Zuma reaffirms govt's commitment to human rights

Monday, March 21, 2011

Cape Town - President Jacob Zuma says government will continue to make every effort to ensure South Africans are able to enjoy their human rights as enshrined in the Constitution.

"We must work together to achieve a society where millions more have decent employment opportunities... to achieve a society where all children, urban and rural, go to decent schools with the right equipment and facilities as well as qualified, motivated teachers. 

"We want a South Africa where hospitals and clinics have adequate medicines, doctors, nurses and other professionals. We must work together towards a country where there is access to water, sanitation, electricity, good roads and recreational facilities," said Zuma during Human Rights Day celebrations at Athlone Stadium.

The President outlined his vision for the country going into the future.

"It should be a country where the crime rate is at its lowest or non-existent, and where there are thriving rural area economies with infrastructure and basic services."

He underscored the importance of the equality of the rights of women, children and workers, and called on South Africans to "collectively unite in condemnation, whenever and wherever a woman is raped or beaten, when a child is abused or neglected, and when a worker is mistreated and exploited."

Zuma said that about 15 million people, mainly orphans and vulnerable children, elderly persons, military veterans and those with disabilities were getting social grants.

"Let us continue to promote non-racialism and unity in diversity as taught by struggle icons of our country," he said.

He used the opportunity to reflect on the human rights situation in African countries, thrust under the spotlight by ongoing unrest.

On Libya, Zuma said that operations aimed at enforcing the "no-fly zone" and protecting civilians should be limited "to just that."

"As South Africa, we say no to the killing of civilians, no to the regime change doctrine and no to the foreign occupation of Libya or any other sovereign state," he said.

"We call for an immediate ceasefire in Libya and an end to attacks on civilians. The UN Security Council Resolution should be implemented in letter and spirit by all members of the UN Security Council."

Zuma also spoke out on the deteriorating security and humanitarian situation in C"te d'Ivoire. 

"We have seen renewed hostility leading to the violation of the zone of confidence between armed groups. The senseless attacks on civilians and the rising numbers of refugees is a serious violation of the human rights of Ivorians. 

"We urge all parties to respect the directives of the African Union on this matter and to put the interests of the Ivorian people first," said the President, also reiterating the call for the resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian matter.

He paid tribute to the fallen heroes who lost their lives in Sharpeville, Langa, Upington, Matola, Cradock, Soweto, Boipatong and many other parts of our country, in the pursuit of freedom.

"In their memory, we have a duty to ensure that this country never again resorts to a system of government which institutionalises and legalises the domination of one group by another, whether by race or ethnic group," said Zuma.