Heed Sharp­ton’s ad­vice

The Sunday Independent - - NEWS -

OUT­SPO­KEN Amer­i­can civil rights ac­tivist, Reverend Al Sharp­ton, a trusted ad­viser to former US pres­i­dent Barack Obama, has called on the gov­ern­ment and lead­ers in South Africa to shelve their dif­fer­ences for the sake of the country.

Sharp­ton, 63, re­minded lead­ers that the country’s democ­racy was achieved through activism.

Apart from be­ing at the fore­front of the op­po­si­tion to Donald Trump’s pres­i­dency, Sharp­ton has 40 years of civil rights activism to his name.

He spoke to In­de­pen­dent Me­dia at iNkosi Al­bert Luthuli In­ter­na­tional Con­ven­tion Centre, hav­ing made his an­nual trek to the city for the sec­ond Essence Fes­ti­val. The fes­ti­val, which orig­i­nated in New Or­leans, ends to­day. It aims to cel­e­brate the city’s cul­ture and mu­sic.

“We should re­mem­ber that a quar­ter of a cen­tury ago demo­cratic free­dom was achieved here.

“There­fore, we should not taint the fact that activism, which in­cluded the ef­forts of labour unions, helped to take down apartheid po­lit­i­cally.”

He was speak­ing in re­sponse to trade union Cosatu’s coun­try­wide strike this week when thousands downed tools and em­barked on strike action to voice their dis­ap­proval on state cap­ture and cor­rup­tion.

He said worker’s rights must be re­spected, that peo­ple be al­lowed to do business, and gov­ern­ment en­sure heal­ing from pre­vi­ous hurts hap­pened. “Gov­ern­ment must not be the re­plac­ers of op­pres­sion, they must be the ones stamp­ing it out. Even if it meant they are the ones who made ad­just­ments; put the cause of the country ahead of per­sonal agen­das.”

Sharp­ton said he was ex­cited about the fes­ti­val.

“It has be­come a smash­ing suc­cess. The en­ergy and en­thu­si­asm is amaz­ing, and I’m proud to see Essence has made a bond with the business lead­er­ship here in Dur­ban. I look for­ward to watch­ing it grow.”

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