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President Cyril Ramaphosa's Keynote Address at Freedom Day celebrations

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President Cyril Ramaphosa's Keynote Address at Freedom Day celebrations

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President Cyril Ramaphosa's Keynote Address at Freedom Day celebrations

  1. 1. ADDRESSBY PRESIDENTCYRIL RAMAPHOSA ON THE OCCASION OFNATIONALFREEDOMDAY CELEBRATIONS MIKI YILI STADIUM, MAKHANDA 27 APRIL2019 Ministerof Artsand Culture,Mr Nathi Mthethwa, MinistersandDeputyMinisters, Premierof the EasternCape,Mr PhumuloMasualle, Executive Mayorof the Sarah Baartman DistrictMunicipality,MsKhunjuzwaKekana, MECs andmembersof the Provincial Legislature, Your majesties,traditionalleaders, Representativesof variouspolitical formations, Civil societyrepresentatives, Membersof the media, FellowSouthAfricans, We are gatheredhere tocelebrate the daywe wonour freedom. We are gatheredhere inthe EasternCape – inthe landof heroesandlegends –to recall the battles that were fought,the setbacksthat were sufferedandthe greatvictoriesachievedalongourmarch to democracy. It was here,onthissoil,thatthe so-calledFrontierWarswithEuropeansettlerswere foughtinthe 19th centurybya people determinedtoremainindependentandfree inthe landof their forebearers. It was here,200 yearsago that a mightyrebellionagainstthe Britishoccupationtookplace atthe Battle of Grahamstown. And soI shall beginbypayingtribute toour ancestorswhoonce livedonthisland,whose unconquerable spiritsstill dwell amongus. Had itnot beenfortheircourage,theirsteadfastnessandtheiractsof valour,we wouldnotbe the free people we are today.
  2. 2. We have inheritedthisfreedomfromiqhawe MakhandakaNxele,the warrior,sangomaand prophetwho ledthe attack on the Britishgarrisonat Egazini inthe Battle of Grahamstown. We have inheritedthisfreedomfromiqhawe MangalisoRobertSobukwe,asonof thisprovince, whofoundedthe PanAfricanistCongresstopushforself-determinationforthe country’smajority basedon the principle of Africannationalism. We have inheritedthisfreedomfromiqhawekazi SarahBaartman,wholiesburiedinthe townof Hankeynotfar from here. She was a daughterof thisland,takentoEurope and humiliatedtosatisfythe curiosityandcruelty of others. We have inheritedthisfreedomfromiqhawe BantuStevenBiko,the youngactivistfromKing William’sTownwhose ideasonblackconsciousnesscontinuetoinfluence generationslongafterhis passing. We have alsoinheritedthisfreedomfromNomzamoWinnieMadikizela-Mandela,fromAlbertina Sisulu,fromOliverReginaldTambo,fromWalterSisulu,fromChrisHani,fromCharlotte Maqeke fromall the heroesof the EasternCape and beyond – whosparedneithereffortnorstrengthto achieve ourfreedom. We have inheritedthisfreedomfromNelsonRolihlahlaMandelawholedourpeopletodemocracy and became ourfirstdemocraticallyelectedPresidentof SouthAfrica. It is theirlegacythatinspiredmanyof ourpeople to continue the struggle. We pay tribute tothe determinedstudentshere inMakhandawholedamovementtoopenour universitiestoall SouthAfricans,especiallythe poor. It was here alsothat studentsledprotestsagainstthe scourge of gender-basedviolence onour campusesandin our communities. We salute all these heroesandheroineswhohave departedthislifeandthose still amongus. FellowSouthAfricans, On thisday25 yearsago,we foundedanew countrydefinedbythe principlesof equality,unity,non- racialismandnon-sexism. Despite the passage of time,itisa day we remembervividly –the exhilarationof seeingnearly20 millionSouthAfricansof all raceswaitingpatientlyatpollingstationsaroundthe countrytocast theirballots. For those of a certainage,we rememberthe momentwe placedacrosson a ballotpaperfor the firsttime inour lives. I remembervotingatKloof Goldmine inWestonariaamongthe mine workerswhobuiltthe country’swealth,buthadneverbefore beenaccordedthe mostbasicrightof citizenship.
  3. 3. On thisFreedomDay,as we celebrate thisgreathumanachievement,we mustreflectonhow far we have travelledoverthe lastquartercentury. We mustreflectonthe progresswe have made in settingrightthe wrongsof the past, inbringing developmenttocommunitieswhere therewasonce onlyneglect,inrestoringhumandignitywhere there wasonce onlycontempt. Under colonial andapartheidrule,blackSouthAfricanswere reducedtoservitude inthe landof theirancestors. Theyhad, as the AfricanClaimsremindsus,nofreedomof movement,nofreedomof choice of employment,norightof choice of residence,and –witha few exceptions –norightto purchase land anywhere,fromanyone. By contrast, white SouthAfricansreapedthe benefitsof full citizenship,enjoyingeducational opportunities,healthcare andbasicservicesandshelteredemploymentthroughjobreservation. Havingaccess to land,propertyandotherassetsenabledthemtoaccumulate the material meansto sustainthemselvesandenable themandtheirchildrentoleadlivesof quality. Denieddecenteducation,preventedfromseekingemploymentinall buta few occupations, squeezedintoovercrowdedtownshipsandbantustans,theireverymovementcontrolledandtheir communitiesterrorised,theirhealthstuntedbydisease andmalnutrition,blackSouthAfricanswere destinedforalife of misery. The greattragedyof apartheidwasthat itplacedwithgreatdeliberationSouthAfricansof different races onopposite endsof the scale of humanendeavoranddevelopment. More than that, the greattragedyof apartheidwasthe deepdivisionsitsowedamongstus. We came to regardthose froma differentrace,religion,socialbackground,regionandtribe with fear,mistrustandsuspicion. Segregationwasbrutallyenforced,acrossthe hillsandthe valleys,inthe citiesandthe towns,in parks andon beaches,infactoriesandoffices,onbusesandtrains. Relationshipsbetweenmenandwomenacrossthe colour line were forbiddenbylaw. Black childrenwere deniedthe opportunitytolearnandto playalongside whitechildren. Such was the brutalityof ourhistory,thatmanywonderedif we wouldeverheal the scarsof the past.
  4. 4. In hispoem‘SeaandSand’, Don Mattera offeredthe followingprayer: “Blessthe childrenof SouthAfrica The white children Andthe black children But more the black children Who lostthe sea andsand That theymay notlose love For the white children Whose fathersrapedthe land” FellowSouthAfricans, On thisFreedomDay,we have muchto celebrate. Most prominentamongourachievementshasbeenthe promotionof ournationhoodinaunited, non-racial,non-sexistanddemocraticSouthAfrica. Our newnationhoodmanifestsitselfinmanyways.Todaythe childrenof ourland,blackand white, can learninthe same schools,andstudyinthe same universitiesandcolleges. Whendemocracycame, we didnot sinkintothe abyssof vengeance andretribution. This place onwhichwe stand wasonce the site of battle betweenanoccupyingpoweranda defiant people. Today itis a place where theirdescendants –bothblack andwhite – walkfree fromtyranny. Where thiscountry’smajorityonce livedlivesof subjugation,todayall SouthAfricansenjoyequal rights before the law. OurConstitutionisthe mainpillarof ourdemocracy.Itisthe safeguardof our independenceandthe expressionof ourcommitmenttohumanrights. It is the workof the strugglesof the massesandembodiesthe aspirationsof millionsof South Africanswhohada role incraftingit.Itiswhat unitesus.Itis the beaconof ourpeople’saspirations and theirshield.
  5. 5. The Constitutionisanenduringsymbol of ourcommitmenttoheal the riftsthatonce dividedus,and to put aside the bitternessof the pastto buildacommon future. Despite the progresswe have made,we are still confrontedbysinisterattemptstoundermine the unityof our nationthroughacts of racism, throughattacks on foreignnationals,andinthe open displayof the oldSouthAfricanflag. Out of respectforour Constitution –and indefence of ourfreedom –we rejectracism, we rejectthe pledgingof allegiance toaracist pastand its symbols,we rejectattacksonthose whohave sought refuge inourcountry,and we rejectviolence,insurrectionanddisregardforthe rule of law. The sacrificesof our forebearerswere toogreat,andthe price theypaidtoohigh,for usto see our hard-wongainsdiminishedbyintolerance. Althoughwe have achievedmuchinthe last25 years,we still have muchfurtherto travel. Our nationcan onlybe trulyunitedwhenall SouthAfricanshave asharedexperience of livesof comfortand security. Ours isstill adeeplyunequal country. There are greatdivisionsbetweenrichandpoor,betweenurbanandrural,betweenmenand women,betweenthose withjobsandthose whoare unemployed,betweenthose whoownlandand those whowere deprivedof it. In the past 25 yearsconsiderable progresshasbeenmade inimprovingthe material conditionsof our people. Workingtogether,we have builthousingformillionsof SouthAfricans,providedwater,sanitation and electricitytopoorhouseholdsacrossthe country.
  6. 6. From the dark daysof bantueducation,we have dramaticallyexpandedaccesstoeducation –from earlychildhooddevelopmentthroughtoschool andto universityandcollege. More than 9 millionlearnersattendno-fee schools,withanequal amountprovidedwithameal at school. SevenintenSouthAfricansmake use of the country’snetworkof primaryhealthcare,clinicand hospital facilitieseitherentirelyforfree orfora minimal fee. More than 17 millionsocial grantsare paidtopoor and vulnerableSouthAfricanseachmonth. Throughour publicemploymentprogrammes,we have providedabasicincome andwork experience andtrainingopportunitiesformanyof the unemployed. Overthe last 25 years,the economyhasdoubledinsize andthe numberof people inemployment has increasedby8 million. Andyet,despite these remarkableachievements,toomanyof our people stillliveinpoverty,too manyare unemployed,toomanyare homeless,toomanydonothave the basic necessitiesof life. As we celebrate 25years of democracy,we needtofocusall our attentionandeffortsonensuring that all SouthAfricanscan equallyexperience the economicandsocial benefitsof freedom. We cannotbe a nationof free people whensomanystill live inwant. We cannotbe a nationof free people whenso manylive withoutenoughfood,withoutproper shelter,withoutaccesstoqualityhealthcare,withoutameanstoearn a living. We cannotbe a nationof free people whenthe residentsof placeslikeMakhandahave togo for so longwithouta reliablesupplyof cleanwater.
  7. 7. We cannotbe a nationof free people whenfundsmeantforthe poorare wasted,lostorstolen. Andso we enterthe next25 yearsof freedomwithareneweddeterminationtorealiseforall South Africansthe promise of the democratic breakthroughof 1994. We entera newphase inthe life of ournationdeterminedtobuildaneconomythatservesall,to create the jobsthat our people need,todevelopthe skillsandtalentsthatthe future demands,and to buildstable,safe andthrivingcommunities. We doso encouragedbythe achievementsof the first25 yearsof democracyand inspiredbythe strugglesthatour people have wagedovergenerations. Elevendaysfromnow, onthe 8th of May, millionsof SouthAfricanswillagainexercise theirhard- wonright to vote. Like those whowentto the pollsforthe firsttime in1994, theywill holdintheirhandsthe destinyof our nation. Theywill assert,asfree womenandmen,the fundamentalprinciple thatnogovernmentcanjustly claimauthorityunlessitisbasedonthe will of all the people. Theywill assertthat,as citizens,we all have aresponsibilitytotake aninterestandplaya role inthe bettermentof ourselvesandourcommunities –whetheritisas active parentsinour school governingbodies,incommunitypolicingforums,incampaignsagainstsocial illslike substance abuse and gender-basedviolence,orinkeepingourstreets,townsandcitiesclean. It isup to each one of us to playour part inmakingSouthAfricabetter. As betterbrothers,assisters,ashusbands,aswives,aschildren,asclassmates,asco-workers,as neighbours,andascitizens. On thisFreedomDayletustherefore resolvethatwe will worktoaddressourchallengestogether.
  8. 8. Boundby a commoncause,we foughtapartheidtogetherandtriumphed. Togetherwe can overcome the challengesof the present. Regardlessof race,creed,disability,sexualorientation,religionorsocial standing,we share asa source of pride the name “South African”. It belongstoeachand everyone of us,and we wearit withhonour. Unitedbyour love forfreedomandour commitmenttosee ourgreatnationthrive andprosper,let us move forwardtogethertowardsachievingastronger,greater,more compassionate,more united and harmoniousSouthAfrica. I thankyou.

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