The following is an extract from a speech delivered today in the Northern Cape Provincial Legislature by one of the speakers from the Democratic Alliance, Dr. Isak Fritz, who is the provincial spokesperson on Social Development:
For me to stand here and speak about Human Rights Day is a great honour and a privilege. Human Rights Day is a day of joy and celebration, because it brought freedom and justice to the people of South Africa. Human Rights Day brought back our dignity and freedom, freedom to speak about matters we were forced to keep silent about.
Human Rights Day is a day in which we can take stock of the progress we are making in the efforts to promote, develop and protect human rights in our country since the dawn of democracy in 1994. On this day we are called upon to remember where we have been and where we never want to be again. Today that history is behind us and we are proud to join with peacemakers as they celebrate the fruit of development. We are working together to meet the basic needs of our people and we have found the true way of healing the pains of our past.
We salute those who were involved.
One of the Constitution’s founding principles is the improvement of the quality of each South African’s life and to develop the potential of each person fully. It is for that reason that a set of socio-economic rights are protected in the Constitution, which is an acknowledgement that human rights and the basic social conditions of our people are closely entwined.
Both the Constitution and the Freedom Charter guarantee socio-economic rights. Our government therefore has to strive continuously for the realisation of all rights, including the rights to education, health care, food and water, sanitation, shelter and access to housing.
The Freedom Charter is clear that there must be houses, security and comfort for all. Since 2011, the Northern Cape department of Co-operative Governance has delivered approximately 8 900 houses – and we welcome each home. In October 2014, the department estimated that the provincial housing shortage is 44 111. This shortage must be addressed if we are to protect the constitutional right of access to housing.
There can be no lasting peace or prosperity in our country if we do not all have equal rights to freedom and justice. Socio-economic rights protected in section 26 and section 27 of the Constitution, must also be implemented.
To improve the social security of our people, we must look to the permanent solution to poverty.
I thank you.