Address by the Minister on the occasion of the launch of the 2014 Freedom Month celebrations; GCIS Offices

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03 Apr 2014

Programme Director
Minister in the Presidency responsible for Monitoring and Evaluation, Minister Collins Chabane and other Ministers here present
The Deputy Minister of Arts and Culture, Dr Joe Phaahla and other Deputy Ministers here present
Representatives of local government
Our National Poet Laureate, Professor Keorapeste Kgositsile
Business leaders
Leaders of civil society formations
Members of the media
Ladies and Gentlemen:

I welcome all of you this official launch of the 2014 Freedom Month celebrations.In less than a month from today, on the 27th of April, it will be twenty years since all South Africans exercised their right to vote in our country’s first democratic elections.

This historic milestone was a culmination of what is fondly referred to as the “South African miracle”; where as a nation we were able to rise above our bitterly divided past and hold hands towards a shared future.

As we recall that day, what comes to mind are the enduring images of the long and winding queues of South Africans, Black and White, waiting patiently to cast their votes, for the first time as equal citizens of a free country.

We carry with us fond memories of that iconic image of the father of our nation, former President Nelson Mandela, voting for the first time eNanda; the home of the founding President of the African National Congress, Dr John Langalibalele Dube.

We will never forget the words of Tata on that historic day when he said: “We are starting a new era of hope, reconciliation and nation building.”

As we mark the twentieth anniversary of our freedom and democracy, we will take a moment to reflect on our journey towards realising the dream that we have cherished over many decades.
This is a dream of a united, non-racial, non-sexist, democratic and prosperous South Africa; a South Africa that truly belongs to all who live in it; Black and White, united in our diversity.
We will also take a moment to renew our pledge towards the goal of one country; one nation; one people.

Programme Director, the twentieth anniversary of our freedom and democracy will be marked under the theme: “South Africa – A better place to live in.”

Since last year, we have been engaged in a number of build-up programmes that will culminate in the Freedom Day celebrations on the 27th of this month at the Union Buildings.

On that day President Jacob Zuma will deliver his message to the nation.One of the highlights of the day will be a multicultural carnival, where the sister people of our continent will participate in a massive display of friendship and solidarity with the people of South Africa.

As part of marking our twentieth anniversary of freedom, all our National Days and Days of significance such National Youth Day, Africa Day, Mandela Day, Women’s Day, Heritage Day and Reconciliation Day will be up-scaled and will be used to reflect on the road we have travelled since 1994.
We will also ensure that our National Days are embraced by all South Africans; and that they are used to strengthen ongoing efforts to promote social cohesion, nation-building and reconciliation.
Our programmes are geared at reminding South Africans, especially young people, of where we come from as a nation; that our freedom was not free and that we have an obligation to defend it jealously.
They also seek to mobilise South Africans, from all walks of life, to share their experiences of the past twenty years; together to celebrate our achievements, to own-up to our challenges and to commit to working together towards a shared and prosperous future.'

Programme Director, we wish to reiterate that while our country still faces challenges, as South Africans we have reason to celebrate our achievements since1994.

We have indeed made significant progress in building a better South Africa for all.

Among others, we have succeeded in putting in place vibrant and effective institutions that support and protect our democracy.
We are also making meaningful progress in democratising and expanding the provision of basic services.
Our expanded social security net continues to provide welcome relief to poor households.
Through a number of progressive interventions, we have succeeded in cushioning our economy from the adverse effects of the recent global economic and financial crisis.
We are also changing apartheid spatial planning, allowing our people to live closer to places where they can access economic opportunities.

There is therefore no doubt that the South Africa of today is a much better place to live in than it was in 1994.

However we are alive to the reality that a lot more still needs to be done.Key among the challenges we face are poverty, unemployment and inequality.These challenges will continue to receive the attention of government, working together with the rest of society, as we enter our third decade of freedom and democracy.

During this period government will implement bold and decisive action to place our country on a path to accelerate efforts to eliminate poverty and unemployment, build sustainable livelihoods and significantly reduce inequality.This path is clearly articulated in the National Development Plan, Vision 2030; our country’s collective response to the challenges we face.

As part of building up to our nation’s twentieth anniversary of freedom and democracy celebrations government is implementing a nationwide and interdepartmental programme to give South Africans an opportunity to be part of the celebrations.

This programme includes the work done by our Social Cohesion Advocates to promote social cohesion, nation-building and reconciliation as an integral part of building a South Africa we can all be proud of.

It also includes our Freedom Fridays Campaign through which we encourage South Africans to display their patriotism by wearing, every Friday, anything that shows their pride in being South African.

This could be colours of the national flag or the jersey of their favourite national team.
We also launched a series of 20 Years of Freedom countdown clocks at a range of public spaces such as malls around the country and at the O.R. Tambo International Airport.

In addition to raising awareness, through these countdown clocks we are providing an opportunity for members of the public to share their comments and reflections on the milestones we have achieved thus far.

These comments and reflections are channelled using a mix of social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook.Our build-up activities also include the release, last month, of the Twenty Year Review Report by the Presidency.

They also include a travelling exhibition titled: Building the Legacy; 20 Years of Freedom as well as the Rise and Fall of Apartheid Exhibition at Museum Africa.
We also hosted an international friendly soccer match between Bafana Bafana and Brazil.
We welcome the involvement of other stakeholders in these celebrations, including Lead SA, Brand SA and Proudly SA.We note that this year’s Metro FM Awards took the nation down the musical journey we have travelled since 1994
.

This contributed in raising awareness of the twentieth anniversary celebrations.
We also note that this year’s Olivier Empowerment Awards will pay tribute to South African business and government leaders who, through their work, have contributed to making our country better than it was before 1994.

We take this opportunity to encourage others in the private sector to initiate activities that will form part of our nation’s celebrations.
Programme Director, our twentieth anniversary celebrations will be joined by the peoples of the world many of whom supported our liberation struggle and helped us sustain our freedom and democracy for two decades.In this regard last week we announced details of our Cultural Seasons with the United Kingdom which will begin this month.

Other countries, including countries on our continent, have indicated their willingness to host events in their own countries marking our twentieth anniversary of freedom and democracy.
We are also pleased to announce that work has begun to compose a National Song that will form part of our twentieth anniversary celebrations and beyond.

Some of the campaigns that will be intensified during the month of April include the “Tell your story campaign” where South Africans will have an opportunity to narrate and share their stories of freedom and democracy. Programme Director, these are some of the highlight marking our twentieth anniversary of freedom and democracy celebrations.

We call on all South Africans to embrace these celebrations.Let us remember where we come from. And let us together work towards a shared and prosperous future.

Thank you.