Calls for unity, arts and culture, land by parties this Heritage Day

By Siyabonga Mkhwanazi Time of article published Sep 24, 2021

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The DA, IFP and Good Party have called for unity as the country marks Heritage Day.

This is at the time parties were gearing up for a political battle ahead of the local government elections in November.

DA leader John Steenhuisen on Friday said it was the time for the country to forge unity.

IFP leader Velenkosini Hlabisa in his message said the country should look after the interests of the artists who were affected by Covid-19 and subsequent lockdowns.

Steenhuisen said South Africa was rich in its diversity and people have to embrace that.

He said the people must not be divided but unite against the wrong in society.

“And it is because of this that we will not allow our South African project to be derailed by those who try to divide us once more.

“We haven’t come this far only to be scuppered by people who don’t share our vision – opportunists who seek to advance their own aims by stoking mistrust, fear and resentment among us,” said Steenhuisen.

“Being this melting pot of cultures, languages and religions is our strength.

“It’s not a reason to retreat into little corners of sameness.

“It’s not a reason to seek out only those who look like you and speak like you, and then regard everyone else with suspicion,” he said.

Hlabisa said this was the time to ensure there was unity in the country.

He said arts and culture has been crucial in the history of South Africa.

He called on government to speed up an investigation into the R300m that was allegedly misappropriated last year.

The funds were part of the presidential stimulus package to help artists during lockdown.

Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa revealed recently that a law firm has been appointed to conduct an investigation into the R300m.

“During the unbearable circumstances created by the pandemic, our artists have been subject to the cruelty of corruption and the gross mismanagement of relief funds.

“Earlier this year, it was revealed that R300m, which was allocated by the Presidential Employment Stimulus Programme specifically for artists, simply went missing,” said Hlabisa.

Good party leader Patricia de Lille said they must continue to fight against apartheid-era spatial planning.

She said 27 years into democracy this cycle has not been broken, and it was time to do it.

“We say, public land must be used for public good.

“Maintaining the apartheid shape of our urban areas is a gross injustice.

“And, we say, integrating our people is a necessity if we’re to develop modern and sustainable cities at peace with our divided history,” said De Lille.

“As the GOOD party, we will continue fighting for spatial injustice and turning this painful heritage around in all municipalities we are given an opportunity to govern in,” she said.

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