President Cyril Ramaphosa.
- President Cyril Ramaphosa has delivered his official Freedom Day speech in the Free State.
- He called on South Africans to use their voting right to vote out public representatives who abuse resources.
- DA leader John Steenhuisen told a gathering in the Eastern Cape greed was the enemy of freedom.
President Cyril Ramaphosa has called on South Africans to use their freedom and vote out public representatives who abuse their office and resources meant for communities.
Ramaphosa was in Botshabelo in the Free State on Tuesday to deliver his official Freedom Day address.
South Africa celebrates Freedom Day annually on 27 April to commemorate the first democratic elections held on 27 April 1994.
With the local government elections months away, Ramaphosa used the opportunity to address service delivery challenges and corruption in local government.
“Exercising our right to vote is by far the most powerful form of protest. If those who claim to serve you are not doing so, vote them out. Take them out because that is the one weapon that we all have. Demonstrate to them that you disapprove of the way they are running things. If they are stealing money, vote them out and take them out,” he said.
Ramaphosa also told the gathering that if councillors and other public representative abuse resources meant for the community, they should be voted out.
He also said true freedom remains elusive for many South Africans.
In many parts of our country, the promise of 1994 is yet to be fulfilled. Millions of South Africans still live in conditions of poverty and deprivation. For those who continue to suffer from the lack of basic services like running water and sanitation, those living in fear of violence and crime and those who have no jobs to support themselves and their families, true freedom remains elusive. The legacy of apartheid remains a defining feature of our land.
In their Freedom Day message, Parliament’s presiding officers said this day marked the country’s liberation from white minority domination, discrimination, division and conflict.
National Assembly Speaker Thandi Modise and her National Council of Provinces counterpart Amos Masondo vowed to hold government ministers to account.
“It is a day characterised by fervent hope for unity and the restoration of the dignity of all South Africans. Blood had been shed, people suffered, too many lives lost under the cruel apartheid regime and the people’s demand for freedom could not be denied anymore. This day brought hope and boundless possibilities as people woke up that day to vote and make the cross that would change their lives,” she said.
Delivering his Freedom Day message in the Nelson Mandela Bay metro, DA leader John Steenhuisen said corruption was not a victimless crime.
“Its victims are each and every man, woman and child whose dreams of a better life have been deferred over and over again, because their so-called leaders can’t keep their hands off public money. Greed is the enemy of freedom. The bigger the greed of the ruling elite, the more unattainable the dream of freedom becomes,” he said.
EFF leader Julius Malema, who addressed a gathering in Pretoria, said Freedom Day was a gathering of survivors.
“We saw many die in numbers. We survived. This government has abandoned us when we needed them the most. What kind of freedom is this? A freedom with the highest unemployment among the youth, and poverty levels. What did we fight for?” he asked.