KZN Premier calls for shared, prosperous future after July unrest

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KwaZulu-Natal Premier Sihle Zikalala has called on the people of the province to build a shared future with prosperity for all in the aftermath of the July unrest.

He was speaking at a celebration of the country’s diverse heritage in Pietermaritzburg. More than 350 people died in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng in 10 days of widespread looting and violence. In places, the unrest caused tensions between different communities.

While progress is being made to heal those rifts, Zikalala has called on people to move beyond the events of July.

The heritage celebration in the Northdale suburb of Pietermaritzburg represented many shades of the South African rainbow. Among the artists who entertained people were Maskandi artists David Jenkins – known as Qadasi – and Maqhinga Radebe, accompanied by Nash Pillay on traditional Indian hand drums.

The day after the 24th September – traditionally celebrated in KwaZulu-Natal as Shaka Day – Premier Sihle Zikalala spoke to the people of Northdale about unity. He says as efforts continue to heal rifts racial rifts in some areas after July, it is time for the people of the province to embrace peace and work towards shared prosperity.

” We have this vision. It is a vision of building a model citizen who abhors crime, who does not tolerate corruption. Who does not tolerate the abuse of women and children. A model citizen who acts in solidarity with his or her fellow human beings, and who is free of the prison of racial hatred and tribalism.”

Northdale is one of the areas where a peace committee was formed in the wake of the unrest. This was after 4 people died when several homes were set alight in the Khan Road informal settlement. The situation in the suburb was tense after a liquor store and some shops were looted.

Zikalala says, as is the case with the violence in the Phoenix area. the law must take its course.

Peace march in Phoenix:

“But it must look at how we ensure that Northdale communities live together, and are socialised together, as communities who share the very same neighbourhood. So we would want to see the development of peace. We would want to see this become a peace and development committee.”

Meanwhile, Economic Development MEC Ravi Pillay paid tribute to people who sought to bring people together when the unrest sowed division. People helped to rebuild destroyed homes in Northdale and feed those who were hungry. Pillay says there is now a request for government to help deal with some of the root causes of tension.

“They also said there are practical things that we need to do as government working with the people, in relation to water, in relation to electricity, in relation to agricultural projects, but also simple things. Premier, like Home Affairs helping people to get their IDs and birth certificates. And these are things that we committed to do.”

Zikalala has paid tribute to artists who awaken a nation’s consciousness but who have endured severe hardship during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We wish to acknowledge that as government we are fully aware of difficulties this sector has gone through, especially during the period of COVID-19. The pandemic has brought untold hardship and destroyed the creative industry and other industries linked to it.”