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Makwetla: Freedom Day celebration (27/04/2007)

27th April 2007

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Date: 27/04/2007

Source: Mpumalanga Provincial Government

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Title: Makwetla: Freedom Day celebration

 

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Keynote address by Honourable Premier TSP Makwetla on Freedom Day, KaMhlushwa Stadium, Nkomazi Municipality

 

Programme Director,
The Mayor of Nkomazi Municipality,
The Deputy Minister of Education, Honourable E Surty,
Members of the Executive Council, MP's and MPL's,
Our Executive Mayors and Councillors,
Our Traditional Leaders and Spiritual Leaders,
The municipality of Nkomazi and our province at large,
Comrades and compatriots,
Distinguished guests,
Ladies and gentlemen

Today, Freedom Day celebrations come in the wake of the sad news of the untimely death of the former Deputy Speaker of our Legislature and Chairperson of Committees of the Legislature, Honourable Thoko Mabena. She infused the spirit of the struggle days to occasions such as this. Today, 27 April 2007, we celebrate Freedom Day to mark the 13th year since our country achieved freedom and democracy.

This is a special day in the lives of all South Africans because this day ushered a turning point in the political life of a nation whose people had for many years suffered the indignity of race-based discrimination, subjugation, torture, deprivation, underdevelopment and poverty under apartheid. Freedom Day signalled the beginning of the Age of Hope founded on the values of non-discrimination, equality, non-sexism and non-racialism to ensure that we open up possibilities for all South Africans to thrive and develop to full potential in a free country. For many poor South Africans, this day opened a window of hope towards a shared vision for a better life.

"The society we seek to replace was, to a very significant degree, built on the law of the jungle of the survival of the fittest. Accordingly, the weakest, who were denied access to power, became landless, the unemployed, the uneducated, the surplus people deported to the so-called homelands, the victims of abject poverty. Among these are those in our cities and towns who have lost all hope and all self-worth, who have slid into a twilight world of drug and alcohol abuse, the continuous sexual and physical abuse of women and children, of purposeless wars fought with fists and boots, with metal rods, knives and guns, every day resulting in death and grievous bodily harm.

The society we seek to replace entrenched corruption in all areas of human activity, informed by the notion that the concepts of rights and wrong are dead and therefore, that everything that serves my personal interest is permissible."

Freedom Day celebrates the resilience, tenacity and collective commitment of South African people in all spheres of life, in their quest to build and sustain a winning nation. Against the adversity of torture, brutality and murder perpetrated by the hegemonic forces of the repressive apartheid regime, the immortal winning mettle of our struggle heroes and heroines brought us freedom and democracy that we are all enjoying today. Their sacrifices in the face of adversity laid the foundation for future generations to believe in the winning character of the South African nation.

As we celebrate and enjoy freedom, we must honour our heroes and heroines whose fight and winning character made it possible for us to attain freedom. We need to treasure and protect our freedom so that it is not undermined by vestiges of our negative and repulsive past. In the face of extreme poverty and economic deprivation during apartheid, the poor people of our land never succumbed to helplessness and despair, but turned to self-reliance to advance their own development in the face of difficulties imposed by the oppressive environment. Our people knew that a winning nation is borne out of relentless struggles for self-development and personal sacrifice. The lesson we are learning in the struggle of our times is that there is no room for despair and inaction in the face of poverty and deprivation.

Many of our leaders and successful people in our country today grew up in social conditions that required mental toughness and a winning attitude to overcome life obstacles and deprivation. Despite this, they soldiered on to work towards the creation of a better life for themselves and to contribute to the successes of a winning nation. The freedom of a winning nation such as ours will only be sustainably nourished by individuals in different spheres of life whose appreciation of freedom lies in the understanding that they need to tap into their abilities to bring about changes to their lives and that of a nation.

In enjoying freedom, we must guard against destructive values of entitlement and inaction engendered by the 'hope that government will provide for me'. Instead, we must be inspired by values of self-help and self-development so that we partner with government in taking advantage of opportunities presented by the freedom and democracy that we enjoy as a nation. As we renew our pledge for a national partnership to build a better life for all, we should be inspired by the values of a winning nation, whose legacy was bequeathed by our struggle heroes and heroines who were able to confront adversity to deliver freedom for us and future generations.

Programme Director, there is an increasing acceptance that civic engagement is critical in the improvement of public sector performance, hence the call for partnership in building a winning nation. This is critical in ensuring that we build a better life for all. Constructive civil society participation ensures that there is an improvement in government accountability and thus efficient delivery of services. Communities must be actively involved in development and services delivery initiatives taking place in their localities so that they make inputs about the nature of services and development.

Programme Director, as a province, we are cognisant that central to freedom and democracy is the quest for building a rights-based and caring society that promotes equality, human dignity, civil liberties and socio-economic rights enshrined in our Constitution. In our celebration today, we call upon all stakeholders in the province to forge and sustain partnerships aimed at improving the lives of the people of the province.

We need to strengthen the partnerships between government, the private sector, organised labour, traditional leadership institutions, civil society and communities to advance the progressive realisation of second-generation rights. These are rights that focus on socio-economic development and empowerment of citizens so that they are able to truly enjoy freedom and democracy. We need to be conscious of the need to accelerate service delivery in critical areas that impact on socio-economic development needs of communities in order to advance opportunities for these communities to enjoy freedom and a better life.

In his address on Freedom Day in 2006, President Thabo Mbeki highlighted the centrality of service delivery in advancing the realisation of freedom by citizens, to quote him,: "Clearly, the matter of service delivery is central to our freedom because we cannot enjoy this freedom while our fellow South Africans have no clean water, have no sanitation and are still using the bucket system. We cannot enjoy this freedom while many among us still have no electricity and other basic services. It is therefore very important that all spheres of government combine their efforts to ensure speedy implementation of programmes around these basic services."

As a province, we have concluded the project on the eradication of the bucket toilet system as part of the government plan to address sanitation backlogs. In addressing the problem of access to water services, the province has prioritised the 'Water for All' flagship project to build water services infrastructure that will enable all citizens have access to water services by 2010.

All municipalities have finalised plans to address water services backlogs in all communities. Comrades and colleagues, 'Renewing our pledge' to build a partnership for a better life means that communities, labour and the private sector should support the government's effort in rolling out the 'Water for All' flagship project. We are buoyed by the province's leadership commitment at provincial and local levels in driving this project of providing water to all citizens in Mpumalanga.

Communities should work with ward councillors in ensuring that their water services needs are properly incorporated into the plans of municipalities. Community mobilisation and awareness in tackling the 'Big Five' is critical.
Progress and achievements in the government's electrification programme continue to offer prospects for creating economic development possibilities and a better life in previously underdeveloped areas. With access to electricity, better technologies are used in households, schools and hospitals to improve the quality of life, learning and service delivery. All of these changes are about the value of freedom that we are celebrating today.

For many poor South Africans, owning a house through the government's housing programme brought the ultimate satisfaction and realisation of what freedom meant to the people. While major successes have been achieved in housing delivery in the province, we all acknowledge that there is room for improvement. Accelerated delivery of housing is one of the priorities that government is attending to.

Partnerships with the private sector are critical in finding strategies to enhance skills shortages and addressing delivery capacity constraints of the construction industry in the province, especially when it comes to social infrastructure such housing, schools and hospitals. Failing to deliver on critical social infrastructure is not an option. We cannot be the ones responsible for denying freedom to those who have waited for 13 years to receive houses and access better learning and health facilities. A winning nation like ours cannot fail its people. That is why today we say we must "Renew our Pledge towards a national partnership to build a better life for all."

Programme Director, the environment of freedom provides endless opportunities for individuals and communities to take advantage of economic opportunities for development. For many of us, our experience of freedom is felt through access to jobs, business development and investment opportunities. When outlining the government programme in the State of the Province Address in February this year, we committed to the programme of enhancing economic development and job creation to half poverty and unemployment by 2014 in the province. To achieve this, we prioritised Moloto and Maputo development corridors to unlock economic development opportunities that will lead to job creation in the province. Businesses must identify investment opportunities that will provide much needed development and jobs.

Other development interventions include investments in agricultural support programmes such as Masibuyel'emasimini, the massification of Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) to accelerate the creation of job opportunities, investments in the road infrastructure network as well as tourism development. In all these endeavours we have designed programmes to target the youth, women, and people with disabilities to ensure that they benefit from these opportunities.

Programme Director, the government's programme of social transformation recognised that the Freedom we are celebrating today was the beginning of a healing process that would lead to the reconstruction of national identity towards a shared vision and sense of common nationhood and destiny among its citizens. For such a vision to be realised, social cohesion around agreed and shared principles and values needed to emerge as the nation began to deal with the legacy of its repulsive past characterised by inequality, racial discrimination, violence and poor race relations.

As we celebrate Freedom Day, we must be alive to the need to advocate and practise values that promote dignity and respect for one another as people. We should enhance our governance institutions in delivering programmes that promote the values of tolerance, diversity and a culture of human rights. Our social cohesion should be enhanced by our shared heritage of the past we are coming from. As a nation, our common history and the symbols of dominance, oppression and struggle for freedom affects every one of us in different ways as South Africans, black or white. This realisation calls on all of us to learn to appreciate the South African heritage in a manner that transcends racial enclaves that characterised our history and racial identities.
We must realise that the interwovenness of our past is the basis for shared heritage and social cohesion. Our celebration today should encourage everyone to unite behind a shared national identity as South Africans. As a province, we are prioritising issues of provincial heritage in the context of the flagship project on 'Heritage, Greening Mpumalanga and Tourism'. The heritage part of the flagship focuses on defining, recording and preserving Mpumalanga's heritage for present and future generations.

Research on provincial heritage has presented immense opportunities for the people of the province to reflect on how their heritage defines who they are. The discussion on provincial heritage must transcend binary identities of race, i.e. 'us and them', 'our heritage, their heritage', 'Black heritage', 'White heritage'. An integrated approach to our system of managing provincial heritage is necessary so that we promote a shared sense of nationhood, cohesively linked by our past, shared heritage and destiny. The challenge of promoting social integration and cohesion remains a priority in the province.

Our celebration of Freedom today will be meaningless if; in our communities, women and children continue to suffer the indignity of serious abuse and rape. We should mobilise our collective efforts to ensure that we prevent the violations of human rights perpetrated against women, children, the elderly and the disabled. We need strong partnerships to fight crime so that our enjoyment of freedom is realised in areas where we live and work.

In areas where communities and businesses are terrorised by criminal elements, we must renew our pledge to enhance partnerships with law enforcement agencies to make sure that the law takes its course in dealing with these rogue elements. It is critical to work together in improving the effectiveness of community policing forums in fighting crime. We must combat crime, but over and above that, we must remake our society not to engender criminality.

Programme Director, we will sustain the partnership between government and its social partners, including traditional leadership institutions in implementing moral regeneration programmes aimed at the promotion of moral values and social cohesion. We hope that these partnerships will have a positive impact on creating a culture of human rights and a zero tolerance for the Lumpen-proletariat.

Comrades, we have a responsibility to nurture and protect the values and principles of freedom and democratic governance. We cannot fail because we have the leadership pedigree as a winning nation to deliver on the freedom aspirations of all South Africans. Let the lofty goals of this historic day continue to inspire us and may the many times it will return in future, find this land better than it was yesterday and today. Let freedom rain incessantly to all and for all South Africans. And may the spirit and legacy of the freedom struggle and its martyrs live on. Enjoy Freedom Day!

I thank you.

Issued by: Mpumalanga Provincial Government
27 April 2007

 

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