Political party leaders have descended on to a number of communities across South Africa as the country commemorated Human Rights Day yesterday (today).
On the day, the country commemorates the Sharpeville Massacre of March 21, 1960, when police opened fire on a peaceful protest, killing 69 people and wounding 180 under the oppressive apartheid regime.
President Cyril Ramaphosa officially opened the new Reagile Community Library in Koster in the Kgetlengrevier Municipality, North West province, ahead of delivering the keynote address at the Human Rights Day national event held at the Reagile Sports ground.
The DA’s John Steenhuisen is visiting the rural community of Gemsbokspruit in Mpumalanga to “see for myself” the daily indignities that poverty subjects them to and to hear first-hand about the daily struggle of people to make ends meet.
He said the most pressing and evident human rights violation in South Africa today was crippling poverty.
“On this Human Rights Day, if we are to realise the vision of human dignity for all that is enshrined in the Bill of Rights, we need to commit as a nation to ending poverty which continues to deny more than 60% of South Africans their human rights and basic freedoms.
“This is the fight of our generation, and the fight that the DA will be taking up under my leadership,” he said.
Steenhuisen appealed to all South Africans to get behind the DA’s vision of ending poverty in our lifetime, saying the first step was getting rid of South Africa’s Poverty Cabinet.
ActionSA’s leader Herman Mashaba said the ANC-led government had “betrayed” citizens.
“I am not a betting man, but I know as fact that 28 years into democracy, the people of Sharpeville, in the Vaal Triangle towns of Vereeniging, Vanderbijlpark and Sasolburg, are demonstrably worse off. I know as fact, though I am not proud to admit it, that the people of Giyani, Makhanda and Ka-Nyamazane are worse off.
“Actioners, South Africans, and people of the world, it gives me no joy to note that this pattern is replicated in many parts of our country,” Mashaba said.
He added that the ANC and other parties who were meant to conduct oversight, had betrayed the hopes of citizens.
“They have betrayed our dreams. They have betrayed our aspirations. They have betrayed our faith. They have betrayed our dignity and, most painfully, they have betrayed the very thing we were promised in 1994: a non-racial, unified, inclusive nation that would allow each South African, whether citizen or resident, the opportunities to live safely, benefit economically and thrive in all aspects of human development,” said Mashaba.
The FF Plus called on every person in the country to reflect on mutual respect and to reach out to one another.
The party said the ANC was being hypocritical by celebrating Human Rights Day while it served as a reminder for minorities in South Africa that their rights were being violated.
“The right to mother-tongue education in South Africa is not only being violated but there is also a severe onslaught on Afrikaans and Afrikaans schools; so much so that Afrikaans speakers have had to approach the courts many times in an effort to protect themselves against these attacks.
“Being part of minority groups, white and coloured youths are predominantly discriminated against by Affirmative Action (AA), as is evident in the allocation of bursaries, among other things,” the FF Plus said.