“As we work to increase the pace and quality of delivery, we must also together acknowledge the progress we have made thus far as a nation, working together as a government and the people,” Zuma said, while addressing thousands of people who gathered at the Union Buildings for this year’s Freedom Day celebrations.
He said despite numerous challenges and backlogs, South Africa has managed to provide more than 2.8 million houses to the poor people since 1994.
Government was also on target to deliver new houses in various parts of the country. “We must still work further to get our human settlements model entrenched as we now do not see housing in isolation in this administration. The provision of social services in the communities in which we build houses is also critical,” Zuma said.
He noted that over 91 percent of households had access to piped water while over 10 million households had access to sanitation compared to about 5 million in 1994.
“We do not deny that there is still much that need to be done but a lot has also been achieved already,” Zuma said to loud cheers from the crowds who gathered on the Union Buildings’ southern lawns.
He said it was unacceptable that16 years into democracy; many South Africans were still confronted with the impacts of the racial laws introduced by the apartheid government.
These included the impacts of the Group Areas Act that enforced separate residential areas according to race. “Many still live in areas once designated for black people on the periphery of our towns, far away from economic opportunities and civic services,” Zuma said.
He called on the nation to celebrate freedom by joining the government’s fight against the scourge of HIV and AIDS. “Together we must eradicate the silence and shame that is associated with HIV and AIDS. This epidemic can be beaten if we all decide to play our part and work hard”.
Earlier in the week, government launched the new upscaled HIV and AIDS prevention and treatment plan that will target millions of South Africans to get tested for the virus.
Zuma urged the South Africans to use Freedom Day as a reminder that everyone needed to work hard to defend the gains for which many have fought and lost their lives. “We must work together to build our country and shape its future, we must all work for unity true reconciliation and cohesion,” he said.
Earlier leaders of political parties, in their message of support for the occasion, called on Zuma and the government to tighten measures aimed at rooting out corruption and graft in the public services.
Democratic Alliance parliamentary leader Athol Trollip said it was a responsibility of the Zuma administration to ensure that the “miracle” of 1994 is protected through the promotion of an honest and diligent public service. “We are happy that Mr President you recognise the important role of political parties in shaping this country’s freedom and we would like to call on you to protect the country’s democracy by fighting corruption and nepotism,” Trollip said.
COPE’s Mvume Dandala said: “We must all use this day as South Africans to ensure that generations never forget the miracle of 1994. We must also remember that if South Africa continues to deny economic freedom to all, the dream of 1994 can never be realised,” Dandala said.
Both UDM and IFP called on South Africans to do their part in the fight against HIV and AIDS and crime. - BuaNews