Thank you ANC for the Fruits of Freedom.

2013-04-24 13:10

As we are going to celebrate Freedom Day on the 27th of April we must be mindful of few things and prevent ourselves from falling into the trap of saying nothing has happened since the dawn of democracy in South Africa.

We no longer celebrate the achievement of freedom only but we also give thanks to its fruits and how they have changed the landscape of South Africa.

In doing so we will be able to look forward to the future with hope while remembering and honouring those who paved it so peacefully that today we can say we are free.

No one puts it in better in words than Nelson Mandela speaking at the first anniversary of South Africa’s non-racial elections:

“As dawn ushered in this day, the 27th of April 1995, few of us could suppress the welling of emotion, as we were reminded of the terrible past from which we come as a nation; the great possibilities that we now have; and the bright future that beckons us. Wherever South Africans are across the globe, our hearts beat as one, as we renew our common loyalty to our country and our commitment to its future. The birth of our South African nation has, like any other, passed through a long and often painful process. The ultimate goal of a better life has yet to be realised. On this day, you, the people, took your destiny into your own hands. You decided that nothing would prevent you from exercising your hard-won right to elect a government of your choice. Your patience, your discipline, your single-minded purposefulness have become a legend throughout the world...”

In May 10 1994 over 1 billion viewers around the world watched one of the most dramatic ceremony in South African history; Nelson Mandela stood bold and proudly outside the Union Buildings in Pretoria and took oath of office as the first president of a democratic South Africa.

The 27th of April and the 10th of May both marked an end of racial discrimination system that lasted for over four decades. A ruthless system that forced social, economic and political exclusion of the black population while advancing the lives of whites.

“The brutalities of the past - detentions without trial, disappearances of our people, deaths in detentions, hangings of those opposed to apartheid, imprisonment, exile, massacres, assassinations, forced removals, banishments, the Group Areas Act and many more laws that made the lives of black people unbearable - are testimonies that our freedom was never free. Although today we walk tall because our collective efforts culminated in the 27th of April being our Freedom Day, we all still carry scars that remind us that our freedom that is at times taken for granted was never free…” Thabo Mbeki

Whenever we remind ourselves of our past there are those who stop and wonder and demand that we all forget. It is hard to forget when the scares of our past remind us daily. Like Thabo Mbeki said, we cannot forget and we cannot take our freedom for granted.

The racial segregation of blacks started from the colonial period systematically expanded and enforced privileges of white South Africans who by 1993 accounted for only 12 percent of the populations.

It was under these systems of racial discrimination that whites enjoyed ready employment, good education and enjoyed better living standards compared to other groups in South Africa.

The 1994 signalled a start to democracy, a belief in equality and freedom; power or right to act, speak or think as one wants without being limited or told by anyone.

In its fight for freedom the ANC gave people who were side-lined by the apartheid government especially blacks an equal human identity.

It connected the youth and the old with shared dreams, beliefs and hopes about a prosperous South Africa in which everyone was an equal. The ANC saw people as “a people” in an institutionalised divided society.

A common citizenship and equal rights for all was South Africans was created. These values were later enshrined in our constitution that guarantees human rights for all, the rights to minimum standard of life, access to education, social service, food and water and social security.

An independent judiciary was created with an active participation of citizen in decision making that effect their lives promoted

The ANC led the fight for equality and freedom from discrimination on racial, gender, sexual orientation and any other grounds that infringe on human rights.

It fought for workers’ rights, collective bargaining, freedom of association and freedom of religion. In its 19 years of government the ANC has pushed for all basic democratic principles, getting them enshrined in our constitution making it one of the best in the world.

There was never a time in South Africa where education, health, security and all other basic service were better than today. This does no however mean they are where we want them to be.

Since 1994, South Africa’s matric pass rate and enrolment have been improving. The poor now have access to free education in schools and FET colleges.

In universities, the government subsidizes fees for all South African students and allows the poor to access financial aid; in FET colleges education is free.

NSFAS funding for loans and bursaries to students in universities and colleges increased from R2.375 billion in 2008 to over R6 billion in 2013.

According to the report entitled “GRADUATE UNEMPLOYMENT IN SOUTH AFRICA by the Centre for Development and Enterprise: the number of graduates in South Africa has more than doubled since 1995, increasing from 465 000 graduates in 1995 to 1.1 million graduates in 2011. Black graduates now account for half of that population. And over 95% of those graduates are employed.

The 2011 census shows that our educational levels have increased significantly; the proportion of South Africans with a Grade 12 education or higher has risen from 28.8% in 2001 to 40.7% in 2011, an increase of 41.3%. A school participation rate of 7 to 15 year olds in 2011 was 98.8%.

In 1996, only 3 million people had access to social grants. Today over 15 million have access. The majority of the country is poor and a many voters reside in rural areas and have no other source of income than grants.

From the worker in the mines, to the poor women who send their children in no fee schools, access social grants to support them to ensure they stay in; to the student at a South African tertiary who pays no fees or uses NFSAS to fund his studies the ANC remains their only hope for a brighter future and the only political party they can trust to break-out of the poverty cycle.

It is without contestation that more in the 19 years could have been done. This does not mean we should not stop and reflect what has been achieved thus far.

Political Achievements

Many African states have failed to maintain peace, stability and democracy for more than 18 years of gaining independence. However, the South African government has maintained this through the right of the people to elect a government of their choice in free, regular and fair multi-party elections.

Our South African constitution is hailed the best in the world. This constitution guarantees human rights for all, the rights to access to health, education, social security, food and water and minimum standards of life.

We also have a live independent judiciary system with supporting Chapter 9 institutions that are mandated to protect us the civil society.

Socio-Economic achievements.

Since 1994, the government has built over two and a half million houses for the poor, providing shelter for over 10 million South Africans.

In 1994, only 62% of households had access to clean drinking water, today 93% do.

In 1994, only 50% of households had access to decent sanitation, today 77% do.

In 1994, only 36% of South Africans had access to electricity – today 84% do. Today the majority of South African people are provided free basic services in water and electricity.

As a South African citizen I believe I have all the rights to criticize and complain about the government. I also have a responsibility to say thank you, appreciate and give credit where is due. I must also emphasis that there is a need for government respond faster to people’s needs. The strikes are signalling a disgruntled and unhappy citizen. N.B: I am not an Agent, and I am well aware of the challenges faced by the government. Being aware of these challenges does not mean I must be in denial and blind and choose not to recognize government achievements. As taught by our icon President Nelson Mandela, we must remain steadfast in our determination that never, never and never again shall it be that this beautiful land will again experience the oppression of one by another...”

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