Johannesburg - The Commission for the Protection and Promotion of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities (CRL) accused the ACDP on Monday of jumping the gun on Christian holidays.
CRL head Wesley Mabuza said the commission was merely calling for other religious groups to also be accommodated or integrated.
“Our mandate is to protect the cultures and religions of all communities. If we called for the removal of the Christian holidays, we would be failing to protect the Christian religion,” said Mabuza who is a Methodist Church pastor.
Members of the African Christian Democratic Party protested in Johannesburg on Saturday, and said the CRL should “keep its hands off Christmas and Good Friday”.
They said they had heard that the commission was exploring the idea of asking the government to scrap the two religious holidays from the national calendar.
They handed a memorandum of understanding to Home Affairs Minister Naledi Pandor in which they said the removal of the holidays would be discriminatory, as 79,5 percent of South Africa's population was Christian.
Mabuza said the commission was aware that there were already too many holidays in the calendar..
“Tomorrow (Tuesday) is Diwali. Hindu people looking to celebrate the holiday will have to put in leave. We are saying for equality sake, can they not be given a day off instead of having to take it from their leave days,” said Mabuza.
The Hindu holiday is marked by the setting off of fireworks to symbolise the victory of good over evil, and follows a month-long fast.
“How do we also make them feel at home in this country?” asked Mabuza.
He called on ACDP leader Kenneth Meshoe to join the CRL in its call.
“(He) is in Parliament. He has the platform to rectify this and ask them to rectify this (inequality) and accommodate everyone,” Mabuza said.
Pandor told the ACDP protesters she had not yet received a report on the matter from the CRL.
Mabuza said a report was being compiled and that it would probably be completed by the end of January. - Sapa