Pretoria, 29 April 2022 (TDI): The President of South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa gave a speech to commemorate Freedom Day, on 27 April. Ramaphosa first addressed the South African population.

HISTORY BACKGROUND OF THE SPEECH

The President then remarked that twenty-eight years ago, just before midnight on the 26th of April, the old South African flag went down across the country for the last time. According to Ramaphosa, the flag was a symbol of 66 years of repression, discrimination, and segregation.

Afterward, the flag went up again but now as a democratic country. On 27 April, nearly 20 million South Africans went to cast their vote for the first time. Ramaphosa then mentioned a phrase by Nelson Mandela.

Mandela stated that never, never, and never again shall it be that this beautiful land will again experience the oppression of one by another.  Let freedom reign. The President then remarked that Middelburg; the old cemetery, is one of the darkest reminders of our divisive past.

According to Ramaphosa, even in death; apartheid enforced segregation and used a painful example. This was because English graves were separated from Afrikaans graves. White burial sites were on one side, and blacks, Indians, and coloreds were on the other side.

Mpumalanga was one of the many cities that struggled against centuries of oppression one by another. For example, in 1959 the slave-like conditions of potato farm workers in Bethal spurred the successful countrywide potato boycott. According to Ramaphosa, the South African Congress of Trade Unions led the boycott.

Another example given by the President was that in 1957; a group of 914 women marched on the mayor’s office to protest against passes.

OPPORTUNITIES GENERATED SINCE THEN

Ramaphosa then stated that the country recount this day to not hold on to the past, but as a reminder that South Africa is a nation that looks forward; and moves forward. The President then announced the progress made by the Governments as the reason why the quality of life of the citizens has been improved.

South African population
South African population

According to Ramaphosa, in democratic South Africa, 81 percent of people live in formal housing. Nine out of 10 South Africans have access to clean water and more than 85 percent have access to electricity.

Access to basic education and health care is no longer the privilege of a few, but available to all. Ninety-six percent of children of school-going age are in school. Two-thirds of these learners attend no-fee schools. Free tertiary education is being provided to young South Africans to study, a dream that was denied their forebears.

Ramaphosa then mentioned that in Mpumalanga, more than 600,000 children from poor households receive a meal at school through the National School Nutrition Program. This program feeds more than nine million learners every school day across our country.

The President then gave the example of Angela Kgothatso from Thembisile Hani District Municipality. According to Ramaphosa, thanks to the opportunities; Angela was able to overcome difficult circumstances to become Mpumalanga’s top-performing matriculant for 2021, achieving 100 percent in mathematics and physical sciences.

FURTHER PROPOSALS 

The Government also provides support for farmers that have enabled an aspirant farmer like Njabulo Mbokane from Ermelo to fulfill her dream, helping her along her journey from selling fish and chips from a street stand to becoming a successful commercial maize farmer.

Ramaphosa also mentioned that the Government is providing social grants to provide a lifeline and source of income to millions of indigent people every month. The President then added that they recognize injustices of the past; and are implementing a program to restitute and redistribute land to those who were dispossessed of their birthright.

Ramaphosa also remarked that the South Africa of today is democratic and open. The government is based on the will of the people, and every citizen is equally protected by law.

Another advance was that now anyone can approach our courts for recourse, for the enforcement of their rights and to challenge any executive decision; neither government, employers, nor individuals can discriminate against someone based on their sexual orientation.

Same-sex couples can marry, adopt children and inherit from their partners. Nobody can lose their employment because of their HIV or any health status. Gender discrimination in any form is illegal and women married under customary law enjoy rights that were denied to them in the past.

South Africa also protects now people against the denial of basic services, and arbitrary eviction from their homes by landowners. Farmworkers and labor tenants are protected against eviction from farms; and there is freedom of belief and religion in communities, schools, places of higher learning, and workplaces.

FURTHER STATEMENTS AND THE CALL FROM THE PRESIDENT TO THE POPULATION

These were some of the advances that the President mentioned during his speech. Ramaphosa also mentioned some issues in South Africa today and reminded the population that violence does not have justification. The President then remarked that is necessary to deal with illegal immigration.

Ramaphosa then called the population to ask themselves what society they want to be. According to Ramaphosa, the South Africans are people that respect the sacrifices of those who came before; they take pride in nationhood and the national symbols of our country; they are a people of empathy, compassion, and largeness of spirit.

To prove this last statement, Ramaphosa called the people to look at the great acts of charity and humanity being extended to the victims of the devastating floods in parts of KwaZulu-Natal, the Eastern Cape, and North West and the fires in Langa, Cape Town.

The President also called the population to ask themselves what’s necessary to get back on the path to the land promised by the Constitution; what our contribution must be to building the society they want.

FINAL STATEMENTS 

Ramaphosa mentioned that in the Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan, the government continues to work to create a conducive environment for business. The President called the communities to work together and with community policing forums to make our areas safer and crime-free.

Ramaphosa then called the population to not tolerate the abuse of women and children; not allow discrimination against persons living with disabilities; end all acts of hate directed at the LGBTQI+ community;  take a stand against those who want to sow division and anarchy in their communities by persecuting nationals from other African countries.

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