28 April 2009
President Kgalema Motlanthe has thanked South Africans for turning out in huge numbers last week to vote peacefully in the country’s fourth general elections.
Speaking at an event to celebrate the country’s Freedom Day in Durban on Monday, Motlanthe said South Africa’s political maturity was reflected in a free and fair election marked by very few incidents of violence.
According to the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC), 77.3% of South Africa’s 23.18-million registered voters cast their ballots in last Wednesday’s poll – one of the highest voter turnouts in the world.
Motlanthe also thanked the IEC for an outstanding performance, saying: “The fact that we had a demanding but successful election day, which was followed by a normal working day without any interruption to our daily life, shows that our electoral system is intact and improving.”
The election also showed that South Africa had the potential to unite all it people behind common interests, Motlanthe said.
South Africa’s Freedom Day marks the anniversary of the country’s first democratic elections on 27 April 1994.
Despite the gains made during the last 15 years of democracy, Motlanthe said, much more needed to be done to reverse the legacy of apartheid.
He said it was up to all South Africans to work harder to overcome poverty in the country.
“As South Africans, we need to embrace the reality that only collective efforts from all sections of society can enable us to deal with our unique challenges in a way that yields results.
“Let us all work together to improve the quality of life for all so that the fullness of freedom becomes our lived reality as a united and prosperous people.”