29 April 2013
South Africans should be proud of their country’s achievements in founding a new society based on human rights, equality justice, dignity, peace and stability, President Jacob Zuma said in his Freedom Day address in Pretoria on Saturday.
Addressing a large crowd gathered on the lawns of the Union Buildings, Zuma also challenged South Africans to take pride in the country’s achievements since the advent of democracy in 1994.
“We achieved the elimination of apartheid colonialism and institutionalized racism and replaced it with a new society founded on human rights, equality, justice, dignity, peace and stability,’ Zuma siad.
“Together, we affirmed the assertion of our wise and forward looking forebears, who stated in the Freedom Charter that South Africa belongs to all who live in it, and that no government can justly claim authority unless it was based on the will of all the people.”
The President called on South African society to join the government in its economic transformation and the implementation of programmes to fight poverty and inequality and to alleviate unemployment.
Zuma conceded that the gap between white and black households, for obvious historical reasons, remained wide, as revealed by Census 2011, with white households earning up to six times more than black households.
“The transformation of ownership and management of the economy continues,” he said.
“It is encouraging that over R600-billion of black economic empowerment transactions have been recorded since 1995. Another success story is that the number of black people and women in senior management has increased from less than 10% in the 1990s to over 40% today.”
Zuma said the government’s housing programme had built over three-million units since 1994.
The percentage of households with access to potable water had increased from 60% to over 90%, while access to electricity had increased from 50% of households to approximately 80%.
Zuma said that while income inequality remained high, the expansion of social grants from 2.7-million people in 1994 to 16-million currently had contributed to a significant reduction in the proportion of households living in poverty.
At the same time, the further extension of basic services required the public service to be more efficient, effective and caring in order to make people’s experience of government a pleasant one, Zuma said.
“There are many achievements on the economic front as well. The South African economy has expanded by 83% over the past 19 years. The national income per capita has increased from R27 500 in 1993 to R38 500 in 2012, which is an increase of 40%. Disposable income per capita of households has increased by 43%. Total employment has increased by more than 3.5-million since 1994.”
Zuma spoke in detail about equality and gender parity, saying this would ensure that freedom was felt by everyone across society.
He spoke of healing and resilience as he acknowledged that the country had a long way to go in eliminating the triple manifestations of the apartheid legacy – poverty, inequality and unemployment.
“[We] reaffirm our belief that political freedom must be accompanied by economic freedom as the next phase of liberation. The economic wealth of the country must bring about fundamental social change in the lives of all, especially the youth, the poor and the working class.”