Bloemfontein – South Africa’s "Westernised" calendar does
not please everyone, the Commission for the Promotion and
Protection of the Rights of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic
Communities (CRL) heard on Thursday.
"We cannot as Africans live [according to] a Westernised
calendar. We must get our own, such as the Chinese, who
have their own," a member of the public told a CRL hearing in
The meeting was to hear input on the revision of public
holidays in South Africa.
The CRL commission would sit in Bethlehem on Friday.
Representatives of various religions and cultural communities
attended the workshop at the Bram Fischer building in
Delegates said the Christmas and New Year public holidays
only benefited Christians, and had been written into law
through the Public Holidays Act.
"They [Christians] stay at home and relax. They do not lose
money," said a delegate.
The commission heard that followers of other religions had to
take leave for their own religious holidays.
Members of the Basotho, Khoi-Khoi and Khoi-San said they
would also like to have national days on South Africa’s
CRL chief executive officer Pheagane Moreroa said many
delegates were not comfortable with a calendar being
imposed on them. He said the idea was not to have 365
public holidays for the country.
"We cannot allow that everything becomes a public holiday,
because we would never work, but this is about minority
rights and their rights must be protected."
Moreroa said the commission was trying to help minority
"Remember we are trying to build a nation, we are trying to
create social coherence and we are trying to create peace."
Moreroa sought to assure the gathering that the commission
was looking for results, so the rights of minority religious
groups could be recognised.