Archive | March 2015

Western Cape ANC ready to elect new leaders

Written by Yazeed Kamaldien

The Western Cape ANC’s provincial leadership election is scheduled to take place by the end of this month or in early May, confirmed its current provincial leader Marius Fransman this week.

This comes amidst continued calls for ANC supporters that Fransman and provincial secretary Songezo Mjongile should step down. Fransman dismissed these calls as factionalism that the ANC wants to get rid of.

“There is currently a process of branch meetings in regions and regional conferences are being conducted until mid April,” said Fransman.

“After that the provincial conference will take place at the end of April or beginning of May.

“Key issues that the leadership at this point is engaged on is on how to unify the ANC at all levels in the Western Cape.

“It also wants to make away with factions at all levels in the ANC. We also want to deepen our work in the coloured community.”

Fransman added: “The egos of leaders and comrades must not be superior to the responsibility of unity and organisational renewal.”

Fransman’s appearance at a Ses’khona People’s Rights movement protest outside the provincial legislature building in central Cape Town this week indicated of a lack of confidence in his leadership.

Ses’khona, which has thousands of Cape Town supporters, backs the ANC. But its chairman Andile Lili spoke out against Fransman and Mjongile while on the legislature’s steps in Wale Street.

“The only obstacle for the provincial ANC is its current leadership. People are complaining about Marius and Songezo. We don’t want to work behind these people,” said Lili.

“They are after tenders. We want credible leaders. We want to work with the ANC but these leaders frustrate us.”

Lili said Ses’khona was in contact with ANC national executive council members and avoided working with the provincial leadership. He said the movement wanted new leaders.

“My interest is that we have a strong ANC under good people. They (current leaders) need to be removed and good people must be put in place,” he said.

“We are in contact with ANC ministers and they have no problem with Ses’khona… The (provincial) ANC is going to suffer under this leadership.”

Rhodes statue will move… eventually

YAZEED KAMALDIEN and ZENZILE KHOISAN

Rhodes Must Fall campaigner’s patience would be tested a bit longer as government bureaucracy determines when the Cecil John Rhodes statue would be removed from the University of Cape Town (UCT) campus.

The university’s senate on Friday afternoon recommended removing the controversial Rhodes statue.

The statue of British colonialist Cecil John Rhodes is covered with a black plastic bag. Students at the University of Cape Town have called for its removal. Picture Yazeed Kamaldien

The statue of British colonialist Cecil John Rhodes is covered with a black plastic bag. Students at the University of Cape Town have called for its removal. Picture Yazeed Kamaldien

This followed almost a month of the student-led Rhodes Must Fall lobby to have the statue of the English colonialist removed. The senate’s recommendation would inform the university council’s vote on April 8.

It is believed the council takes lead from the senate and students this weekend claimed victory in their battle.

The government’s art and culture minister Nathi Mthetwa has said the statue’s removal should adhere to the National Heritage Resources Act of 1999.

He said this “stipulates particular technical as well as consultative processes that would be followed in the case of a removal and or relocation of a statue”.

Mthethwa’s spokesman Sandile Memela told Weekend Argus the senate’s decision was a “significant and most welcome step in the right direction”.

“It sends a resounding message that acknowledges the sensitivities around colonial symbols and the urgent need for all of us to embrace a transformative agenda,” he said.

“The next best thing will be to do the paperwork that gives legitimacy to the process. We believe the university authorities and students understand how to take the process forward.”

Memela said the ministry would not decide on what should be done with the statue though.

“It will be decision of all the parties to determine its relocation,” he said.

Velizwa Baduza, newly appointed chief executive of the South African Heritage Resources Agency, said she understood the urgency of the Rhodes Must Fall campaign.

She said students needed to understand the prescribed process on articles that are “part of the national estate” could not be sidestepped.

“Due notice is given and a 30-day consultation period takes place,” said Baduza.

UCT spokeswoman Pat Lucas said they had started the process to ensure compliance.

“We are currently in the process first of engaging with the campus community in the lead-up to the special meeting of council on April 8. If council agrees to the proposal to move the Rhodes statue, then UCT will begin consultation with government,” said Lucas.

She said there was currently no plan on what to do about the space once the statue was eventually removed because “this will be a matter for future consultation and engagement with the campus community and other constituencies”.

Heritage consultant Ron Martin explained that Heritage Western Cape, the authority responsible for provincial heritage landmarks, would first have to issue a notice and then “begin focus group consultations to determine how and where or whether the statue should be moved or scrapped, as also which entity would be contracted to execute this task”.

Political scientist Keith Gottschalk, a leader of the UCT Alumni Association, heralded the senate’s decision.

He said the current debate on what to do with the Rhodes statue was an opportunity to undo the “brainwashing” around the legacy of this controversial figure.

“The issue of removing Rhodes is not a new question, as I and others raised it 35 years ago in the UCT student paper,” he said.

He said Rhodes built his wealth by deliberately underpaying workers in Kimberley diamond mines.

“This is exactly what is meant by his (Rhodes) statement at the time, that he would ‘build a university out of the stomachs of niggers’,” said Gottschalk.

Lucas said UCT senate “voted overwhelmingly in favour” of removing the statue.

“Senate recommends the statue be removed from the campus permanently; that it be handed over to the government heritage authorities for safe custody; and that the statue should be boarded up with immediate effect until it is removed from the campus,” said Lucas.

UCT students continue Rhodes Must Fall campaign

Written by Yazeed Kamaldien

After claiming victory yesterday, University of Cape Town students said their senate’s support to remove the Cecil John Rhodes statue from campus was just the start of transformation.

UCT spokeswoman Pat Lucas said late yesterday afternoon 181 senate members voted to move the statue, one person voted against its removal and three others abstained from voting.

“Senate has voted overwhelmingly in favour of recommending to (the university’s) council that the statue be moved when council holds its special sitting,” said Lucas.

“The proposal states that the senate recommends that the Rhodes statue be removed from the campus permanently; that it be handed over to the government heritage authorities for safe custody; and that the statue should be boarded up with immediate effect until it is removed from the campus.”

The university’s council would meet on April 8 to vote on the matter.

Anti-apartheid activist and former Constitutional Court judge Albie Sachs visited UCT and the Rhodes statue. He is a former student at the university. Picture Yazeed Kamaldien

Anti-apartheid activist and former Constitutional Court judge Albie Sachs visited UCT and the Rhodes statue. He is a former student at the university. Picture Yazeed Kamaldien

UCT student representative council president Ramabina Mahapa said the senate’s vote was an endorsement of the student-led Rhodes Must Fall campaign launched earlier this month.

“It is certainly a victory for us. Such a huge body has endorsed what the students are calling for. It means we are being heard by the larger community,” said Mahapa.

“Council will be influenced by senate. Council never really goes against senate. We are on the right side of things. Our calls will be heard.”

At the Bremner Building yesterday, which students have occupied since a campus protest last Friday, students were still camping out in top floor meeting room. They also rebranded the building Azania House and put stickers on the door reading ‘Under New Management’.

Postgraduate student Alex Hotz said their campaign “went beyond the statue” though.

Alex Hotz, a post-graduate student at UCT, outside the entrance of the Bremner Building that students protesters have occupied and renamed Azania House. Picture Yazeed Kamaldien

Alex Hotz, a post-graduate student at UCT, outside the entrance of the Bremner Building that students protesters have occupied and renamed Azania House. Picture Yazeed Kamaldien

“The statue must be removed from the campus completely. I’m sure council will vote for the statue to come down. Then the university needs to apply for a permit to remove it,” she said.

Hotz added: “The battle has not been won yet. It is a victory but we still have a while to go. It’s about transformation.”

Hotz said the transformation was also not about “changing the pigmentation of the (people at the) university”.

“You can have black people who are vice-chancellors, such as Mamphela Ramphele, but that doesn’t mean things become better for black people. We have to change the structures at the university and its processes. That will lead to transformation,” she said.

“And it’s not about white people. What we are challenging is a system of power. We are against white supremacy and white privilege. It is problematic when white people who have benefited from their privilege cannot recognise it. Blacks have suffered because of this privilege.”

Hotz said students are committed to occupy the Bremner Building, UCT’s administrative heart, until April 8 when council votes on the matter.

Greg Keal, a second-year politics and international relations student, was also part of the occupy movement. Keal is also a member of the student council.

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“We have addressed all of these things over and over again. We finally realised nothing will happen unless we take back the university. We needed to protest,” he said.

“As a white person, I don’t think the intention of this movement was ever to make white people feel guilty for being white. It was to raise consciousness amongst white people they are privileged because of their history and because they are white.

“The statue is just one symbol of institutional racism at UCT. White people are always seen as superior everywhere on campus. That’s in people’s subconscious.”

He added: “Our university needs transformation.”

Meanwhile in Athlone, about 60 people gathered in the community hall for a public meeting about the Rhodes Must Fall campaign.

One of the meeting’s organisers, Kelly Gillespie who is an anthropology lecturer from Wits University, said they “have been inspired by the students”. She said she studied at UCT.

“We need a deep decolonisation of our society especially through our educational institutions. We need a decolonised Africanist,” she said.

“Cape Town still functions as a colonial city. It still has racial stratifications, with white privilege being at the centre of what happens in this city. We want to take the politics of the Rhodes Must Fall movement and use this moment to have a different conversation in the city.”

Bevil Lucas, a former UCT student from Woodstock, said the “students have had the courage to take up such a crucial issue”.

“They have been brave enough to say the colonial past does not represent their views in the modern period. It has remained untouched for too long,” he said.

“It’s an issue in our history that should have been attended to a few years earlier. But rather late then never.”

Arts and culture minister Nathi Mthethwa said on Thursday the National Heritage Resources Act of 1999 “stipulates particular technical as well as consultative processes that would be followed in the case of a removal and or relocation of a statue”.

Removing the Rhodes statue would entail a consultative process “where the applicant must notify all conservation bodies, including applying to the South African Heritage Resource Agency or relevant provincial or local structures”.

Mthethwa said: “As a government that promotes a transformative national agenda, we also accept that the past cannot and should not be completely wiped off.

“Thus we neither support nor encourage the violent removal of any statue because we do not encourage people to take the law into their own hands.”

Jazz festival’s most enthusiastic fan…

Written by Yazeed Kamaldien

Every music festival has its diehard fans and Ronnie Green from Silvertown, Athlone, has not missed a single edition of the Cape Town International Jazz Festival over the last 15 years.

The 76-year-old has even interviewed a number of the festival’s performers over the years when he presented a jazz music show on community station Bush Radio.

Green’s passion for jazz started when he was a child growing up in Williams Street in Woodstock.

Ronnie Green has been to every single edition of the Cape Town International Jazz Festival over the last 15 years. Picture Yazeed Kamaldien

Ronnie Green has been to every single edition of the Cape Town International Jazz Festival over the last 15 years. Picture Yazeed Kamaldien

“It all started with Dollar Brand (jazz great Abdullah Ibrahim). When I was 12 years old that was the first time that I heard him play,” said Green.

“I saw him perform in Woodstock. I immediately took to what he was doing. He was the first guy of colour that I saw play with a music sheet. In the old days, most of the musicians played by ear. They could write beautiful songs but could not read music.”

“He studied and could read music. That separated him from many. I can sit for days listening to Abdullah playing solo piano.”

In later years Green also listened to music from abroad when sailors returned with the latest albums.

“Sailors who worked on ships used to bring albums from America. That’s how we heard our first album cuts. Foremost were the Nat King Cole albums. He was a big hit in America at the time,” said Green.

He then started the monthly Ronnie Green’s Jazz Scene where he would play jazz music to initially raise funds for the local baseball club.

“I had a house with hardly any furniture and thought this was a good way to make some bucks. I printed some tickets and sold it for 50 Cents to enter. It boomeranged,” said Green.

“I had four children and saw it as a way of making money.”

Through these sessions, Green met jazz festival founder Rashid Lombard.

“Rashid and his girlfriend heard about this and they came to sit on my lounge floor to listen to the music. Rashid brought a couple of buddies with,” said Lombard.

By the time Lombard started the festival, he invited Green to be his guest.

“I heard about the festival and couldn’t afford a ticket. Then I got a phone call from Rashid. He told me I started this thing year ago and he wanted me to come and chill out at the festival,” said Green.

“When I came to the festival, for that first one at the Good Hope Centre, it was a reunion of all the people that I met since the 1960s.”

Green said the festival became an annual reunion for friends from all corners of South Africa. The two-night event was also a chance to see some of his most favourite artists live, but there was never enough time to see it all.

“When you are at the festival, you can never see everything. There are different music genres as well. It has mostly jazz but also rock ‘n roll and underground music,” said Green.

“You have a certain amount of hours for the two nights. You have to choose. Sometimes your favourite artists are performing at the same time. Then you can listen only to the one for 15 minutes and then skip to the next stage.

“I mainly go for the artists who play in Rosie’s. this is the main jazz stage. It is the stage for the top jazz artists at the festival. Because of my love of what I grew up with, I go there to listen.”

Green added: “Jazz music attracts a special type of person. It’s not an ordinary run of the mill person. Intellect has a lot to do with the loving of jazz. It’s an art form.

“You have to be interested in the arts to become interested in jazz. Once you get into this thing and the music, it’s a bug. You begin to love it and you being to know what the artists are doing.”

Jazz festival turns Sweet 16 this year

Written by Yazeed Kamaldien

Now in its 16th year, the Cape Town International Jazz Festival has been a stage right here in the Mother City for the world’s biggest music stars over the years.

American divas like rapper-singer Lauryn Hill and singer Erykah Badu have entertained audiences at this event dubbed “Africa’s grandest gathering”.

Then there was the legendary singer Omara Portuondo with the rest of the Buena Vista Social Club that transported fans to their native Cuba with song and irresistible dance.

The Rainmakers will perform at this year's Cape Town International Jazz Festival. Picture Supplied

The Rainmakers will perform at this year’s Cape Town International Jazz Festival. Picture Supplied

Over the years, the festival has also pulled in top stars from other music genres, including American hip hop stars such as Yasiin Bey, formerly known as Mos Def.

This was doubtless a move to attract a wider audience and grow the two-night festival.

While music has remained the festival’s core focus, it has incorporated a photo exhibition, music journalism workshop and music development for young people.

A fashion show and gala dinner has also recently been held the night before the festival roars at the Cape Town International Convention Centre. This fashion show aims to encourage locals to wear South African clothing brands.

The event has grown more than tenfold from its original 3,000 crowd at the Good Hope Centre to the current site.

Another precursor to the main stage events is the free community concert at Greenmarket Square. On March 25, Courtney Pine and Sipho ‘Hotstix’ Mabuse will headline this concert. Free trains on certain lines will be available to transport locals to the city for the concert.

Festival organisers said their aim was to “create a space where an appreciation for good music and a great experience is shared and enjoyed by all who attend, no matter who they are or where they come from”.

This year’s line-up includes musicians and bands from various countries, including the United States, Poland, UK, India, Switzerland and South Africa.

Turkish press freedom under attack

Written by Yazeed Kamaldien

At first glance Turkey appears to be a stable democracy, particularly compared to its neighbours Iraq and Syria, but its media fraternity tells a different story.

During a visit to this country a few weeks ago, South African journalists heard first-hand of the pressures their Turkish counterparts face.

A series of meetings between media colleagues from the two countries were organised by the international Hizmet Movement. The latter has Turkish founders running media-related, education and interfaith projects in various countries, including South Africa.

A contingent of South African journalists traveled recently to Turkey to show support for their counterparts facing government repression in that country. From left are Amina Frense, managing editor at public broadcaster SABC, Weekend Argus journalist Yazeed Kamaldien and City Press newspaper's editor-at-large Mondli Makhanya, who showed support at a local TV station whose staff have been harassed and jailed.

A contingent of South African journalists traveled recently to Turkey to show support for their counterparts facing government repression in that country. From left are Amina Frense, managing editor at public broadcaster SABC, Weekend Argus journalist Yazeed Kamaldien and City Press newspaper’s editor-at-large Mondli Makhanya, who showed support at a local TV station whose staff have been harassed and jailed.

Turkish journalists echoed a narrative international media watchdogs espoused over recent years. It raises concerns their country’s democracy was at risk due to the ruling Justice and Development Party, known by its Turkish acronym AKP.

South African journalists attending a series of meetings with Turkish media workers also raised concerns about their country’s ruling party ANC, saying it had the potential to limit media freedoms too.

Mustafa Yesil, president of the Journalists and Writers Foundation in Turkey, said journalists in his country were losing their jobs “if they were critical of the government and the result is self-censorship”.

“We have self-censorship in 80% of the media. This creates a public that is deprived of their right to the truth,” said Yesil.

Yavuz Baydar, a columnist with the widely read Today’s Zaman newspaper, went as far as saying that self-censorship means “newsrooms of independent media are open air prisons”.

“We have a single party that controls the state, oppresses the opposition and suffocates journalism. Journalists have been jailed. The judiciary is also suffering,” said Baydar.

“About 80% of the media sector in Turkey is under control of the government. We can still express an opinion, but reporting is being diminished.

“Most people get their news from TV stations. But there is no TV station that is independent and free.”

Citizens meanwhile believe also the government is placing greater pressure on the media and limiting its freedom to report without fear.

Murat Gezici, general director of Gezici Poll and Research, said their February 2015 poll showed that 69,7% of people polled believe there was government pressure on the media.

Gezici said in 2004 this was only at 22%, when citizens felt the media was more free. He added though that most of the country’s estimated 77 million citizens were in fact supportive of the AKP as it spoke to their conservative values.

Ceren Sozeri, professor of media studies at Galatasaray University in Istanbul, said media freedom had long been at risk in Turkey, not because of its government but rather due to its ownership.

“Since the 1990s, business people entered the media sector. Liberation was silenced. New owners had other investments and with the help of the government they grew,” she said.

“It wasn’t about journalists working to make a living. These were businessmen. They also purchased TV channels. They now own radio stations and online media.

“Business people have supported different political parties and had good relations with power, which made them wealthy.”

She added: “By 2001, the ruling AKP took over media institutions. Media bosses supported this.”

The current threat to media freedom – a turning point – came about when media owners opposing the AKP raised critical questions across its platforms, said Sozeri.

“Then we saw an end to peace. AKP started to punish media owners with taxes and penalties. Some businesses ended up selling their TV channels to the government,” she said.

“We also saw new media owners emerging, taking loans from the government to buy existing newspapers. We still don’t know if they paid this money back.

“It’s taxpayer’s money and the government did not disclose information about it.”

Sozeri laid blame with media owners who “are not sensitive of media ethics”.

With faith in traditional media waning, Turkish citizens went online and expressed their views and accessed information via social media websites.

In response, the Turkish government has jailed journalists for their online comments, particularly on the website Twitter, and even blocked the latter briefly last year.

Akin Emre, digital media director for the private TV broadcaster Samanyolu, said since their company’s news channels reported more critically on the government they have suffered.

“There’s a (government-run) broadcasting committee and most of those members are from the AKP. They keep sending us fines. They sent us a fine of US$500,000. We have fines of millions,” said Emre.

“They sent us documentaries from the state TV channel that was shot in the 1980s. They want us to broadcast that in prime time, instead of our news programmes.”

Emre said one of the broadcaster’s bosses had been jailed for a sentence spoken in a fictional TV series a few years ago.

“There’s this term called ‘reasonable doubt’. They can arrest anyone they want, based on a reasonable doubt, not evidence. Everyone who is critical of the government is a terrorist,” he said.

Emre said the real reason for the arrest was because the company’s TV channels had become more critical of the ruling party’s policies.

He said advertising had also dropped since their news reports have been critical of the government.

“We have a problem getting advertising from state banks or companies that do business with the state. Or companies owned partly by the state, such as Turkish Airlines, state banks or telecommunications companies. It affected our revenue,” said Emre.

He said Samanyolu was not the only company facing government threats or being sidelined by authority.

“The president (Turkey’s leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan) recently met with the media at his palace. None of the critical outlets like us were invited,” said Emre.

South African media workers at the meeting raised similar concerns about press freedom in their country.

Moshoeshoe Monare, deputy editor at Mail & Guardian newspaper, recalled President Jacob Zuma’s State of the Nation address earlier this year, when a media blackout unfolded in Parliament.

“The opposition (party) interrupted his (Zuma’s) address. The intelligence and police jammed the (communications) signal so that journalists could not tweet (send out messages on Twitter website),” said Monare.

He also referred to the Gupta family, its close links with Zuma and its media businesses used to “get state business”.

Liezel de Lange, deputy editor of Beeld newspaper, said South African journalists were “concerned about the judiciary and its ability to protect free speech”.

“Our government is more likely to spend taxpayer’s money (for advertising) on media institutions that are sympathetic to it. We can see that affecting our budgets,” said De Lange.

“Our government is not a fan of social media. There was a signal jam at (opening of) Parliament (earlier this year) and they tried to stop information from flowing out.”

She added: “It seems our presidents had a couple of chats on how to deal with the media.”

Written by Yazeed Kamaldien

Global media watchdogs, including the US-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), have called on the Turkish government to “reverse anti-press measures”.

The CPJ in a recent statement expressed “alarm at a fresh wave of anti-press actions in Turkey”.

It said it had meetings with government officials and was “assured that Turkey is committed to continuing its judicial reform to improve conditions for a free press and free expression”.

“We also came away from some meetings with a sense of official hostility toward the media, and we have seen that hostility play out in a series of attacks on press freedom in recent months,” it said.

“These include the harassment and prosecution of journalists because of their activities on social media; the blocking of reporters’ social media posts; a ban on coverage of a sensitive story; and detentions, police raids, and criminal investigations of journalists.

“These acts have a chilling effect on news coverage in Turkey.”

It detailed cases that it had been aware of:

— On January 15, an Istanbul court ordered Twitter to block tweets that linked to a July article in the online newspaper Radikal that reported on the allegedly illegal wiretapping by police. Access to the Radikal article itself was also blocked in Turkey.

— At the end of December, police raided the Istanbul home of Turkish TV journalist Sedef Kabaş, detained her briefly, and confiscated her laptop and phone. She faces up to five years in jail in connection with her social media posts. She is being prosecuted for a tweet in which she named a prosecutor who had dropped corruption proceedings against high-level Turkish officials, the Turkish press reported. The charges against her include “targeting persons involved in the fight against terrorism,” news reports said.

— Also in December, police raided two media outlets perceived as affiliated with a movement led by US-based Turkish cleric Fethullah Gülen. The editor-in-chief of Zaman newspaper, Ekrem Dumanlı, was detained in one of the raids and Hidayet Karaca, the chairman of Samanyolu TV, was arrested in the other. The two arrest warrants were part of a group of 31 issued by Turkish prosecutors that month on charges of “establishing a terrorist group,” committing forgery, and slander, press reports said, citing Istanbul chief prosecutor Hadi Salihoglu.

No court dates to hear the two men’s cases have been set.

CPJ said: “Turkish authorities have repeatedly gagged coverage of sensitive issues, depriving the public of its right to be informed.

“These recent violations against press freedom and freedom of expression obscure the positive steps taken by the government, including the stark reduction of the number of journalists imprisoned in relation to their work in Turkey.”

Reporters Without Borders has meanwhile said Turkey’s judicial practices “continue to be repressive and the number of detained journalists is still at a level that is unprecedented since the end of the military regime”.

“Around 60 journalists were in detention at the end of 2013, including at least 28 held in connection with their work, making Turkey one of the world’s biggest prisons for media personnel,” it said.

“Despite directives intended to limit use of provisional detention, journalists often spend months if not years in prison before being tried.”

It added: “Most of the journalists in prison or being prosecuted are the victims of anti-terrorism legislation inherited from the dark years. A score of articles in the penal code complete this repressive legislative arsenal.”

It also said the “media paid a high price for their coverage of the wave of anti-government demonstrations” in recent years.

“Journalists were systematically targeted by the police and sometimes by demonstrators. The violence was sustained by a climate of hysteria fuelled by the speeches of government officials and pro-government media branding critical columnists, social network users and foreign reporters as agents of an international plot to overthrow the government or even as terrorists,” it said.

“The level of self-censorship was such that 24-hour TV news channels completely ignored the violent clashes rocking Istanbul.

“Recalcitrant journalists were sidelined. No fewer than 14 were fired and 22 resigned. Astronomical fines were imposed on those TV channels that covered the protests closely.”

Kurdish community celebrates its New Year in Cape Town

Written by Yazeed Kamaldien

The local Kurdish community will celebrate its freedom alongside musicians at the Cape Town Festival today (SATURDAY).

Festival founder Ryland Fisher said they decided to hold the event on Human Rights Day this year “so that we can remember the people who have made sacrifices so that we can all be free”.

The one-day festival will unfold at the Company’s Garden in central Cape Town from 9am until 6pm. It is free to the public.

Fisher said it “gives people from the Cape Flats an opportunity to own a part of the city centre for one day”.

“We provide a platform for community artists to perform on a big stage in front of a diverse audience. This year we will have community artists from Atlantis, Delft and Langa while our headline act will be Jonathan Rubain who still lives in Hanover Park,” he said.

“This fills me with pride because I also grew up in Hanover Park. We will also have the Rosa Choir which is a diverse group of singers.”

Former Idols winner Karen Kortje will also perform at the event.

The festival started when Fisher edited the Cape Times newspaper and ran the One City, Many Cultures campaign in 1999.

Fisher said the festival, like the campaign had intended, “aims to create a more tolerant, integrated and inclusive city of Cape Town”.

The festival has grown over the years to platform international voices too.

This year it will feature the non-profit Kurdish Human Rights Action Group (KHRAG). The latter will inform locals about the struggle for Kurdish rights in various countries.

KHRAG will offer homeless people a meal at Baran’s restaurant on Greenmarket Square as part of its Newroz celebration. At 6pm, it will screen a Kurdish film at the restaurant, which will be free to the public.

Baran Kalay, an executive member of KHRAG and owner of Mesopotamia restaurant on Long Street, said Kurds “usually feed poor people when we have a celebration”.

“It is a sadaqah (donation) to those who are hungry and poor,” said Kalay.

He said Newroz marked the “triumph of light over darkness” in Kurdish history. It also marks the Kurdish new year.

Kalay said Newroz started “thousands of year ago when the evil King Zahak killed children to cure a disease”.

“A Kurdish hero, Kawa, who had lost six sons to Zahak, went up to the king’s castle and slew him… For the Kurdish people, this story represents their oppression and liberation,” said Kalay.

He added: “Even though Kurdish people today face challenges from the Turkish government and Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, we still celebrate this day of freedom. And we want to celebrate with the South African community.

“Even if we still face challenges, we are free in our hearts and minds.”

The New World Foundation in troubled Lavender Hill will meanwhile hold a protest “against the gang violence and shootings in our community” from 9am today.

It said: “Residents are unhappy about the recent shootings and general violence in the communities caused by the gangs. This protest is an appeal to the gangs that live in these communities to stop their shootings and violence which is causing fear… people are losing their lives.”