Don’t retreat, premier implores ‘white brothers’

COME TOGETHER: From left, Deputy Tourism Minister Thoko Xasa, Elundini local municipality mayor Nonkongozelo Lengs and Premier Phumulo Masualle sing at the Freedom Day celebrations in Maclear Picture: LOYISO MPALANTSHANE
COME TOGETHER: From left, Deputy Tourism Minister Thoko Xasa, Elundini local municipality mayor Nonkongozelo Lengs and Premier Phumulo Masualle sing at the Freedom Day celebrations in Maclear Picture: LOYISO MPALANTSHANE
Staying  away from public events is not a solution to challenges facing the country.

That’s the message premier Phumulo Masualle sent to “minority groups” who boycotted provincial Freedom Day celebrations in Maclear yesterday.

Masualle was responding to those who saw nothing to celebrate in the face of xenophobia, destruction of colonial and apartheid statues, extreme poverty, high crime and joblessness.

While a few ANC supporters dressed in party colours danced and sang struggle songs inside a marquee at Maclear High School sports grounds, other locals were busy shopping, visiting graves of loved ones or simply going about their daily lives in the townships, a stone’s throw from the significant event.

Masualle said he sympathised with the minority groups’ concerns but disagreed with their boycotting of government events to show their unhappiness. “We have a dispensation where we must talk with each other, we must journey together so we can overcome these obstacles,” he said.

He condemned acts of lawlessness, saying “ our brothers from the white community ... our future is intertwined. I invite you not to retreat but to move forward.”

In town, 25-year-old builder Gerrie Venter said destruction of statues was proof of inequality. “Why destroy history if we are all equal? You have your own history and you won’t be happy if we destroy your monuments. What will our children learn if we destroy history, no matter the race,” said Venter.

Clerk Shanta Saunders said high crime and unemployment were undermining the freedom struggle.

In nearby Topblock informal settlement residents complained about lack of basic services. Unemployed resident Lungisa Nozombini, 26, said about 300 shacks had to share six toilets. “We live in darkness, we drink water with animals. Do you call that freedom?”

The 2015 Freedom Day festivities began with a 21km marathon with R10000 in prize money on offer. — loyisom@dispatch.co.za

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