By: Lindokuhle Mnisi
|Deputy Pres. Kgalema Motlenthe, Pres. Joyce Banda and Pres. Jacob Zuma|
President Zuma delivered a speech which guaranteed progress of unity, freedom, democracy, non-racial and non-sexism in South Africa since 1994 to 2012. This year’s Freedom Day theme is “Working together to Build Unity and Prosperity” and Zuma said “It takes into account our strong focus on boosting inclusive growth and prosperity. It also underscores the focus on heritage and the celebration of unity through celebrating the heroes of our struggle for freedom, to whom we owe so much”
Zuma honoured freedom fighters and heroes (black and white, and women) who have made it possible for South Africans to defeat the apartheid regime and gain freedom for all. He referred and quoted variety of the past activists and freedom fighters, which includes Lillian Ngoyi, Chief Albert Luthuli, first black President of the Republic of South Africa Nelson Mandela, former ANC president OR Tambo, General Smuts, Braam Fischer, Father Trevor Huddlestone and Ruth First.
“We recall today that our freedom was gained through blood, sweat, and tears. It is through the blood of the people of Sharpville, Soweto, Langa, kwaMashu, kwa Zakhele, Mdantsane, and many other areas, that we gained our freedom and equality,” said Zuma.
The venue, where the event was held, was crowded with an estimated number of more than 10 000 people who clapped hands and screamed for excitement when a compliment was granted to the Constitution of South Africa.“Our Constitution is among the best in the world with equality clauses, which guarantees equality before the law, right to life, and human dignity, right to privacy, freedom religion, belief and opinion, freedom of expression, freedom of association and freedom of assembly, demonstration, picket and petitions,” said Zuma.
According to the President, a lot has been achieved in the extension of basic services since 1994, in turning South Africa around, but much more still needs to be done. The past 18 months have seen substantial recovery. In 2011 alone, employment grew by a thousand jobs a day; investments climbed by 4%; and the GDP grew by just over 3%.
The proportion of population living below a R422 a month poverty line decreased from 50% in 1994 to 34.5% in 2009.
In education, school enrolments have drastically improved since 2003 and 8.8 million learners have been put on the nutrition programme. R8.2 billion have been allocated for school infrastructure.
In 1994, only 62% of households had access to running water, and the figure have risen to 94.5%. With regards to water infrastructure, forty-regional bulk projects will be completed by 2014, benefiting 3.2 million people.
In 1994, only 50% of households had access to decent sanitation, which has now risen to 82%.
By 2011, 75.8% of households had access to electricity, a huge improvement from 51% in 1994.
With his closing remarks, President Zuma made special reference to some of the ANC presidents who led the struggle for liberation over many years ago. “As a country we will honour the following former presidents of the ANC with National Orders Awards, Chief Albert Luthuli, Oliver Regionald Tambo, Sebe Moroka, A.B Xuma, Pixley ka Isaka Seme, Zac Mahabane, Josiah Gumede and Sefako Makgatho, for their outstanding role in ensuring that our country became a free and democratic society,” said Zuma.
|Mayor of Tshwane, Kgosientso Ramakgopa saying the vote of thanks|