Reflecting on the achievements of 30 years of freedom

Monday, April 8, 2024

As the country reflects on 30 years of freedom and democracy, government is taking stock of the gains that have been made, its achievements and milestones, as well as what could have been done better over the last three decades. 

“As government, we should count the successes and achievements that we have managed to achieve at this point in time. In areas where we have tried to intervene [and] the interventions were not successful, we now have the experience and innovation to resolve them,” Government Communication and Information System (GCIS) acting Director General, Nomonde Mnukwa, said in an interview with SAnews.

South Africa's Census 2022 national results show an increase in the proportion of households that had access to piped water inside their dwelling, from 32.3% in 2001 to 46.3% in 2011 and to 59.7% in 2022.

The data show that in 2022, over four-fifths (82.4%) of households in the country had access to piped water either inside their dwelling or inside their yard.

The proportion of households using electricity as the main source of energy for lighting increased significantly from 58.1% in 1996 to 94.7% in 2022.

“The majority of us grew up in areas where water access was a dream. We never thought we would have access to water. We never thought that we would have access to electricity. We never thought we would have access to free education. There are a number of non-fee paying schools that we have and a majority of those schools are contributing more than 60% of the Bachelor’s passes for matrics,” Mnukwa said.

She said South Africa reaching 30 years of democracy and freedom is a dream that has come true.

“We have come a long way. This is the year that we look back, particularly to 1994 when South Africa held its first democratic elections. It was one of those dreams that came true for us to be able to cast our vote,” Mnukwa said.

South Africans will once again go to the polls on 29 May 2024 to cast their votes in the 2024  National and Provincial Elections. 

This year marks 30 years since millions of South Africans cast their ballot in the democratic election of 1994 for the first time in their lives.  

The 30-year celebration in the country will be premised on celebrating the gains, achievements, and the milestone of 30 years of democratic rule as well as living in a free and democratic society. 

Annually, the month of April is designated as Freedom Month in South Africa. 

“As South Africans, we need to remember where we come from. We come from an era where people needed to carry a dompass to go out in public. There were areas that we could not access as the segment of the population, which comprised the majority of the population,” Mnukwa said.

She emphasised that when South Africa was transitioning to a democratic country, it managed to avoid a war.

The country attained democracy and freedom though peaceful negotiations and talks.

“There were some careers that we couldn’t do because they were restricted to the chosen few. There were some areas that we could not stay in despite the fact that we were South Africans. It is something to celebrate, it is something to talk about and remember but it is mostly something that we can reflect on as individuals,” the acting DG said.

In his 2024 State of the Nation Address, President Cyril Ramaphosa said government’s policies and programmes have over the course of 30 years lifted millions of people out of dire poverty. 

By 2010, the poverty rate had dropped to 60.9%, and it continued to decrease, reaching 55.5% in 2020, as reported by the World Bank.

“One of the most visible, impactful and meaningful achievements in the first three decades of freedom has been in providing homes to the people. Today, nearly nine out of every ten households live in a formal dwelling. 

“At the end of apartheid, only 6 out of 10 people had access to clean drinking water. Today, that figure has increased to nearly 9 out of 10 South Africans. 

“We have introduced laws and undertaken programmes to enable black South Africans and women to advance in the workplace, to become owners and managers, to acquire land and build up assets.  The proportion of jobs in executive management held by black people increased almost five-fold between 1996 and 2016,” the President said.

In addition, government has built more hospitals and clinics, especially in poor areas, providing better and quality healthcare to more South Africans.  –