Zuma: social cohesion as important as basic services
Yesterday, President Jacob Zuma visited the Bethlehem informal settlement outside Pretoria: a gesture he described as confirmation that government is “committed to all South Africans, regardless of colour, race or creed.”
Zuma’s address to Bethlehem residents, most of whom are white, focused on the universal “indignity of poverty” and emphasised government’s continuing efforts to expand access to basic services and social assistance. The need to access these amenities and services, Zuma stated, has “no colour”.
However, beyond concerns over health care, water and electrification in impoverished communities around the country, Zuma also used the address to call on all South Africans to work together to “build a common nationhood” and strengthen unity and reconciliation.
Here, he alluded to the recent ruling of the Johannesburg High Court that the use of the phrase dubul’ ibhunuo (widely translated as “shoot the boer“), lyrics that form part of a historic anti-apartheid struggle song, was unconstitutional and unlawful.
The ruling has provoked negative responses from a number of organisations, including the ANC and its Youth League and COSATU, and resulted in calls for a new national debate on cultural heritage. Media reports also suggest that the ANC plans to challenge the ruling in the Constitutional Court.
This controversy, Zuma suggested to the Bethlehem community, is an indication that South Africans “have not yet effectively dealt with issues of history and heritage in our country”.
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