A group of Khoisan protesters demonstrated outside the ANC Johannesburg conference venue yesterday, demanding that the ruling party convince the Zuma government to listen to their plight.
The small group carried placards demanding to observe the United Nations’ principle on recognising them as the indigenous people and the first nation of South Africa.
The protesters demanded to meet with President Jacob Zuma, whom they accused of ignoring them when they waited to see him outside the Union Buildings, where some of the Khoisan leaders erected a tent and stayed for two weeks in anticipation of a meeting with the president.
The group eventually embarked on a hunger strike, which entered its 10th day yesterday.
They staged a protest march and gave a memorandum of demands to the Minister in the Presidency in charge of monitoring and evaluation, Jeff Radebe.
But Radebe told the marchers that Zuma would only meet them in the second week of January.
“We want to be heard, we want the ANC conference and government to observe the United Nations statutes and hold discussion with us about our plight” said Anthony Williams, the group’s spokesperson, yesterday.
“Our government must observe ILO 169 of the UN, which stipulates for the statutory recognition of indigenous people of a particular country.”
Williams said government must negotiate with them about their status as a nation. He called on government to ensure racism came to an end in the country.
Williams said they want recognition of the Khoisan as the first nation of South Africa and the recognition of their language as an official language.
“We want to tell government and the ANC that institutional racism cannot go uncontested any longer,” Williams said.
He said government must remove labels such as black and coloured, as those discriminated against people. He argued the term “coloured” was abolished by the National Party government in 1991, but the ANC reinstated it when it came to power.
“Racial categorisation of people always led to racism and discrimination. People must not be put in race boxes. We don’t believe there are black people, we have to decolonise this country.
“The Nguni Bantu people are indigenous people like us and they belong here. We have been here 20 000 years before anybody and the Nguni people joined years later, after migrating from the Great Lakes region,” Williams said.