Programme Director, Minister Nathi Mthethwa
The President of the Republic of South Africa, His Excellency, President Jacob Zuma
Ministers and Deputy Ministers
Premiers and MECs
Ambassadors, High Commissioners and other Members of the Diplomatic Corps
Executive Mayors and MMCs
Members of Parliament, Legislatures and Councillors
Leaders of Political Parties and Civil Society Organisations
Today, our nation takes a pause to look back at how far we have travelled in our journey to build a country free from all vestiges of apartheid and colonialism, a country free from all forms of discrimination and exploitation.
This journey, started by our forebears more than three-and-half centuries ago, reached a decisive turning point on 27th April 1994, when South Africa became a free and democratic country.
On this day, 21 years ago, millions of our people voted for the first time together as equal citizens to elect a government of their choice. Today, as our young democracy turns 21 years, we proudly stand before you and say Happy 21st Birthday South Africa. Happy Birthday Mzansi!
As we look back to trace our footsteps and re-establish our bearings, we can say without fear of contradiction that the South Africa of today is a much better place to live in.
Even the doubting Thomases amongst us will find it hard to disprove the overwhelming and incontrovertible evidence that the ANC-led government has spearheaded major socio-economic changes during the first twenty years of our freedom and democracy.
Despite all the many challenges we still face in dismantling the structural and psychological legacy of more than three hundred years of colonial exploitation and racial oppression, we have set our country on major path for social and economic transformation. We have a good story to tell, as our President likes to say.
Going forward, we ourselves have also acknowledge that in the coming decade, we need a decisive radical shift in order to tackle the persistent challenges and stubborn legacy of poverty, unemployment and inequality during the third Decade of Freedom.
During his inauguration on 24th May 2014, President Jacob Zuma made a call for a radical shift:
“Today marks the beginning of the second phase of our transition from apartheid to a national democratic society. The second phase will involve the implementation of radical socio-economic transformation policies and programmes over the next five years. We have already placed before the nation, the National Development Plan, our roadmap which outlines the type of society we envisage by the year 2030. Through this programme, we will move South Africa forward to prosperity and success”.
All spheres of government are responding to the call for radical socio- economic transformation with greater urgency and new energy. We in Gauteng have adopted the radical programme for Transformation, Modernisation and Re-industrialisation of Gauteng as a detailed provincial programme to implement the NDP.
Programme Director, it is for this reason that this year, we celebrate Freedom Day under the theme: “Celebrating the Beginning of the Third Decade of our Freedom through Accelerating Radical Economic Transformation.”
We are serious about building the South Africa in which all South Africans realise the dream of a better life and full human dignity.
We are not complacent. We have not lost a sense of urgency. We have not lost touch with the daily reality that millions of our people are still left out of the mainstream of our economy. We are on the ground every day unlocking service delivery blockages and fast-tracking transformation.
It is for this reason that we don’t accept any justification or attempt at rationalising the violent attacks against foreign nationals which we have seen over the past few weeks. We continue to condemn these attacks on our brothers and sisters and we will make sure that these barbaric acts shall never happen in country. We are one people. We are One Africa. We are One Humanity!
We want to thank you, Mr President for leading our nation and intervening decisively to stop the violence. We will continue to work with civil society, in particular faith based organisations and all of our people who have worked tirelessly to restore order and peace in our communities.
We are proud to report that camps are shutting down and many of our brothers and sisters are being integrated back into communities. We will work with the law agencies and communities to rid our communities of all forms of crime. Crime undermines our democracy and erodes our hard-won freedoms. Xenophobia undermines our standing in Africa and in the World. Poverty, hunger and unemployment undermine the dignity of our people. We must tackle all these ills together with civil society and communities.
As we meet on Freedom Day, we are glad to report that the violence has stopped. The attacks have stopped and the reintegration of displacees is going very well. We have to address all multi-faceted causes of xenophobia in order to ensure that this never again happen on our shores.
Let me conclude by saying that every democracy has its own unique challenges and problems. Our democracy is coming of age. It has become noisier and somewhat rowdy, looked at from the point of view of what is happening in parliament.
But the problems of democracy can only be solved through democracy – more engagement with communities and mass mobilisation of all sectors.
Government alone can never succeed in tackling societal problems and challenges.
As we reflect and retrace our footsteps in order to appreciate and protect what we have achieved collectively as a people, let us understand that the road ahead is still long and arduous.
The journey for the next decade has just begun. Inde le ndlela! Le amogetswe ka gae!
Siyanam’kela ekhaya! Feel at home!
God Bless Africa!
Issued by: Gauteng Office of the Premier
Source : South African Government