Solly Nkhi MPL
DA Gauteng Spokesperson on Sport, Recreation, Art and Culture
The following speech was delivered during the Freedom Day debate in the Gauteng Legislature.
First of all, let me applaud the State that emerged in South Africa as a result of the political negotiation and settlement that took place between 1990 and 1996.
One of the major projects undertaken by the post-1994 democratic government in SA was to adopt 27 April as a Public Holiday and a day of commemoration, declaring is officially as Freedom Day.
The commemoration also implies that South Africa as a nation will not revert to the times of systematic repression through violent trampling Freedom Rights.
The completion of a Constitution marks our most significant contribution to effecting the dream of a democratic nation more so, the right to human dignity, which is the source of a person’s innate rights to freedom and to physical integrity, from which a number of other rights flow. The value accordingly also provides the basis for the right to equality – in as much as every person possesses human dignity in equal measure everyone must be treated as equally worthy of respect.
Since our first democratic elections in 1994, we have come of age as a nation. We have realized that there is more that holds us together than keeps us apart.
When we use the Constitution to measure our progress, we see that the free society it envisages is not the one we live in. The majority of our people are still victims of hunger, disease, poverty and crime. Many people are murdered every day; we cannot say that the right to life is upheld. Many women and children are raped every single day; we cannot say that the right to be free from violence is protected. Many people live in informal settlements; we cannot say that the right of access to adequate housing has been fulfilled.
Lack of effective and efficient service delivery by authorities threatens the survival of individuals, thus creating the potential for conflicts. In South Africa many citizens lack meaningful access to service delivery. Protesters and mass demonstrations remain their best means for their needs to be heard by authorities.
Our Constitution’s Bill of Rights protects our human rights but for many these rights are almost impossible to realize because their basic needs are not met. They live in fear of criminals, they live in fear of taxi drivers, and they are the forgotten ones.
In conclusion, it is clear that there is much work to be done. A greater responsibility rests upon our shoulders. We are the people who have to show and teach the democratic way, so that all may understand and learn to live in peace. Let’s put our community and our country first for the sake of our children.