President Jacob Zuma, Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, ministers and deputy ministers in support of the Africa Day 2017 celebration which will take place today. Picture: GCIS

Political parties on Thursday called on Africans to unite in order to tackle the various challenges currently facing the continent.

This comes as various celebratory events were hosted across the country to commemorate Africa Day 2017.

Africa Day is celebrated annually on May 25 within the African continent to mark the formation of the Organisation of African Unity on 25 May 1963, and the African Union in 2002.

Earlier, President Jacob Zuma spoke out on the need for foreigners and locals to unite in tackling serious crimes within their communities. 

Speaking at an address in Pretoria, Zuma said foreigners living in South Africa had always lived in harmony and peace with citizens the various communities.

 "They [people from fellow African states] have lived in peace and friendship with South Africans and should continue to do so. We urge all communities to isolate criminal elements whose behaviour causes tensions at times amongst our peoples," said Zuma.

Zuma also used the event to urge fellow Africans, drawn and pushed to South Africa, to continue living in peace with locals.

At another event, EFF leader Julius Malema called for Africans to unite in order to reclaim the continent’s resources.

Malema blasted South Africans for calling white people doing business in Africa “investors” while referring to Somalian shopkeepers as “makwerekwere”.

“White people need to respect Africans and stop treating us as subhumans,” he told supporters.

In a statement, the African National Congress used the day to celebrate the various achievements made in the continent, including the establishment of the Organisation of African Unity, a forerunner to the African Union.

“Africa should be justly proud of the road we have travelled in realising aspirations of unity eloquently championed by Nkruma and those African Leaders at the founding of the Organisation of African Union in 1963, that Africa must unite now or perish,” the party said.

“From the very onset, Africans realised the struggle against colonialism does not end with the attainment of national independence.”

The party also said that despite the myriad of challenges faced by the continent, there have been a number of developmental and democratic gains on the continent that give cause for greater optimism.

Furthermore, while the continent was currently tackling issues such as civil warfare and xenophobia, Africans, not just the heads of governments, were urged to actively work towards the realisation of a better, more prosperous and secure Africa.

Meanwhile, the Pan Africanist Congress used the day to lash out at South Africans for failing to honour the day.

The party blasted locals for acting as if the country existed outside the continent, by being selective over which holidays they wanted to commemorate.

“We cannot be seen celebrating selective/elite holidays like Christmas Day, Easter et al while we ignore our own values,” the party said in a statement.

“This is a hangover of how colonialism has done to our minds. How do we celebrate foreign heritage and history while we are ashamed of our own.”

The party called on South Africans to not only celebrate the day, as the continent had so little to celebrate, but also use it as a platform to reflect on the past and rectify the mistakes made by leaders.