President: 2015, Year of the Freedom Charter

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Cape Town – President Jacob Zuma says government has and will continue to go back to basics and use the prescripts of the Freedom Charter to improve the lives of all South Africans.

Delivering the January 8 statement at Cape Town Stadium on Saturday during the ruling African National Congress's 103rd anniversary celebrations, the President said to achieve radical social and economic transformation, it was important for the country to use the Freedom Charter as a guide to shaping policies and legislation that are aimed at serving all South Africans.

The President declared 2015 as the Year of the Freedom Charter and Unity in Action. He called on all sectors of society to embrace the Freedom Charter as this year also marks the 60th anniversary of the historic document, which was penned in Kliptown, Soweto, in 1955.

The Freedom Charter states that South Africa belongs to all who live in it and that the people shall govern.

The President said government has used the Constitution and administered the country as outlined in the Charter.

“The Constitution has its foundation in the Freedom Charter. Indeed we have achieved a government based on the will of the people.

“We hold democratic elections every five years and every South African has a right to elect a government of his or her own choice,” he said.

He said government has removed apartheid legislation that discriminated people based on their race, gender, religion, culture and sexual orientation. Government will work tirelessly to ensure that it achieves social cohesion by developing the economy through key interventions, he said.

The President said the National Development Plan was also a policy that will help government reach the goals that are contained in the Freedom Charter.

The Freedom Charter at a glance

While the first and second clauses of the Freedom Charter state that “the people shall govern” and that “all national groups shall have equal rights”, the President said more still needs to be done to realise the goals of the third clause – “the people shall share in the country’s wealth”.

While South Africa is a much better place to live in than it was before 1994, with more people having access to housing, health, education and other basic services, he said unemployment, poverty and inequality still persisted.

He said government will work tirelessly to turn this picture around and achieve radical socio-economic transformation by deracialising the economy.

“We must break the stranglehold of monopoly capital on our economic development.

“It is imperative that the Competition Commission continues to address monopolistic, collusive and anti-competitive behaviour and become even bolder in their preventative and punitive measures.

“Our economic development also relies on our ability to untangle the red tape that stifles the growth of our economy,” he said.

He said the ANC-led government will ensure that the black middle class continues to grow as part of socio-economic transformation.

Government would also remain committed to the New Growth Path and the Industrial Policy Action Plan (IPAP), while it will also use the Presidential Infrastructure Coordinating Commission to speed up delivery and improvement of key infrastructure.

The Freedom Charter also states that land shall be shared amongst those who work on it.

The President said the willing buyer-willing seller policy has had very unsatisfactory results of land restitution.

He said the land will be returned to its people, and called on government to act with the necessary speed to put the legislation in place this year to ensure that this happens.

Three million, two hundred thousand hectares of land have been restored to claimants who chose to receive financial compensation, and government has paid out over R18 billion in compensation between 1995 and November 2014.

One million, eight hundred claimants have benefited from the land restitution programme, although progress has not been quick enough, the President said.

Getting infrastructure maintenance right

The President said it was unfair that critics continued to blame the democratic administration for the energy challenges that are caused by years of poor maintenance of the power grid.

He said under apartheid, the energy crisis was not spoken about because electricity was produced to support a minority of people instead of the majority, an act that left a distorted fact over demand versus supply.

“In reality, all of us can remember that before 1994, there was the wrong belief that energy in South Africa was in abundance and that it was even cheaper.

“It was even a point of attractive foreign direct investment. It was a mistaken view. It was because energy was made to serve a few,” he said.

Meanwhile, the President said government would continue to strengthen its hand in the fight against crime and violence to vulnerable groups like children, women and elderly persons.

He said the fight against corruption would be increased to curb the abuse of state resources through the review of the tendering system.

The Freedom Charter also calls for the opening of the doors of learning and culture.

The President said while it has invested the lion’s share of the taxpayers’ purse to improve the quality of education and access, he was concerned in the manner in which universities were increasing tuition fees, resulting in disadvantaged students missing out on the right to learn. –

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