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Heritage Day is about observing what unites us as a nation - Parliament

In a statement on Thursday, Parliament’s presiding officers said despite the most depressing challenges this year had brought, ubuntu, human dignity, and human decency, saw South Africans rise together against a deadly global pandemic.

FILE: Traditional Dancers at the Heritage Day celebrations at James Motlatsi Stadium in Orkney, North West in 2014. Picture: GCIS.

CAPE TOWN - Parliament on Thursday said Heritage Day was about observing what united South Africans and what made its people stronger to withstand testing times.

“It’s a day for us to pause and take time to remind ourselves about what unites us. It’s an opportunity to reflect on our common journey as a people, and how we, together, can do more to build that South Africa of which our Constitution speaks so eloquently and for which we yearn,” Parliament’s presiding officers said in a statement.

“It is about celebrating South Africa’s rich tapestry of people (who the apartheid regime sought to divide and rule on the basis of race), with their varying languages and cultures, human solidarity, human dignity, unity, and respect, among other things.

“It is about observing what unites us, what makes us stronger to withstand testing times, as we build a truly non-racial, non-sexist, united, and prosperous nation.”

South Africans mark Heritage Day on 24 September every year and are encouraged to use the day to celebrate their culture and the diversity of their beliefs and traditions.

Usually, several events are staged throughout the country to commemorate this day, but celebrations were being done differently this year amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

Parliament’s presiding officers said despite the most depressing challenges this year had brought, ubuntu, human dignity, and human decency, saw South Africans rise together against a deadly global pandemic that tested health systems and ravaged economies of even the strongest nations.

As the battle against COVID-19 continued, officials have paid tribute to all frontline workers for their courage and selflessness during the pandemic.

“However, through the unity of purpose, partnerships, and synergies that characterise our true being as a nation, we prevailed against a common enemy, resulting in the easing of our COVID-19 regulations to level 1. As the battle continues, we pay tribute to all frontline workers, at the heart of our fight against the pandemic, for their courage, their noble selflessness,” the statement read.

Parliament added that rebuilding the economy would require South Africans to tap into the spirit of ubuntu by ensuring a united front to tackle the socio-economic hardships brought about by this pandemic.

“As government and its social partners in Nedlac have agreed on a roadmap to get the nation out of this quagmire, we must, also, during this time, look after one another. We must be each other’s keeper, particularly when it comes to those hit hardest by this virus.”

Parliament’s presiding officers further condemned acts of corruption involving funds meant to deal with the pandemic, saying some individuals and companies had sought to unscrupulously benefit from the crisis by embezzling money intended to save lives, particularly of the poor.

“Such brazen disregard for the sanctity of life and the greediness goes against everything we should stand for as a nation, particularly during a crisis of this magnitude.

“We strongly condemn such rampant acts of corruption and urge the criminal justice system to leave no stone unturned in bringing justice, particularly to the poorest of the poor.”

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