28 April 2010
As the country marked Freedom Day on Tuesday, President Jacob Zuma reminded South Africans that everyone needed to work hard to defend the gains for which many had lost their lives. “We must work together to build our country and shape its future. We must all work for unity, true reconciliation and cohesion.”
Addressing thousands of people gathered at the Union Buildings in Pretoria for this year’s Freedom Day celebrations on Tuesday, Zuma also called on the nation to celebrate freedom by joining the fight against the scourge of HIV/Aids.
“Together we must eradicate the silence and shame that is associated with HIV/Aids,” Zuma said. “This epidemic can be beaten if we all decide to play our part and work hard.”
Earlier in the week, the government launched its HIV Counselling and Testing campaign, which offers free testing to all patients at public hospitals and clinics across the country, with the aim of getting up to 15-million South Africans tested by June 2011.
Zuma said the government would continue to work hard to improve the lives of the people of South Africa. “As we work to increase the pace and quality of delivery, we must also together acknowledge the progress we have made thus far as a nation.”
He said that, despite numerous challenges and backlogs, South Africa had managed to provide more than 2.8-million houses to the poor people since 1994, and was on target to deliver new houses in various parts of the country.
“We must still work further to get our human settlements model entrenched, as we now do not see housing in isolation in this administration. The provision of social services in the communities in which we build houses is also critical.
He noted that over 91 percent of South African households had access to piped water, while over 10-million households had access to sanitation- compared to about 5-million in 1994.
“We do not deny that there is still much that needs to be done, but a lot has also been achieved,” he said.
He said it was unacceptable that, 16 years into democracy, many South Africans were still confronted with the impacts of the racial laws of the apartheid government. These included the impacts of the Group Areas Act, that enforced separate residential areas according to race.
“Many still live in areas once designated for black people on the periphery of our towns, far away from economic opportunities and civic services,” Zuma said.
Earlier, leaders of political parties, in their message of support for the occasion, called on Zuma and the government to tighten measures to root out corruption in the public service.
Democratic Alliance parliamentary leader Athol Trollip said it was a responsibility of the Zuma administration to ensure that the “miracle” of 1994 was protected through the promotion of an honest and diligent public service.
“We are happy, Mr President, that you recognise the important role of political parties in shaping this country’s freedom, and we would like to call on you to protect the country’s democracy by fighting corruption and nepotism,” Trollip said.
Congress of the People (Cope) leader Mvume Dandala said: “We must all use this day as South Africans to ensure that generations never forget the miracle of 1994. We must also remember that if South Africa continues to deny economic freedom to all, the dream of 1994 can never be realised.”