“This celebration should not be an empty ritual filled with song and dance only. In order to be meaningful it must focus on the challenges of the present," the IFP said in a statement issued by Blessed Gwala, the party leader in the KZN Legislature.
President Jacob Zuma is leading the national commemoration of Human Rights Day in King Williams Town, Eastern Cape, where Black Consciousness leader Steve Biko is being honoured posthumously for his role in the struggle against apartheid.
"If today we merely speak about past achievements, we will have failed to bring forward the eternal quest for human rights protection. We need to address present day challenges rather than merely resting upon yesterday’s laurels," said Gwala.
“If we are to truly celebrate Human Rights Day, government needs to act fast in providing basic services to the people and eradicating corruption." Gwala said 22 years into democracy, the majority of South Africans were "fast becoming impatient with government" for failing to provide them with basic services guaranteed in the Constitution.
"We call on the provincial government and local government to look into issues surrounding most the most affected our people in our province and address challenges related to the provision of decent housing and effective service delivery, ” said Gwala.
“Furthermore, racism at all levels must be tackled with vigour to rid our society of all the remnants of the evil apartheid system. Racism is like a disease that disturbs our peace and restrains our prosperity as a country. Also young people should be empowered with skills and knowledge on how to accept and respect people’s differences."
Gwala said the message this year must centre around embracing the rich cultural diversity of South Africa – with all its challenges and contradictions.
"If we do not, we will not be able to have an honest conversation about our divided past, nor will we be in a position to craft our shared future.”