Push for South Africa to get an extra public holiday in May

The Congress of Traditional Leaders of South Africa (Contralesa) has called for the introduction of a new public holiday to celebrate and acknowledge African spirituality, the Daily Maverick reports.

Ancestors’ Day, which would fall on 8 May, would be dedicated to ‘reflection, prayer and appeasement of our ancestors’. The National House of Traditional Leaders and the National Khoisan Council have already recognised the public holiday and are now pushing for a formal change at the national government level.

“We believed it should not only end there, where (8 May) is merely recognised as Ancestors’ Day. We think it needs to be taken further, and be made a public holiday,” Contralesa secretary-general Zolani Mkiva told the newspaper.

He added that while Ancestors’ Day involves some ritual performances, people are expected to select the ways in which they want to remember and reflect on their own ancestors. “We will not prescribe to people (what must be done on Ancestors’ Day), because it goes in accordance with the rituals and customs of each and every family.”

South Africa has 12 public holidays in 2022 – seven of which have already passed, including an ‘additional’ day off to celebrate Worker’s Day, which fell on a Sunday (1 May 2022).

The next public holiday – Youth Day – falls on Thursday, 16 June.

Consecutive public holidays can significantly impact working arrangements and shifts, and while a ‘day off’ can impact economic productivity, it can help stave off fatigue-related issues.

The public holidays for 2022, according to the official government proclamationare as follows:

Date Day Public Holiday
1 January Saturday New Year’s Day
21 March Monday Human Rights Day
15 April Friday Good Friday
18 April Monday Family Day
27 April Wednesday Freedom Day
1 May Sunday Workers’ Day
2 May Monday Public holiday – Workers’ Day observed 
16 June Thursday Youth Day
9 August Tuesday National Women’s Day
24 September Saturday Heritage Day
16 December Friday Day of Reconciliation
25 December Sunday Christmas Day
26 December Monday Day of Goodwill

Read: Covid deaths remain low in South Africa as positivity rate spikes

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Push for South Africa to get an extra public holiday in May