The Attainment of Freedom in the 21st Century

Bobby Stevenson MPL

DA Eastern Cape Provincial Legislature Leader

Note: Extract of a speech by Bobby Stevenson, DA Legislature Leader, speaking on the debate in the Provincial Legislature on the attainment of freedom in the 21st century.

A multi-party debate will be held in the Eastern Cape Provincial Legislature this afternoon ( 25 April 2013) in celebration of Freedom Day, entitled “The attainment of freedom in the 21st century”.

Today South Africa is fighting for a different kind of freedom, a freedom that will allow the average South African the opportunity to get ahead in life and reach for his or her dream in an open opportunity society for all.

Today we are faced with the gigantic task of breaking down different barriers – the walls of poverty, unemployment and inequality. They still divide us today and limit freedom.

It is one thing to have a democracy with an independent judiciary, free press, a bill of human rights. This is one kind of freedom – the freedom to enjoy your rights under the constitution.  But South Africans did not just struggle for democratic rights alone.

The new freedom struggle in South Africa today is a struggle for socio-economic justice with human dignity at its heart.

If you have to use bucket toilets, are unemployed or suffer the consequences of a poor education system, your dignity is undermined.

Learners need a proper education to enjoy the freedom that will allow them entrance into any kind of job that they want, a freedom that is rightfully theirs. New research from the Centre for Development and Enterprise shows that to get employment in South Africa one needs to be a graduate. Of about 460 000 graduates in the labour force in 1995, 4% were unemployed.

By 2011, there were over 1 million graduates in the labour force, only 5% of whom were unemployed. Research in 2012 showed that in the Eastern Cape, only 39 000 pupils passed matric, with only 11 000 of them getting university entrance. This tells its own story.

So in this week, commemorating South Africa’s freedom, let us be reminded there is still a struggle to be waged and a battle to be fought. The chains of poverty, unemployment and poor service delivery need to be broken and all freedom loving South Africans must rise to this challenge.

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