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Parties' Freedom Day message focused on SA's political gains

President Cyril Ramaphosa delivering his Freedom Day address via TV./ ANTONIO MUCHAVE
President Cyril Ramaphosa delivering his Freedom Day address via TV./ ANTONIO MUCHAVE

Yesterday marked 26 years since the advent of democracy in SA, and for the first time in history there were no events to mark this milestone due to the national lockdown.

In previous years, Freedom Day would usually be marked by rallies by different political parties addressing large crowds across the country.

The lockdown has seen political parties as well as President Cyril Ramaphosa delivering their addresses in their offices or the comfort of their homes. In his message, Ramaphosa said the many gains by the government since the 1994 elections were stained by poverty and inequalities that could no longer be brushed aside.

He said these were exacerbated by the national lockdown.

"Even now, after all the progress we have made, the circumstances of one's birth largely determines where and how we live, where we study, where we work and where we are cared for when we are sick. It is the greatest form of injustice. It is a stain on our national conscience," Ramaphosa said.

"The triumph of 1994 was about much more than being able to vote. It was about levelling the field for the black child and the white child, and making sure they each have an equal chance in life. The promise we made on the 27th of April 1994 can no longer be deferred."

EFF leader Julius Malema used his message to caution the government against "prematurely" easing lockdown regulations by allowing certain sectors of the economy to return to work.

"We were inspired and encouraged when the minister of health brought experts and professors to address the nation on scientific reading of the current period. We, however, do not understand the science behind the premature reopening of the economy," Malema said.

"The reality is that majority of workers who will go back to work prematurely are black people and knowing the negligence of big businesses in South Africa, particularly the mines, our people will be at risk of contracting the virus."

He said should this lead to more people dying from contracting the virus in the workplace, the government must be held accountable for murder and attempted genocide.

The ANC said in order to fully pay tribute to those who fought for freedom in the country, they should recommit to working tirelessly to eradicate the legacy of apartheid and ensure that all South Africans find employment and break the chains of hunger and poverty.

"Until all South Africans are free from unemployment, economic exclusion, hunger and poverty, preventable disease and crime, South Africa will not have attained the ultimate freedom for which many of our martyrs laid down their lives," ANC spokesperson Pule Mabe said.

The IFP's Velenkosini Hlabisa also addressed the issue of economic exclusion of millions of South Africans.

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