Heritage Day represents a unique celebration of our cultural identities and our traditions, which all form part of the beautiful cultural tapestry of our country. The IFP has always recognised the unifying nature of the arts, culture, and heritage in South Africa, and has actively pursued the need to preserve and promote our unique heritage and culture.
As South Africans, we pride ourselves on the fact that despite a complex and hurtful past, we have attempted to find reasons to unite in our diversity, instead of allowing it to tear us apart.
In the darkest periods of history, people have always used song, expression, and the arts to transform their grief and fear into hope, in the pursuit of a better future. Now, more than ever, we desperately need the arts to uplift and unite the people of South Africa.
Tragically, the Covid-19 pandemic severely muzzled our ability to unite in song and expression. The creative and cultural industries – which in 2018 alone contributed 1.7% of our GDP received a devastating blow. We have heard tragic stories of artists having to sell their instruments, just to survive. Further, this diverse industry is highly vulnerable and open to abuse, as there is very little protection afforded to artists, most of whom are self-employed.
The pandemic has shown us the urgent need to support our artists and creators. We need to be innovative in supporting those who hold the lifelines of our cultural identity, and demand accountability for inaction from government, who promised to support artists. We need to listen to these artists and performers, and design solutions to assist and help them survive in these desperate times.
During the unbearable circumstances created by the pandemic, our artists have been subject to the cruelty of corruption and the gross mismanagement of relief funds. Earlier this year, it was revealed that R300 million, which was allocated by the Presidential Employment Stimulus Programme specifically for artists, simply went missing.
Where is the accountability?
On this day, we should not only celebrate our culture and heritage, but we should also remind ourselves that our artists and performers rely on our support to survive.
We therefore need to raise our voices against government inaction, and demand accountability. The survival of the beating heart of South Africa depends on our ability to reach out and help our artists.
Hon. Velenkosini Hlabisa, MPL
IFP President and Leader of the Official Opposition in the KZN Legislature
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