Minister calls for the protection of democracy

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Communications Minister Nomvula Mokonyane has called on South Africans to protect the country’s hard earned democracy as the country celebrates Human Rights Day.

“We honour those, like [late] former President Nelson Mandela and Mama Albertina Sisulu, who fought tirelessly so that we can now enjoy freedom and democracy. As South Africans we have a responsibility to entrench and inculcate the culture of human rights in all facets of society,” Minister Mokonyane said in a statement on Tuesday.

The Minister said active participation in democratic institutions and processes is necessary to ensure the effective realisation of human rights.

“Government encourages the public to jealously safeguard our hard-earned freedom and participate in all available platforms to strengthen our young and thriving democracy. We also urge all state institutions and bodies to protect, respect and affirm the rights of citizens in exercising their responsibilities and being of service to our people,” she said.

Minister Mokonyane said the outcomes of the Life Esidimeni Enquiry, as presented by former Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke, should act as a painful reminder that all those elected or appointed to serve our people must at all times do so with the utmost diligence and consideration of the rights of those we serve as outlined in the Constitution.

“In the spirit of Thuma Mina [send me], we must act responsibly and be accountable for our actions as civil servants,” Minister Mokonyane said.

The Government Communication and Information System (GCIS) said remarkable progress has been made since 1994 and indeed South Africa is now a better place to live in.

Cabinet approved the submission of the Prevention and Combating of Hate Crimes and Hate Speech Bill of 2018 into Parliament, at its last Cabinet meeting which was held in Cape Town.

The Bill aims to create the offences of hate crimes and hate speech, and to put in place measures to prevent and combat these offences. It further gives effect to South Africa’s obligations in terms of international human rights instruments.

“In an attempt to address challenges related to unfair discrimination, hate speech and harassment, government has put in place Equality courts. More courts have been built and Chapter 9 institutions continue to entrench constitutional protections,” GCIS said.

As part of government’s constitutional education, the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development, in partnership with the Department of Basic Education, launched a booklet called the Constitution Made Easy for Learners, which was distributed to over 500 000 Grade 12 learners throughout the country.

This booklet contains the Preamble and Founding Provisions of the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights.

Meanwhile, government calls on the respective communities to exercise their democratic right and participate in the ward by-elections. Three municipal ward by-elections are scheduled to take place in Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal and North West on Wednesday, 23 May 2018.

The GCIS said the recent voter registration weekend on 10 and 11 March – in which over 2.7 million voters participated – was indicative of an active citizenry.

Voting stations will be open this Saturday, 24 March 2018, and Sunday, 25 March 2018, from 8am till 5pm to allow all eligible voters to register, and for current voters to check their registration details and provide/update address details, where necessary. 

Voters are advised to visit: www.elections.org.za for a list of voting stations. - SAnews.gov.za

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