemies, where there was a system of racial oppression, people could sit around the table and negotiate a future for all,” Maimane said.
- Additional reporting by News24