We have no right to pull the country backwards - Zuma

Cape Town – South Africans had no right to pull the country backwards, President Jacob Zuma said on Tuesday.

Zuma was unveiling a memorial gravesite for Steve Biko, together with his family and various ministers, in the Eastern Cape in commemoration of Human Rights Day.

Political parties and government are remembering the victims of the 1960 Sharpeville massacre, where police shot dead 69 people during a protest against the country’s pass laws, which were used to control the movement of blacks, coloureds, and Indians.

Addressing media on the sidelines of the unveiling, Zuma said Human Rights Day was an important day in the country that needed to be recognised.

The officials felt that they should be with the Biko family on this day, he said, to thank the family for the contribution they made in the fight for freedom in South Africa.

“And for them to know their contribution will never be forgotten and will be remembered by generations to come,” he said.

It was perfectly fitting for Human Rights Day to be marked in the Eastern Cape to remember the hero 40 years after his death, Zuma said.

'Let us unite'

Zuma started with unveiling the gravesite and memorial of Biko before heading over to the main event in King Williams Town.

“Let us unite and make our country indeed a prosperous country. We have no right to push this country backward,” he said.

When they talked about human rights, he said, they talked about economic rights, the right to water and all other fundamental rights. They did not talk about rights vaguely.

“That’s what Biko sacrificed his life for,” Zuma said.

Nontsikelelo Biko, the black consciousness leader's widow, said they had first been reluctant about the erection of the new monument.

They did not want it to seem as if Biko was superior to those who were also laid to rest in the same gravesite.

But they decided to allow the monument to be erected so that young people could learn more about Biko.

She said the road to freedom has not been easy, and many lost their lives.

“Days of crying are gone, now we must just focus on continuing their legacy,” she said.