DA leader Mmusi Maimane said CODESA "enabled change that builds One South Africa for All". Picture: Bhekikhaya Mabaso/Africa News Agency/(ANA)

Johannesburg - The leader of the Democratic Alliance (DA) Mmusi Maimane on Monday said the Convention for a Democratic South Africa (CODESA) "enabled change that builds One South Africa for All". 

Maimane, made his remarks at a Heritage Day celebration at the CODESA Walkway in Johannesburg. He was joined by DA Gauteng premier candidate, Solly Msimanga, and DA national spokespersons, Solly Malatsi and Refiloe Nt’sekhe.

"Almost 27 years ago, this hallway served as a walkway from Apartheid to democracy. The Convention for a Democratic South Africa (CODESA) Walkway commemorates the talks that laid the foundation for a negotiated settlement and South Africa’s first democratic election," said Maimane.

"It was here that South Africa chose co-operation over intransigence, building over destruction, and unity over division. South Africa chose change that would build One South Africa for All.

"These watershed negotiations gave us the right to be who we choose to be and to self-identify. Our national transition from autocracy to democracy gave us the right to finally be able to say we are all South African."

The DA leader said Heritage Day serves as a constant reminder that "we have more that unites us than divides us. One nation, one people, united in our diversity".

Maimane added: "A diversity that we should all celebrate. Our proud heritage of different cultures and races coming together. This is the tapestry of our nation that we celebrate on Heritage Day.

"We are here because the Constitution enshrines human dignity to those who were once treated as subhuman. Nearly 25 years later, and the values of constitutionalism are still not cemented in our political culture." 

The DA leader warned that there were some who want to divide South Africans. He said they talk of others as though they were second class citizens, because of the colour of their skin. 

"That is racism and tears away the fabric of who we are as a people," said Maimane. "We must build pride in each and every individual so that we never again discriminate because of colour, culture or creed."

Maimane said that his why his DA party exists and why it believes South Africa belongs to all who live in it, black and white.

"We are the only party in South Africa striving for the pursuit of liberty and equality for all people. Because when we have equal opportunity to thrive, we can prosper together, learn from each other and teach each other," said Maimane.

"Our founding father of democratic South Africa taught us that no one is born racist. They have to be taught it and if they can be taught racism, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to human beings."

He said the DA realises that "our injustices" need to be addressed together. 

"When ordinary South Africans come together, we can do extraordinary things," said Maimane.

"It is why we shall never forgo the dream to build one South Africa for all and why it’s not just one heritage that matters. It’s about all of our heritage.

"I close with my own heritage as a proud child of a Tswana father and a Xhosa mother. From my parents, I was taught to have respect for, and work to uphold our culture. In our country today, more must be done to restore the culture of respect among our young people.

"'I also have a heritage where my wife is a white South African and realises the advantages her upbringing came with. We together hand over to our children our legacy which is in many ways the story of South Africa. A story of pain and triumph, success and failure, the privileged and the poor.

"The solution is bringing our people together. I was so proud to be a part of history this last weekend as thousands of South Africans from all walks of life held hands towards ‘One South Africa for All’."

 He said the change that South Africa began here in December 1991 was extra-ordinary. What was then a World Trade Centre is now The CODESA Walkway in a Convention Centre.

African News Agency (ANA)