Achievements, the lack thereof and Xenophobia dominate Freedom Day

2015-04-27 21:32
(Jeff Wicks, News24)

(Jeff Wicks, News24)

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Durban - South Africa’s achievements, or the lack there of, as well as the recent spate of xenophobic violence took centre stage at various celebrations held across the country to mark Freedom Day.

And not only that, President Jacob Zuma told the nation South Africans were a sick people whose bad behaviour was a legacy of apartheid.

Addressing thousands of people at a Freedom Day celebration at the Union Buildings in Pretoria, Zuma slammed South Africans for demanding services by burning and destroying the services they already have.

"That is the example of the apartheid nature that is left with us," Zuma said.

The same anger existed among some of the leaders the nation had elected and sent to Parliament.

"Even in Parliament, we need to be cured. We are sick," he said.

He took a swipe at unruly MPs whom he said intentionally defied the rules and laws of the House, refusing to be called to order by the National Speaker.

He said others failed to understand the painful past the country had come from and instead proudly wore miners and domestic workers' uniforms to Parliament.

'Blame your government'

But while the crowd may have enjoyed his swipe at the Economic Freedom Fighters led by Julius Malema, the former ANC Youth League president, sporting a red t-shirt and red beret in Zuma’s home province, told supporters in Durban that the foreigners were not to blame for their plight.

“If we took all the foreigners away you would still be unemployed. It is the ANC who are selling RDP houses so don't blame our brothers and sisters from Africa," Malema said. 

"You stay in a shack, you should blame your government and blame the people you voted for. The ANC only increased their votes in this province. If you are angry, vent that anger on the ANC and not foreign nationals. The people of Mozambique did not tell Zuma to build a fire pool," he jeered.

"Blame the ANC for your suffering. You are in shacks with no water and power. Your children are not properly educated. The ANC is responsible for that. If you are looking for the criminals stealing your houses and jobs, look at the penthouse called Luthuli House."

Malema urged Durbanites to vote for the party.

"We are the future and no one can stop it. Next year we will take Durban, they [the ANC government] are dying here and killing each other instead of governing the people. We will make Durban look like Miami. It will never look like Miami with the corrupt thugs in power."

Little to celebrate

Sticking in KwaZulu-Natal, the Inkatha Freedom Party said that the country had little to celebrate in the 21 years since the advent of democracy.

People are still living in shacks without water, sanitation, electricity and proper roads. Our economy is in decline with Eskom adding to our woes, thousands of people are losing their jobs and crime is on the increase," the party's leader in the KwaZulu-Natal legislature Blessed Gwala said in a statement.

"The recent spate of xenophobic attacks has dealt a damaging blow to our international image and we still do not have a solution in sight. Those in government lack vision and respond to situations in a knee-jerk manner long after the damage is done."

The Democratic Alliamce agreed with Zuma that South Africans were angry, but party’s national spokesperson Phumzile van Damme told a Freedom Day celebration in Bloemfontein that the anger had nothing to do with apartheid.

“This country is angry, Mr President, and the frustration of our people grows daily. So when King Goodwill Zwelithini incites people to violent xenophobia, our streets become fertile ground for anarchy to reign. Do not deploy the army, alone, as a solution, Mr President. Tackle the root causes of anger, and get our economy growing.”

She said that people who did not have work, electricity, water, houses and toilets could not be free.

“Our people are not free while government corruption costs us billions of rands, and blocks delivery of what we need.”

She said that Zuma’s growing control of the police, crime intelligence, state security, the national broadcaster and the Independent Electoral Commission were the hallmarks of his presidency.

“These are institutions meant to protect our freedom. Instead President Zuma wants them to protect his freedom.”

Empowering black people, woman, disabled

KwaZulu-Natal premier Senzo Mchunu said South African’s celebrating Freedom Day needed to remember that the freedom could not have been obtained without the assistance of other Africans.

Mchunu, who was speaking at a Freedom Day event in the northern KwaZulu-Natal town of Mtubatuba said: “Freedom was achieved after decades of oppression by the minority and racist regime. We attained this freedom not only as South Africans, but as part of our continent that assisted our cadres during the times when our liberation movements were banned. We must therefore, not forget that our cadres of Moses Kotane, Nelson Mandela, Jacob Zuma, Chris Hani and others were assisted by our fellow brothers and sisters on the African Continent.”

Back in Pretoria, Zuma said that the country’s transition to democracy had been successful and contrary to what opposition parties believed there had been improvements in people’s lives.

"Millions of people now have access to education, healthcare and water which they did not have in 1994. We continue to explore ways to improve quality education. We continue to implement programmes which will lead to economic freedom."

Zuma told the assembled crowd, which had cheered him earlier upon his arrival on stage, that there were programmes in place to empower black people, women and the disabled.

Zuma said the National Development Plan was put in place to address several problems, including poor infrastructure and better education.

"We want to end the feeling of hopelessness and frustration in our country especially the youth. We can't talk about it and do nothing about it," he said.

Read more on:    julius malema  |  jacob zuma  |  xenophobia

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