Address at Freedom Day Celebrations,
27 April 2003
The Premier of the Eastern Cape Province,
Executive Mayor of the Nelson Mandela Metro,
Mps and MPLs,
Members of the Port Elizabeth community,
Fellow South Africans,
We gather here today to celebrate nine years of freedom,
nine years of democracy, and of course nine years of
working for a better life to all our people.
It is therefore a special occasion in our lives, and
one that seemed unachievable many decades ago. But through
the determination of all South Africans, we have managed
to come this far.
We must therefore use this April 27 as a day of celebration,
but also as a day of reflection. We need to spare a
moment to think of where we come from, in order to appreciate
the strides we have made in only nine years. Ours is
indeed a remarkable achievement.
The 27th of April 1994 marked the beginning of a new
era in this country, it marked the demise of the system
of apartheid, and ushered in a democratically elected
government whose task was to ensure that the lives of
all South Africans were improved.
The challenges that we faced in 1994 when we came into
power were enormous. The system of apartheid had left
many of our people poor, without shelter, no proper
education, and jobless.
The 27th of April therefore brought hope to all South
Africans that things were going to change for the better.
And we believe they have changed, due to the hard work
of all South Africans.
Also important on this day, is to reflect on achievements
that are uniquely South African, which have made us
an example of many societies in transition. One of these
achievements is the readiness of all our people to embrace
peace and reconciliation.
The report of the Truth and Reconciliation, released
recently, has provided a practical example of the magnanimity,
resilience and political maturity of South Africans,
for them to be willing to put the past behind and look
ahead to a better future.
We should indeed from time to time, pat ourselves on
the back for what we have achieved. The TRC has given
us an opportunity to entrench reconciliation, and to
ensure that never again would such atrocities occur
in our country.
The work of the TRC was part of a unique South African
solution that set us on a course of reconstruction and
development, nation-building, reconciliation and peace
Compatriots, as we enter the last year of the First
Decade of Freedom, the question that most people in
South Africa and elsewhere in the world are asking is
"what progress has the democratically elected government
made in respect of addressing the challenges that were
identified many years ago?"
Government has made significant strides in addressing
these challenges. We have broadened access to basic
services such as housing, electricity, clean water and
health care. We have provided over eight million of
our people with access to clean water since 1994.
We have connected over three million households to
electricity. In addition, over 1.4 million families
now have roofs over their heads.
We had also made huge progress in the provision of
basic health care to all our people including the construction
of clinics and hospitals in rural areas, most of which
had no such facilities.
There has also been an increased proportion of households
with proper sanitation facilities.
Government has also been working very hard at addressing
the challenges of poverty that many of our people live
In this regard we have intensified our programme of
ensuring that all those who qualify for the various
social grants do in fact receive them.
We admit that there are backlogs in certain parts of
the country and we are putting pressure on civil servants
to do their jobs effectively, to ensure that citizens
receive the grants and other services that are due to
I am aware of the challenges facing this province.
The Interim Management Team deployed by President Thabo
Mbeki, at the request of the Premier of the Eastern
Cape, to deal with maladministration and breakdowns
in service delivery in the province late last year,
presented its quarterly report to the provincial executive
in Bisho last week.
I would like to assure you that the provincial as well
as national government are working tirelessly to effect
Compatriots, there are also signs that our programmes
for job creation are beginning to bear fruit, but we
must also acknowledge that more can still, and needs
to be done in this very important area.
Our efforts to create jobs require a partnership between
the private sector, and ourselves and in most instances
this has proved useful.
The realization that more work is still needed in our
drive to deal with the problem of joblessness and influenced
our decision on a need for a Growth and Development
Summit which take place on June 7.
It is our hope that this summit will allow all social
partners to make a meaningful contribution so as to
speed up our efforts of creating a sustainable economy,
and obviously more jobs for our people.
Compatriots, that in the nine years of democracy we
have also worked harder to extend peace to other parts
of the continent.
In our foreign policy, we are driven by the belief
that there can be no sustainable development and economic
growth in the continent without peace. We also believe
that all Africans have a right to live in peace and
harmony, and to live dignified lives.
You would be aware of interventions in Burundi, Democratic
Republic of Congo, Zimbabwe and other countries.
Our post-apartheid foreign policy has therefore been
geared towards building a better Africa and a more caring
and just world.
I will be travelling to Burundi on the 30th of April
to witness the inauguration of a new President in that
country, another success of the peace process in that
I am sure you join us in wishing the Barundi people
well as they begin the second phase of their transitional
period towards peace.
Fellow South Africans, as we celebrate our freedom
today, I urge you never to lose sight of the road behind
us, because that makes as appreciate what we have achieved,
and gives us courage and optimism as we move forward
to advance the access to a better life.
Let us, start today, in every town, village, home,
factory and wherever we are, to prepare for the biggest
celebrations ever next year, when we mark 10 years of
freedom and restoration of human dignity.
Any people who have gone through the hardships and
suffering that we have gone through collectively, and
who have moved on to build a great non-racial society
as we have, deserve such a celebration!
But before the victory parties next year, let us all
roll up our sleeves, and accelerate programmes of eradicating
poverty, creating jobs, fighting HIV/AIDS and other
diseases, and improving the quality of life.
As government, we will certainly play our part, to
make next year's celebrations more meaningful.
I thank you!