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As South Africa enters the third decade of freedom, President Jacob Zuma has recommitted government to the vision of building a united, non-racial, non-sexist, democratic and prosperous South Africa.
“We recommit ourselves as government to ensure that all policies and plans that we develop and implement, build a better future for our children and the youth,” said president Zuma on Monday.
Government, he said, will use the National Development Plan to achieve the type of society South Africa wants in 2030.
There were other programmes that government has put in place such as Operation Phakisa, the massive industrialisation and infrastructure programmes, which will include the previously disaantaged people, women, the youth and persons with disability to enable them to participate in the economy.
“We are still learning but we are determined,” he said.
“We are working to build a future where every citizen of our country lives in a community with proper infrastructure, be it a road, school, clinic, recreational facilities, a community hall, electricity, water and sanitation. We are building communities that have effective and responsive police stations and community policing forums, and where the people and the police work together to fight crime.”
South Africa marks 21 years since the first democratic elections on April 27 1994. This year also marks the 60th Anniversary of the Freedom Charter, the historic road-map to the country’s struggle for freedom and ultimately the achievement of democracy.
This year’s Freedom Day was celebrated under the theme: “Celebrating the Third Decade of our Freedom through Accelerating Radical Economic Transformation.”
The President told the large crowd, which filled the white marquee erected on the lawn in front of the Union Buildings, that the country is a much better place than it was 21 years ago despite challenges.
“Millions of people now have access to education, healthcare and water which they did not have in 1994. We continue to explore ways to improve quality education. We continue to implement programs which will lead to economic freedom.”
Young people to be prioritised
Turning on issues affecting the youth, President Zuma said given the country’s harsh realities, government should make the economy receptive to employing young people.
This would enable them to create their own jobs through becoming entrepreneurs.
The president called on the business sector and labour to work with government to implement the youth employment accord and to provide opportunities for young people.
“We want to end the feeling of hopelessness and frustration among the youth, particularly in the townships and rural villages,” adding that it is the same frustration which leads the youth to criminal elements and abuse alcohol and drugs.”
The crowd cheered as Zuma arrived in the presidential motorcade. His arrival was marked by a 21-gun salute and an impressive fly-past by the South African Air Force.
For his part, Gauteng Premier David Makhura said democracy was a fundamental basis to any freedom.
To achieve a fully democratic country, South Africa needed to mobilise the society as a whole, he said.
It is for this reason that the country needs to rely more on the energies and intuition of its people to achieve its goals.
“We have a good story to tell. However we need a radical action to transform and tackle poverty, unemployment and inequality,” adding acknowledging that democracy has its own problems.
“We are coming of age, we are now much noisier… but problems should be solved through democracy and not violence.”
Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthwethwa, who was the programme director, also shared the same sentiments.
He said South Africa should use the same mind set to defeat any discriminatory practice as they defeated apartheid.
Source : SAnews.gov.za