Sharpeville tribute turned into a new political battlefield
The Times Editorial: The image of an angry black South African burning the country's flag seems entirely out of sync with Human Rights Day.
But this did indeed happen in Sharpeville yesterday as residents protested against the ANC government's decision to move the day's commemoration services to Kliptown, Soweto.
Several ANC leaders were quick to try to dispel the suspicion that the party was attempting to undo history and negate the contribution made by the Pan Africanist Congress to the anti-apartheid struggle.
But Sharpeville residents clearly felt that their township had been overlooked and that the sacrifice of 69 black South Africans, who had stood up in defiance of the pass system in 1960, had been denigrated and negated.
And so the anger bubbled and boiled in Sharpeville, leading to the country's new flag being desecrated on the day we remember the sacrifices made by the Sharpeville protesters and others.
Kliptown, of course, holds another significance for South Africa - it is where the Congress of the People adopted the Freedom Charter in 1955 that would eventually become the foundation stone for the post-1994 constitution.
And, because the Freedom Charter is directly associated with the ANC, many Sharpeville residents felt that Human Rights Day had been hijacked by the ruling party.
It is such a great pity that a day of such historic importance can become so contentious and be turned into a political hot potato instead of being a day of remembrance.
There were several other protests around the country yesterday - some aimed directly at the ANC and its government' s lack of delivery, perceived or real.
Our people are clearly not at ease with themselves and the divisions among them remain wide.
It is unfortunate that there is such a stark reminder of our differences on a day as significant as this one.