Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa,
Acting Premier, Mr Sihle Zikalala Ministers, Deputy Ministers, MECs,
Members of Parliament and Provincial Legislature,
Executive Mayors and councillors,
Inkosi Mabhudu Tembe,
Members of the Provincial House of Traditional Leaders,
Umphakathi waseMkhanyakude namaphethelo,
Fellow South Africans,
We greet you all on this 23rd anniversary of the dawn of freedom and democracy in our country.
However, we start on a sad note. A few days ago during the Easter weekend, we lost more than two hundred people to road crashes, including 19 school children in Bronkhortspruit, Gauteng and sixteen people in Kranskop here in KZN.
Their deaths have caused enormous pain and we must all play our role to end this carnage on our roads.
I request that we rise and give a moment of silence for all those who have lost their lives so tragically.
It has been a long road since that watershed general election in 1994 that marked the collapse of racist white rule. The defeat of apartheid colonialism by the South African people was one of the greatest achievements of humankind.
We turned our backs on a system of governance that had been declared a crime against humanity, and which had dehumanised black people and turned them into pariahs in the land of their birth.
One of the best descriptions of life under racist minority rule is contained in an article published on 25 July 1953 by ANC leader RV Selope Thema.
He wrote; In those days the black man was treated as a beast of burden. He was knocked and kicked about with impunity.
In the magistrates courts, his voice was hardly heard and his evidence hardly believed. He was stopped at street corners by policemen demanding the production of his pass and his tax receipt.
He was not allowed to walk on the pavements and had to dodge motor cars in the streets. He was not allowed to travel first, second or third class on the trains.
He travelled in trucks almost similar to those used for cattle and horses. Politically he had no voice in the making and administration of the laws. Economically he was kept in a state of abject poverty”.
These are the conditions that urged our leaders such Oliver Reginald Tambo to sacrifice life’s comforts to fight for the liberation of our country and the people.
Mr Oliver Tambo would have turned one hundred years this year had he lived.
We have dedicated this 23rd Freedom Day to him, under the theme: The Year of Oliver Reginald Tambo, Together Deepening Democracy and Building Safer and Crime-Free communities.
We pay tribute to Mr OR Tambo and all ordinary men and women of our country who contributed in various ways to the attainment of freedom, and helped move our country forward towards a free and democratic South Africa.
In 23 years we have achieved a lot. We have built a democratic state founded on human rights and the rule of law.
We have established three functional arms of the state, the executive, legislature and the judiciary which work to enable South Africans to enjoy their rights which are enshrined in the Constitution, based on their respective mandates.
We have chapter 9 institutions whose job is also to protect and promote the rights of our people. These include rights to religious freedom or gender equality to the promotion of clean governance and freedom from maladministration and corruption.
For millions of our people, freedom has meant access to services that they were denied before, such as water, sanitation, housing, electricity, roads, health care or education.
Namhlanje uma sigubha usuku lwenkululeko, sikhumbula indima esesiyihambile, nezinguquko ezilethwe uhulumeni wentando yeningi.
Inkululeko ilethe impilo engcono ezindaweni eziningi. Amanzi, ugesi, imigwaqo nezinsiza eziningi zilethiwe kubantu.
Inkululeko ilethe nemfundo engcono ezinganeni, kanye nezikole okufundwa mahhala kuzo ukusiza abazali abantulayo.
Izingane zithola ukudla ezikoleni ukuze zifunde kahle zingalambile. Eziningi izingane zifunda ezinkulisa ezixhaswe uhulumeni.
Konke lokhu kukhombisa khona ukuthi ngempela iNingizimu Afrika isingcono kakhulu manje kunaseminyakeni yengcindezelo.
Uhulumeni wabantu ubuye akhiphe imali yezibonelelo esiza izingane, ogogo nomkhulu kanye nabakhubazekile. Imindeni eminingi iphila ngalemali ngenxa yokwentuleka kwemisebenzi.
The Departments of Social Development, Home Affairs as well as SASSA will host integrated further registration of beneficiaries for social grants in this area.
Uzoqhubeka uhulumeni nokubambisana nabantu ukuze isimo sempilo sibengcono kubantu bonke ezweni.
Sifuna ukugcizelela namhlanje ukuthi uma uhulumeni engakafiki endaweni yakini nezidingo, bekezela. Uhulumeni uzogcina efikile nempilo engcono.
As we celebrate the progress made in the past 23 years, we also admit that there is further work to be done.
We have achieved political freedom but economic freedom still remains largely elusive. It is for this reason that we speak about radical economic transformation.
Let me reiterate that by radical economic transformation, we mean fundamental change in the structure, systems, institutions and patterns of ownership, management and control of the economy in favour of all South Africans, especially the poor, the majority of whom are African and female.
The majority of black people are still economically disempowered and are dissatisfied with the economic gains from liberation.
The level of inequality remains high. White households earn at least five times more than black households.
Only ten percent of the top one hundred companies on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange are owned by black South Africans, directly-achieved principally, through the black empowerment codes.
The pace of transformation in the workplace, the implementation of affirmative action policies as required by the Employment Equity Act, also remains very slow.
We are also very much aware of our people’s quest for land. We reiterate that we will use all available instruments necessary in expediting land restitution and respond to land hunger.
The land question will feature prominently in the policy conference discussions of the governing party in June, including the debates on the expropriation of land without compensation.
As said, our theme for Freedom Month 2017 centres on building safer and crime-free communities.
We want to see an end to vicious attacks on women and children, the house break-ins, cash in transit heists, car hijackings, stock theft and other crimes that make life difficult for our people in many communities.
Last month I undertook a Presidential Siyahlola Monitoring visit to this area specifically because of the aggressive cross-border crime which has included car hijackings and theft, with vehicles being taken to Mozambique across the border.
In my imbizo with the community, you outlined various challenges that you face.
I assigned several departments to work on the issues that had been raised by the community here and are happy to report back on some of the issues, as freedom means talking directly with government.
We are happy that the people have raised this matter with us so that it can be attended to without impacting negatively on the warm and fraternal relations between the people of Mozambique and the people of South Africa.
A lot of work is being done to attend to issues raised.
Many complaints pointed to a need to improve policing in this area.
When I visited Manguzi police station I found it dilapidated, with inadequate personnel and resources to handle the matters at hand. I found the same situation in Nyanga in Cape Town in February and also in Soshanguve which means we need to improve capacity in police stations serving black communities.
Government has set aside 92 million rand for the renovations of the Manguzi police station. Already, painting and other minor refurbishments are being undertaken so that the police can work in a more conducive environment.
The KwaZulu-Natal provincial government has supplied the police station with vehicles to enable faster responses when crimes are being committed.
The police station has also been upgraded to a level of a Colonel and measures have begun to fill 44 vacant posts.
The South African National Defence Force and SAPS on the border have begun to collaborate on efforts to defeat cross-border crime, as it was clear that there was little collaboration and criminals were taking advantage of this lack of coordination.
The SANDF has increased the deployments along the border with Mozambique here and the law enforcement agencies will continue to do their best to prevent the cross border car thefts with the support of the community. Without your support, very little progress will be made.
The Department of International Relations and Cooperation will coordinate discussions between the security cluster in South Africa and their Mozambican counterparts on cross-border crime and also illegal migration issues.
Complaints about late registration of births have been followed up and the Department of Home Affairs has been running outreach programmes registering South African children in the district.
During the State of the Nation Address I raised concern about attacks on citizens living with albinism leading to people living with albinism living in fear.
Manguzi was the site of the horrific murder of Miss Thandazile Mpunzi in 2015. I am happy that the community wants to be assisted to end this scourge of attacks of people with albinism.
South Africans with albinism are human beings like all of us and should be treated with respect and be protected from attacks which arise from prejudice and ignorance. Abantu abanebala elimhlophe bayafana nathi sonke, akumele bahlaselwe. Police will do everything possible to track down those who attack people with albinism.
Social programmes including door to door campaigns have been conducted to educate the community on Albinism.
Awareness programmes must be held nationally on 13 June, the International Albinism Awareness Day to pledge support to people with albinism.
One of government’s key programmes since freedom has been the promotion of access to justice by the poor nationally. It is for this reason that government opened the first High Court in Limpopo last year. A High Court is also being constructed for Mpumalanga province to bring justice closer to the people.
In this regard, government is investigating the possibility of opening uMkhanyakude North magisterial district that will cover the Jozini and uMhlabuyalingana local municipalities.
This will ensure that local people do not travel long distances to Ubombo to obtain court services.
One of the benefits of a free South Africa has been the expansion of telecommunication services nationwide. Millions of our people have access to cellphones which have made communication easier in remote areas.
The Department of Telecommunications and Postal Services is in discussion with the network operators Vodacom and MTN about improving network reception in this area, as this will help in the fight against crime. Police indicated that poor network reception near the border hinders their work in tracking stolen cars.
This district is known to have difficulties with access to water for our people. Government through the Department of Water and Sanitation is implementing two projects, the Kwazibi Water Supply Project and Greater Mseleni Water Supply scheme to assist in addressing water supply challenges in the area.
Once both schemes are completed, they will supply more than three thousand households with safe potable water.
The Department of Environmental Affairs nationally is working with the province to address the transformation issues and other matters that the community raised about the Isimangaliso Wetland Park.
Iminyango kahulumeni izoqhubeka nokuzisebenza izicelo zomphakathi ngoba zibalulekile. Inkululeko isho uhulumeni olalelayo, aphendule.
In 1994, we undertook to build a non-racial society in which racism would be a thing of the past.
Sadly, the ideology of racism remains firmly entrenched among some in our population.
Some racist incidents have occurred here in UMkhanyakude District where some tourism establishments have excluded black people on the basis of colour.
In the fight against racism, government, through the Department of Justice is finalising the National Action Plan against Racism and Related Intolerances.
This Plan will give further clarity and guidance to government and to the broader South African society on the fight against racism and related intolerances.
We have also recently published the Prevention and Combating of Hate Crimes and Hate Speech Bill.
Once it becomes law, it will criminalise several forms of discrimination including on the basis of race, gender, sexual orientation, religion and nationality.
Let us unite against racism. We must build the type of society that Oliver Reginald Tambo spoke about, a united South Africa which is free of racism.
The spirit of non-racialism should not only extend to the people as a whole, but it should also be a firm foundation stone upon which our new society stands. Each of us should, therefore, foster the spirit of oneness amongst all our people.
Even though suspicions will not disappear overnight, the building of one South African nation is a national task of paramount importance.
Our country continues to be a popular destination for international conferences. On 3-5 May we will proudly host the World Economic Forum Africa meeting in Durban.
The summit will bring together a number of Heads of State and Government and Ministers, global captains of industry and influential decision makers from all over the world. This is a wonderful opportunity to showcase our country. We look forward to hosting them all.
During the month of May, we shall mark Africa month under the theme The Year of Oliver Reginald Tambo: Building a Better Africa and a Better World.
Africa Month will provide an opportunity to further deepen our warm relations with sister nations in the continent and to promote African culture, economic development and progress in various fields.
Tomorrow the nation will lay to Mr Phillip Kgosana, a PAC leader and liberation stalwart who led more than thirty thousand marchers to the racist parliament in Cape Town in 1960. On this Freedom Day we acknowledge his contribution and that of all who sacrificed for freedom. Government declared a Special Provincial Official Funeral befitting Mr Kgosana’s stature.
Tomorrow, on 28 April we will honour many local and international distinguished persons with National Orders, the highest awards that the nation bestows on deserving persons.
This year’s recipients include veterans of the struggle and those who have excelled in sports, journalism, the arts, those who have displayed bravery and eminent international persons who have been reliable and dedicated friends of our country during the struggle for freedom. We congratulate all of them for their achievements.
Freedom comes with responsibility. We must continue to work together, each making their own contribution to build a South Africa that is free of poverty, inequality and unemployment.
We must build safer and crime-free communities.
Importantly, let us promote unity and togetherness, as we build the South Africa that we all love.
Happy Freedom Day to you all.
I thank you.
Source: The Presidency Republic of South Africa