Buthelezi talks Indian ‘social cohesion’
INKATHA Freedom Party leader Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi will address the Consulate General of India in Durban this morning on the impact of the arrival of Indians on the culture of South Africa as efforts continue for social cohesion, particularly between Indians and Africans.
Earlier this year, at a Human Rights Day celebration, Buthelezi lauded the Indian community in Kwazulu-natal for assisting him fight apartheid financially as well as the efforts it had undertaken to build schools for black people when his party headed the provincialgovernment in the 1990s.
Last month marked the 158th anniversary of the arrival of Indian indentured labourers on South African shores, under the promise of a better life, to work on sugar-cane plantations and in agriculture.
Neeshan Balton, executive director of the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation, said that there was no specific South African culture as that was still work in progress.
“Only in 1960 or 1961 were Indians accepted as residents of South Africa, up until then the agenda of the National Party was to repatriate them,” said Balton.
He said that it was after the dawn of democracy in 1994 that different cultures and communities in SA would have had a greater possibility of exchanging and understanding each other’s culture.
“The impact of any specific group’s culture on the others in this country has been minimal, precisely because of the divisions of the past. However, there are aspects of Indian culture that I think would be of benefit to the future South African culture.
“The emphasis on education that has emerged in the last 20 or 30 years has really been something that has put that community in a good stead and has enabled it to take major advantages of this democracy,” Balton said.
He added that South Africans were currently at a stage of tolerance where they accepted each others’ languages, music and religion.
However in recent years, despite efforts for social cohesion, political leaders such as Julius Malema, leader of the Economic Freedom Fighters, had been vocal on the tensions between Indians and Africans.
In June, during a Youth Day rally, Malema said that the majority of Indians were racist and that they hated Africans.
However, Balton agreed that there had historically been tensions between Indians and Africans.
“Many of those tensions were really amongst poor Africans and poor Indians fighting for very, very scarce resources and jobs particularly in the KZN area and those divisions were deepened by Group Areas divisions, educational divisions and job classification divisions with communities pitted against each other,” Balton said.
He warned that leaders who made generalised statements did not help to address the problem.
MINISTER Jeff Radebe said the SA Nuclear Energy Corporation ran into a series of governance issues.