SA has a good story to tell, says Zuma

2014-03-21 15:42
President Jacob Zuma (Picture: GCIS)

President Jacob Zuma (Picture: GCIS)

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Johannesburg - South Africa has a good story to tell in the past 20 years of its democracy, but it has not been easy, President Jacob Zuma said on Friday.

"It has not been easy because the legacy of apartheid is huge and the backlogs are massive," he told a crowd gathered at the George Thabe Cricket Pitch in Sharpeville, Vereeniging.

Zuma was in the township to commemorate Human Rights Day.

Human Rights Day is celebrated on 21 March, in remembrance of the Sharpeville massacre on 21 March 1960.

The shootings took place at the Sharpeville police station in the Vaal, south of Gauteng. Black South Africans were protesting against the pass laws.

A crowd of about 5 000 to 7 000 protesters went to the police station. The South African police opened fire on the crowd, killing 69 people.

Zuma said South Africa was one of the few countries in the world that included socio-economic rights in its Constitution.

He said in the next five years, government would work even harder to improve the quality of life of all South Africans.

Every household should have access to water, electricity, decent schools, clinics and an economy which created jobs.

"We can't do all this alone. We need your support as a community to work with us.

"Let us build our country together," Zuma said.

He said in education, the number of enrolments for Grade R had increased in the past five years.

"The percentage of children up to four attending creche has increased by 18% between 2007 and 2011."

The crowd cheered when he mentioned the feeding schemes for children in schools.

He said the number of teaching graduates had increased from 6 000 in 2009 to 13 000 in 2012.

He also said the access to higher education has improved over the years.

"Enrolment at FETs has grown by 90% and there are more government-funded bursaries for the youth at the FET colleges."

He said 12 new FET colleges would be built across the country. Two others were being refurbished.

Zuma also said more people had access to water and housing than they had 20 years ago.

The country's grant system was also assisting those who needed these the most, mainly orphans and the elderly.

When it came to jobs, Zuma said although progress had been made, more still needed to be done.

"Employment is higher than it has ever been... Despite the progress made, there are still too many people without jobs."

He said in the next five years government would continue to work with labour and business in efforts to improve economic growth.

He said unions still had the right to strike and to have peaceful protests.

"Government has begun to introduce measures of labour broking in the past five years."

Zuma said progress had also been made regarding land reform.

About 200 000 families had benefited over the past 20 years from 5 000 farms that had been transferred to black people.

"After elections government will approve new programmes to speed up the process," Zuma said.

He said the eradication of abuse of women and children was high on the government's agenda.

- SAPA
Read more on:    human rights day  |  jacob zuma  |  human rights
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