Freedom Day speech 2011

Address by the Premier of the Northern Cape, Mrs Hazel Jenkins, on the occasion to celebrate Freedom Day, at Springbok in Namakwa District, 27 April 2011

Programme Director
Honourable MEC Pauline Williams
Members of the Provincial Executive Council
The District Mayor of Namakwa
Esteemed Guests
Ladies and Gentlemen

We are gathered here 17 years after the dawn of our Freedom which occurred in 1994.This day marks a historic moment in our country’s calendar of national events when all South Africans were for the first time afforded the opportunity to cast their votes and elect a government of their choice.

Indeed, we are celebrating our freedom that was attained through struggle, determination and selfless sacrifice. Many of our heroes and heroines paid the ultimate price and unfortunately did not survive to witness this freedom that we are enjoying today.

Freedom Day is also a day to pay tribute to the stalwarts of our struggle who include Oliver Tambo, Chris Hani, Nelson Mandela, Walter Sisulu, Govan Mabeki, Elias Motsoaledi, Wilton Mkwayi, Raymond Mhlaba and many others.

Moving forward, the peace loving South Africans resolutely opposed the evil system of apartheid colonialism which condemned us to a life of poverty, suffering and extreme hardship. Life was very difficult for people to survive under the apartheid government. It was a feeling of darkness, hopelessness and rejection in a country where the vast majority have been systematically denied their rights.

Ladies and Gentlemen, during the First Decade of Freedom, we were able to consolidate and deepen our democratic system and introduce critical programmes for social transformation. The progress we have made is commendable; and the decisive actions in the early years of the Second Decade of Freedom hold out the promise of faster progress towards our ideals. But we are only at the beginning of a protracted process of change.

The ANC celebrates the end of the first century of its existence wielding political power - a critical platform to improve the quality of life of South Africans and contribute to building a better world. The strategic task remains the same. But the environment in which it has to be pursued has changed significantly for the better.

South Africa has entered its Second Decade of Freedom with the strengthening of democracy and acceleration of the programme to improve the quality of life of all the people. Steadily, the dark night of white minority political domination is receding into a distant memory. Yet we are only at the beginning of a long journey to a truly united, democratic and prosperous South Africa in which the value of all citizens is measured by their humanity, without regard to race, gender and social status. The achievement of democracy in 1994 marked the birth of our country as an African nation on the southern tip of the continent. It provided South Africans with the opportunity to:
• Set up a government based on the will of the people and on people-centred and people-driven principles;
• Pursue economic growth, development and redistribution so as to achieve a better life for all;
• Strengthen the ANC as a leader in the implementation of a practical programme of social change and a movement rooted among the people;
• Build democracy, a culture of human rights and a value system based on human solidarity; and
• Work with African and global progressive forces to advance human development in our country, our continent and across the globe.

Programme Director, our people always espoused the universally accepted principles of the creation of a non racial, non sexist and democratic South Africa. We steadfastly pursued the vision of a country that is based on the will of the majority of South Africans, both black and white. We stand for the cause of a just, free and equal society all over the world. A South Africa where all our children can be happy because they have a secure future. A society where our women can walk the streets freely without the fear of being attacked or raped.

Ladies and Gentlemen, today as a people and government we can proudly proclaim that South Africa is a better place to live in, under the helm of the African National Congress government. We have a thriving economy, peace and stability and more people have access to housing, clean water, decent sanitation, basic healthcare, education and electricity.

We remained steadfast in our conviction that all South Africans have the right to determine their own destiny. In the words of world icon Nelson Mandela whose view on oppression is as follows: “For as long as the majority of people anywhere on the continent feel oppressed, are not allowed democratic participation in decision making processes, and cannot elect their own leaders in free and fair elections, there will always be tension and conflict”.

Freedom Day thus provides a milestone for all South Africans to collectively participate in the commemoration of the pain and struggle to build a non-racial, democratic and free South Africa in which we all have the freedom to prosper.

When we celebrate the day, we must remember those who paid the ultimate price for the Freedom we enjoy today. We pay tribute to the likes of Solomon Kalushi Mahlangu whom upon his death pledged his blood for the nourishment of a tree that will bear the fruits of freedom. We must indeed, as we reap those fruits of freedom, remember that freedom comes with responsibility of building a non-racial, united and a prosperous society.

Ladies and gentlemen, allow me to quote from the words of one of the martyrs of this country, Oliver Reginald Tambo when he said:
“It is our responsibility to break down the barriers of division and create a country where there will be neither whites nor blacks, just South Africans, free and united in diversity”

As we were taught by former President Nelson Mandela, we must remain steadfast in our determination that “never, never and never again shall it be that this beautiful land will again experience the oppression of one by another”.

We witnessed the stimulating consolidation of our national identity during the hosting of the World Cup 2010. It is this passion that must be maintained and built on going forward. All South Africans were able to rally behind the South National Soccer team as a symbol of our pride and patriotism.

This year we are marking the day under the theme “WORKING TOGETHER TO UNITE THE NATION, PROMOTE DEMOCRACY AND PROTECT FREEDOM”.

It is against this key message that the Northern Cape Government would like to reaffirm its commitment to consolidate democracy and promote cultural diversity and social cohesion.

Ladies and Gentlemen, we are indeed celebrating living in a country that guarantees that never again will our humanity be taken away from any South African, irrespective of their race, gender, creed or sexual orientation. In commemorating all the heroes and heroines and the role played by ordinary citizens in the country and abroad, government calls on all South Africans to unite in creating a better future for all. Nation-building requires all South Africans to live by example by ensuring that the values and principles enshrined in our Constitution become a living reality in the development of fully functioning communities.

We celebrate the Bill of Rights, which distinguishes us among the nations of the world and guarantees all South Africans freedom from the repression and hatred that characterized our past.

Ladies and gentlemen, as we continue to enjoy our political freedom, we acknowledge economic chains and shackles that most of our people still find themselves trapped in. Our people still live in grinding poverty, underdevelopment and joblessness.

We also recognise the fact that the communities in Springbok and surrounding areas are still beset by many service delivery problems such as cutting off of water, bad roads, and lack of electricity and sanitation services, unemployment and housing.

Now we are taking things further. The government launched the Local Government Turnaround Strategy in 2009. It is a major initiative to consolidate and strengthen municipalities through active support from national and provincial government and effective community participation.

We are committed to ensuring that local government understands the fundamentals of serving communities. National and provincial government will work shoulder to shoulder with municipalities in this major effort.

Friends and Compatriots, we must also acknowledge the strides made by the ANC-led government into breaking the backlogs that were created during many years of apartheid.

When we took over government in 1994, the majority of our people did not receive basic services such as water, electricity and sanitation services from the then apartheid regime. Our people were excluded from benefitting from the wealth of our country. We were segregated and divided over ethnic lines, thereby divided and ruled.

In rural areas, there were no services at all. In townships there were pockets of services which were not rolled-out to the majority of our people.

I’m convinced that if only we can work together with other stakeholders, we can do more.

Ladies and gentlemen, when celebrating the notion of South Africa that belongs to all who live in it, we recall that it was on this day, about sixty years ago, when the apartheid government introduced the Group Areas Act. Under this horrendous piece of legislation, the best, most developed areas were reserved for the white people, while the Africans, Indians, and Coloureds were assigned to the more rural outskirts of the major metropoles.

Sixty years later and nearly 20 years after it was repealed, our people still have to confront the impact of that law on a daily basis. Many still live in the periphery of our towns, far away from economic opportunities and civic services.

It is for this reasons that the Northern Cape government formulated and endorsed a township revitalization programme called operation PULA-NALA, in a bid to reverse the imbalances of the past.

Operation Pula-Nala will in the main, endeavour to expedite our township revitalization and rural development initiatives. It will accord a thorough assessment of the objectives and functions of the municipalities both within their current and historical contexts. Development and the work associated therewith must be balanced and coherent, thus Operation Pula-Nala will examine the extent of development in our townships and rural areas in an effort to tilt the scale to address major service delivery and related backlogs.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Operation Nala is about interfacing, assisting and enhancing the capability and capacity of local municipalities to make a positive difference and deliver the necessary services to our people.
The following broad eight point plan, while not being exhaustive, will inform the objectives of Operation Nala:
? To foster greater co-operation among all spheres of government for better service delivery;
? To build changing and developing communities;
? To set the province on a sustainable growth path;
? To create work, expand jobs and fight poverty;
? To foster community participation in the affairs of local government;
? To compile a basket of community projects that needs to be monitored on an ongoing basis;
? To develop checks and balances for sustainable community development and track the progress thereof; and
? To provide social protection, fight against crime and corruption.

In effecting the above functions in a caring and expeditious manner, Operation NALA will create the conditions necessary for the improvement of the quality of life for all our people in the Northern Cape. Ladies and gentlemen, we must still bear in mind that we are celebrating Freedom Day this year under the theme “WORKING TOGETHER TO UNITE THE NATION, PROMOTE DEMOCRACY AND PROTECT FREEDOM”

In this regard, municipalities are obliged to undertake the following:
? Refuse removal at illegal dumping sites in townships;
? Creation and strategic placing of communal waste bins in townships and rural communities;
? Keeping the streets clean;
? Maintaining township cemeteries in a clean and proper state;
? Fixing blocked drains in townships;
? Proper maintenance of street lighting and changing street bulbs to more eco- friendly and energy-saving ones;
? Creation and maintenance of sporting and other recreational facilities in townships and rural communities;
? Fixing of potholes and paving of streets;
? Demolition of unused structures that pose both a health and a crime risk;
? Clearing of open veld spaces; and
? Regular water and electricity meter reading.

In Conclusion:
We call on all South Africans to exercise their right in building democracy by participating in the upcoming local government elections. We all have a responsibility to continue working together to build better communitties.

Elections are a crucial element of democracy and it is the responsibility of all eligible persons to go and vote to protect democracy. We must participate in the local government elections to ensure that we are part of the national collective to build South Africa that belongs to all who live in it. All South Africans have to oblige by and respect the rules of the election period to ensure that we continue having free and fair elections.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I can once more unapologetically say that especially through the endeavours and sacrifices of our National Liberation Movement, the African National Congress, our country has changed for the better. If it were not for the ANC, the sweet taste of freedom might never have been felt or achieved. I am therefore confident that in 2012, which marks the 100th Anniversary of the founding of the ANC, we will together mark the 18th year of constitutional democracy in our beloved Land.


I thank you
Baie dankie

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