Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality’s Executive Mayor Benson Fihla made a call to residents during Freedom Day celebrations on Saturday for sincere introspection to determine the role, or lack thereof, towards building the vision of a South Africa that belongs to all.
“During this 19th celebration of our freedom we should ask ourselves what we have done, as individuals and communities, to translate into reality the vision that South Africa belongs to all. We should ask ourselves whether we have worked towards the goal of a city whose citizens are equal or whether we have sought to entrench the inequalities of the past,” Mayor Fihla, affectionately known as Oom Ben, said.
“During our years of freedom, South Africa has steadily become a country that belongs to all because, in part, where there could have been serious racial conflicts because of our unfortunate past, our people,particularly those who were oppressed, have offered the hand of friendship and forgiven those who were responsible for their untold suffering.
“Yet the challenges we are still facing are many and big. Theyare many and big because the legacy of colonialism and apartheid runs very deep. They are many and big because we have limited resources which cannot address all these challenges at the same time.
“Even though all of us know that these challenges are many and big, some among us think that it is solely the responsibility of government to address them. Let us work together to mobilize all our people and continue to engage in the programmes of our city that will bring about change,” he added.
With reference to the aim of the Freedom Day Walk against Violent Crime and Abuse of Women and Children that formed part of the programme, Oom Ben stated: “Where there is violence, there can be no development. Where there is violence, there can be no peace. Where there is violence, there can be no progress.”
He committed himself and his team of Councillors to an active community engagement programme, emphasising that there would henceforth be more action and less talk: he and his team of Councillors would spend much more time out in the communities, interacting and engaging with community members,than in boardroom meetings. Teams have already been appointed to focus on challenges and hotspot areas, and the Mayor gave the reassurance that senior management positions in the Municipality,which had long been vacant, would be filled by the end of June, lending stability to the institutions.
“Let us remember the major sacrifices that many paid for us to be here today to celebrate the freedom and rights we all enjoy in a democratic South Africa. Let’s walk the road together towards a non-racist and non-sexist and non-violent South Africa!” concluded Mayor Fihla.
Cllr Fikile Desi, Constituency Coordinator of the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality, who co-chaired proceedings with MPL Christian Martin, reminded the audience of the transgressions and abuses of the Apartheid system and the cruel restrictions it placed on the freedom of the broad masses of South Africans.
The vibrant entertainment programme provided, in which the audience actively participated, included dancing, singing and rapping.
Dignitaries at the event included ANC Member of Parliament Hope Malgas, ANC Member of the Eastern Cape Provincial Legislature Christian Martin, the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality’s Chief Whip, Cllr Joy Seale, various Mayoral Committee members, including Cllrs Fikile Desi, Andile Mfunda and Thembinkosi Mafana, municipal councillors and officials and residents from various areas of Nelson Mandela Bay.
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