DURBAN - PREMIER Sihle Zikalala has called on KwaZulu-Natal citizens to support the government’s efforts to advance social cohesion, peace and nation-building.
Zikalala spoke on Saturday during the provincial Heritage Day celebration at Northdale in Pietermaritzburg.
This year Heritage Month is being celebrated under the theme, “The year of Charlotte Maxeke: Celebrating South Africa’s Intangible Cultural Heritage”.
Northdale is one of the areas that were severely affected during the July unrest.
Zikalala said: “It was tragic and heart wrenching to see Northdale descend to the levels of violence in July. We learned that in the aftermath of the burning of people’s homes, no less than four people lost their lives.”
The premier reflected on the meeting that was attended by the Peace and Development Committee. It comprised residents from Northdale communities who were in conflict. The meeting was aimed at fostering social cohesion, reconciliation and peace.
“It was clear that there is a need to bring dignity to the informal settlement residents by building them proper houses and to provide them with basic services like water and electricity. We welcome the message from the residents of Northdale who are emphatic that they want to live side by side in peace with the residents from the informal settlement. Through continuous talks, people from both sides are now able to find each other. They now understand each other’s plight.”
Zikalala added that there was a need for citizens in the province to overcome inequality and material conditions that divided society across racial lines by drawing lessons from the July riots so that “we” emerged stronger and united.
“Peace must be the foundation of our economic reconstruction and recovery plan. We cannot end the high levels of poverty, unemployment, and inequality without peace. We are thus working together with the religious sector, our traditional leaders, and civil society organisations to inculcate positive values that reject violence and crime in our nation.
“We must be united that all those who sow seeds of division and anarchy and instigate violence must face the full might of the law. We must never allow our province to return to the deadly violence of the 80s and the 90s. That violence created orphans and widows and our people still carry their scars. In all that we do, peace must be our way.”
Zikalala said, through the KZN Moral Regeneration and Social Cohesion Council, the intention was to use each day to build bridges and lasting peace.