Address of the President of South Africa, Thabo Mbeki on
the Occasion of the Freedom Day Celebrations at the ABSA Stadium,
Durban 27 April 2005

Director of Ceremonies, Mike Mabuyakhulu,

Your Majesty, King Goodwill Zwelithini,

Honourable Minister of Arts and Culture, Pallo Jordan,

Honourable Minister in the Presidency, Essop Pahad,

Honourable Premier of Kwa-Zulu Natal, S'bu Ndebele

Your Worship, Executive Mayor of eThekwini, Obed Mlaba,

Your Excellencies, Members of the Diplomatic Corps,

Distinguished guests,

Fellow South Africans:

I am very pleased to address, you, fellow South Africans, on the
occasion of our Freedom Day celebrations. I am happy that we have
so many people from different districts across KwaZulu-Natal as
well as from other parts of our country. Welcome to all of you.
Today's celebrations take place as we begin the Second Year of
the Second Decade of Freedom. It also takes place on the 50th
anniversary of the Freedom Charter, which was adopted at the
Congress of the People in 1955.

I mention the fact that it is the beginning of the Second Year
of the Second Decade of Freedom as well as the golden jubilee of
the Freedom Charter, because when we won our freedom we based our
constitution on the vision contained in the Freedom Charter,
including the correct assertion on the basic and fundamental
characteristic of our society: South Africa belongs to all its
people united in their diversity! The challenge for all of us in
the Second Decade of Freedom is to make certain that we build this
kind of South Africa.

During this new decade, we should ask ourselves as to what we
have done, as individuals and communities, to translate into
reality the vision that South Africa belongs to all her people. We
should ask ourselves whether through our actions we have
contributed to the transformation of our country or, whether we
have blocked its advance away from our apartheid past. We should
ask ourselves whether we have worked towards the goal of a country
whose citizens are equal or, whether we have sought to entrench the
inequalities of the past.

Indeed, we are happy that there are many in our society who have
worked hard to ensure that South Africans march forward towards a
unified nation - a nation that shares the same values and the same
aspirations, driven by the same vision of a transformed society
that is united, non-racial, non-sexist and democratic, enjoying a
shared prosperity.

We are blessed that there are many who are striving for the
collective objective of all South Africans - that all our people
should and must enjoy a better life - and through practical
actions, are themselves daily pushing back the frontiers of
poverty.

Working together we continue to improve the harsh conditions
under which many of our people live. Indeed, in the first 11 years
of freedom we managed to give hope where there was hopelessness; we
brought back dignity where indignity prevailed, through among
others, land restitution, housing delivery, provisio!ial grants, better
access to education and an improved economy. In this way, millions
of South Africans know and feel that South Africa truly belongs to all of us.
Together we have brought to a stop the unnecessary violent
conflicts that characterised some parts of country, especially this
province of KwaZulu-Natal. During our years of freedom, South
Africa has steadily become a country that belongs to all because,
in part, where there could have been serious racial conflicts
because of our unfortunate past, our people, particularly those who
were oppressed, have offered the hand of friendship and forgiven
those who were responsible for their untold suffering.

Yet, the challenges of the Second Decade of Freedom are many and
big. They are many and big because the legacy of colonialism and
apartheid runs very deep. They are many and big because we have
limited resources which cannot address all these challenges at the
same time.

Even though all of us know that these challenges are many and
big, some among us think that it is solely the responsibility of
government to address them. These include those who do nothing
about their circumstances but always complain that government is
not doing anything for them.

These people, to whom South Africa also belongs, usually fold their arms
when their compatriots engage in self-reliance programmes in the
spirit of Vuk'uzenzele.

In this Second Decade of Freedom let us work together to
mobilise all our people and continue to engage in the programmes of
Letsema and Vuku'zenzele so that we do not hear stories about some
of our children, some of the poor and the elderly in our
communities being neglected, being hungry and destitute when our
African culture tells us that 'umuntu ngumuntu ngabanye'. In this
way, we will ensure that all our people feel that in reality, South
Africa belongs to all of us.

Furthermore, through the work that we have done, some who were
better-off before 1994 are even more prosperous today. As we build
a South Africa that belongs to all, we would appeal to these
compatriots to use their better positions in society to help
improve the living conditions of the poor in our country.
It cannot be that while government creates conditions for their
own advancement and prosperity, these South Africans should
continue to demand that it should be the responsibility only of the
government to address the challenges of poverty and
underdevelopment.

Indeed, in the past decade we have successfully worked with many
of our businesses in Public-Private Partnerships to accelerate the
pace of development in our country.

Yet, more can be done if all the social partners work together
especially with local communities, and use their expertise and
resources to help the transformation of our country. This is
critical because the creation of a South Africa that truly belongs
to all is the responsibility of every sector and echelon of society
i!de of Freedom should also see us continuing to
improve the system of government.

The central challenge in this regard, is the sphere of local government.
This is important because more than any sphere of government, local government
impacts immediately and directly on our people.

In response to this, our government has announced programmes to
improve the capacity of local government. Work has already started
in this regard. Accordingly, it is important that all of us work
together with councillors, ward committees and other relevant
structures, to help improve the efficiency and effectiveness of our
municipalities, so that we are better able to improve the living
conditions of our people.

Again, during this Second Decade of Freedom, let us bury for
ever the apartheid scandal of denying millions of our people such
fundamental services as clean water, sewerage, electricity,
recreation facilities as well as access to health, education,
housing, land and jobs.

Clearly, our freedom will mean nothing as long as our people in
the rural areas continue to live in abject poverty and
underdevelopment. In this regard, there is no doubt that in the
last 11 years we have made important progress in our efforts to
defeat poverty and underdevelopment in the rural areas.

But, because for centuries the black rural areas were
deliberately condemned to poverty, disease, hunger and
underdevelopment, it is impossible fully to address this challenge
in a mere ten years. However, working together we can and will, in
time, bring better services, infrastructure and development to all
our people in these areas.

In this regard, we will continue to work with our traditional
leaders, always seeking better ways to improve the institution of
traditional leadership to improve its effectiveness as an agent for
development. This includes the critical challenge of defending our
cultures, languages and histories.

Of course, we should all engage in this work. As we celebrate
our freedom, we would like to ask our intelligentsia, especially
our historians and cultural workers to pay special attention to
this challenge of cultivating our languages, culture and identity.
Undoubtedly, their work will be made easier if all of us as a
people support their efforts to promote our languages and cultures
through books, poetry, songs, theatre and other forms of
communication.

Indeed, it is critical that the mass media becomes part of this
important project of protecting and promoting our African identity,
working with our traditional leaders, cultural workers and
intellectuals, to reclaim our unique identity.

On the occasion of this Freedom Day, we would also like to ask
our children and our youth to study hard so as to be better
prepared for the challenges of a future South Africa. As a country,
we are determined to ensure that our youth enjoys a better future.
These young people are our principal asset. Through them, we must
take the development of our country to higher levels. Education must
become the mainstay of our development processes.

We need to do all these and other things because many people
sacrificed their lives for our freedom. They died so that we can
all have equal opportunities to succeed. They died so that we can
all use our god-given talents to improve our life-circumstances and
those of our communities and our country. These heroes and heroines
died so that we work together to defeat poverty and
underdevelopment. Accordingly, all of us have a duty to contribute
to the development of our country.
Fellow South Africans;
Okukodwa okusemqoka kakhulu kokubonisa uhambo esesiluhambile
oluya embusweni wentando yeningi yi-Freedom Charter, okuyisisekelo
soxolo, olwenziwa ngokugubha iminyaka engamashumi amahlanu yokuba
khona kwayo. LoLusuku Lwenkululeko ngaso sonke isikhathi kufanele
lubonise ukubumbana, kanye nokwakha isizwe.

The vision and ethos of the Freedom Charter remain an important
foundation of our national effort to build a secure future
together.

The last eleven years of our history have seen a radical
overhaul of all institutions in our country. The Constitution
established Parliament, the implementation agencies and the
institutions of democracy and in doing so provided us with
essential agencies to help us achieve our stated objectives.
While being justifiably proud of our national parliament, our
provincial legislatures and local councils, we must continue to
engage these institutions, and help to drive them to ensure that
not only do the people govern, but that our system of governance is
informed by the imperative to serve the people.

Kungekudala sizokuba nokhetho loHulumeni basekhaya. Kusemqoka
ukuthi sonke sibe yingxenye kulolu khetho loHulumeni basekhaya
njengoko senza kukhetho lukazwelonke. Uhulumeni wasemakhaya ubamba
iqhaza elisemqoka ekuqinisekiseni ukuthi izinsizakalo zifinyelele
ebantwini, nokuthi ingqalasizinda igcinwe ngokufanele, kanye
nokuthi ezomnotho zihlume.

Chairperson;

The people of KwaZulu-Natal have been victims of violent
conflict for far too long. As a result, in the past ten years we
have worked together, as government and different political
parties, to ensure that there is peace and stability in this
province.

However, recently there have been some reports of violence in a
few areas. We have to unite and defeat those who want to take us
back to the days of violence and conflict. These are people who do
not belong to a democratic South Africa.

We all know very well that where there is violence there cannot
be development; where there is violence there cannot be progress;
where there is violence there cannot be a better life.

On this Freedom Day, as South Africans, let us join hands and
work together so that we can accelerate the process that will
ensure that South Africa becomes a fully developed and prosperous
country that belongs to all. I wish you all a happy Freedom Day.

Thank you


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