Alexandra: South Africa should use the 100 years centenary of Alexandra Township to build a more united and prosperous country built on a foundation of Ubuntu, said President Jacob Zuma.
This as Johannesburg’s township marked 100 years of its existence on Saturday. Alexandra was first proclaimed as a township for white workers who were removed from Johannesburg city centre in 1905. In 1912 the plots in Alexandra were sold to African and Coloured people with freehold rights, making the place a Native township.
“We must use this milestone to dedicate ourselves more than ever before to build a united and prosperous SA built on the foundation of Ubuntu, dignity and respect. Whatever challenges we face we will overcome working together,” said Zuma, at the celebrations at the Alexandra Stadium.
The President said the township oozed pride and resilience while it was also associated with well-known South Africans like Joe Modise and the Mahotela Queens.
South Africans need to stand up for their rights without losing their dignity, he said.
“South Africans are not hooligans we are a nation of proud, respectful people who stand up for their rights and do so without losing their dignity and Ubuntu. We must promote this national pride as we don’t want the world to develop a wrong impression of South African people,” the President said, adding that societies need to take stock and reflect on themselves.
“We must not be shy to reflect on what has gone wrong within society in general. We’ve heard of shocking incidents of men raping little girls. This is not a society or nation we want,” he told residents who came out in numbers to witness the celebrations.
The country needed to reflect on causes of brutality and how these could be stopped as perpetrators came from communities.
“It’s a painful reality for every society to have to deal with but we have to confront it. I believe we must have this discussion about the renewal of the social fibre of communities without delay. We have a proud historical and political heritage as a people and we must guard it jealously,” said President Zuma.
He urged society to bring back a culture of peaceful protest, of upholding the right to life. “The culture of violent protest which threatens lives and property have no place in a democratic society when people have a government that they can talk to through various structures. We cannot destroy that which we have built ourselves and we cannot continue organising protests in which people die.”
This, he said, calls for serious reflection “among ourselves about the way in which we do things.”
President Zuma warned against workers negotiating labour issues without labour unions.
“Workers of Alex and anywhere in our country should not think that what happened in Marikana is the way to go when workers chase away trade unions and negotiate their own deal with employers, that is a danger, workers in the past didn’t have trade unions and they were not protected they were victims of employers.”
The President added that he would make a follow up visit to Alexandra.
The celebrations were also attended by Deputy Minister in the Presidency responsible for Performance Monitoring and Evaluation Obed Bapela, Public Enterprises Malusi Gigaba, Gauteng Premier Nomvula Mokonyane and Johannesburg Mayor Parks Tau among others.
Prior to the address at the stadium President Zuma and his delegation visited the Nelson Mandela Yard Heritage Precinct to plant a tree. In 1940, Mandela left home in the Transkei and moved to Johannesburg, Alexandra where he found lodging with a local reverend before moving next door. The house, which had no water or electricity at the time, is on Richard Baloyi and 7th avenue.
Meanwhile, artists like Blondie Makhene entertained residents in the packed to capacity stadium throughout the day.