Fulfilling democracy’s promise

President Cyril Ramaphosa says while many gains have been made since 1994, much more still needs to be done to realise the promises made at the dawn of democracy.

“On Freedom Day, we recall great progress that has been made in nearly three decades of democracy, but we also acknowledge that so much of the promise of 1994 still needs to be realised,” President Ramaphosa said.

Speaking at the 29th Freedom Day anniversary event held at Manzilpark stadium in Klerksdorp in the North West, President Ramaphosa said on 27 April 1994, South Africans of all races, languages and creeds stood in long, winding queues to exercise their democratic right for which many had fought.

“On Freedom Day, not only do we celebrate this defining moment on our nation’s long journey to freedom, but we also reaffirm our shared commitment to the promise of that momentous day,” President Ramaphosa said on Thursday.

President Ramaphosa said people need to rededicate themselves to work with greater purpose and unity to give full effect and meaning to freedom in the country.

“It is fitting that the national celebration of Freedom Day is taking place here in Matlosana, which carries both the pain of our past and the promise of our future. The site of a concentration camp for Africans during the Anglo-Boer War, Matlosana has a history of dispossession and exploitation.

“Matlosana was home to a mining industry which, under apartheid, was responsible for the exploitation of mineworkers, paying them a pittance and exposing them to terrible working and living conditions.

“It was here that the National Union of Mineworkers was founded in 1982 to fight for the rights and the dignity of mineworkers,” President Ramaphosa said.

Matlosana, like many places in South Africa, has known great suffering, and it has also been a place of resistance, struggle and hope.

“The changes that have taken place in Matlosana since the advent of democracy reflect the broader transformation underway in our country,” the President said.

This year, the 27th of April marks the 29th anniversary of South Africa’s first democratic elections. Freedom Day is commemorated every year to honour those unsung heroes and heroines who fought for freedom and paved the way for an equal, representative, non-racial society.

The national day also honours the masses of South Africans who resisted and suffered under the apartheid regime, faced death, injury and repression from the security forces.

Many others battled forced removals, discrimination and other injustices, which the global community classified as a crime against humanity.

One of those who came to celebrate Freedom Day was local resident, Kgothatso Maile.

“We have been waiting for this day to come. As a province and the country as a whole, we have achieved a lot. Today we are free from the apartheid government. We need to celebrate this achievement,” Maile said.

Echoing the same sentiment was Thabang Sehole, who came all the way from Mafikeng to celebrate Freedom Day in Klerksdorp.

“Our freedom did not come cheap. Many of our people sacrificed their lives and some did not live to see this day,” Sehole said.

Sehole said government must build more houses and create jobs for those who are unemployed, especially the youth.

This year’s Freedom Month was launched by Sport, Arts and Culture Minister, Zizi Kodwa, on 6 April at Freedom Park in Tshwane.

The department says the celebrations offer the nation an opportunity to reflect on progress made in transforming the South African society, while also examining the challenges.

This year’s Freedom Day celebrations coincide with the 27th anniversary of the enactment of the Constitution as the supreme law of the country.

As part of activities planned to celebrate Freedom Day, various government departments were at the stadium, offering services to the people.

The Department of Home Affairs was also on site, assisting those who need IDs and other services.

The Freedom Day event was attended by Cabinet Ministers, politicians from various political parties and various communities throughout the North West province.

Source: South African Government News Agency