Speaker of Parliament Thandi Modise. Picture: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency(ANA)

Cape Town - The presiding officers of Parliament have called on all South Africans to embrace diversity and tolerance as well as focus on what united the nation when Heritage Day is celebrated on Tuesday.

In a statement issued on Monday, National Assembly Speaker Thandi Modise and National Council of Provinces chairperson Amos Masondo said the country’s diversity was reflected in the rich spread of languages where about 25 languages were spoken.

Modise and Masondo also said provision of language facilitation services in the legislative sector, including translation and the sign language, played a pivotal role in facilitating and enhancing communication between communities and Parliament.

“Every South African can freely express themselves in any of the official languages when participating in the work of parliament as translation services are readily available,”they said.

“We hope by the end of the Sixth Parliament, we would have achieved our goal of availing Parliamentary documents in all indigenous languages as this will ensure that all official languages are treated equitably and enjoy parity of esteem, as outlined in the constitution.”

"It is also a clarion call for all communities to preserve, restore and reclaim the country’s living heritage. In every community, there are living human treasures who possess a high degree of knowledge, skills and history about different aspects of diverse living, that should be harnessed."

They said the recent attacks on foreign nationals and killing of women and children were things to be ashamed of as a nation and collectively pledge to rid the country of these unspeakable acts.

"We trust that together, with the criminal justice system and our partners from across the spectrum, we will deal harshly with the perpetrators of violence and remain vigilant in reversing these bad trends,” Modise and Masondo said.

Political Bureau