South Africa gears up for Human Rights Day

Friday, March 20, 2009

Pretoria - South Africans across the country will join in the celebrations on Saturday to mark Human Rights Day, a day to reflect on the struggles endured to achieve democracy and freedom.

South Africans enjoy a world-acclaimed Constitution which includes the right to access to health facilities, education, clean water and housing among others.

The national event will be held in Kimberly in the Northern Cape where President Kgalema Motlanthe is to deliver the keynote address. He will be accompanied by the Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development Enver Surty.

This important day, themed "Celebrating 15 Years of Human Rights", was set aside to remind South Africans and the world that people in South Africa will never again be denied their human rights.

Deputy President Baleka Mbete is expected to present a national message of common vision towards a more peaceful, unified and prosperous South Africa at the National Interface Prayer Day in Free State.

As part of the events planned for the day, various leaders from government, civil society, community organisations, as well as church leaders will lead the service to commemorate the meaning of Human Rights Day and to celebrate the political, religious and cultural diversity of our country.

Dr Mathole Motshekga, Father Smangaliso Mkhatswa and Reverend Vukile Mehane are among the guests who will attend the service in Bloemfontein at the Vista University open grounds.

The interfaith prayer, expected to be attended by over 5 000 people, will be conducted by the leadership of different formations, which include African religion, Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, Judaism, Bahai, Christianity and Rastafarianism.

Thousands of people are also expected to attend the KwaZulu-Natal Provincial Government celebration which will also mark the official launch of eleven District Human Rights Forums for the various districts in the province

The core function of these fora is to carry out human rights education and provide a platform where human rights violations can be reported.

Premier Sibusiso Ndebele will deliver the keynote address at the event which will be held at Durban's ABSA Stadium.

While many people are still affected by poverty, inequality and racism, government has made certain gains over the last 15 years.

Its social grants programme has benefited 15 million people, 95 percent of South Africans now live within 5km from a health facility and have improving access to health facilities and clean water as well as 9.9 million citizens have received houses since 1994.