South Africans commemorate Freedom Day

Jacob Zuma

Jacob Zuma

South Africans yesterday commemorated the 21st anniversary of their Freedom Day. On this historic day on April 27 1994, South Africans across the racial, political, religious and gender divides voted in democratic elections, which saw late President Nelson Mandela becoming South Africa’s first black president.

This landmark election also brought to an end, the evil apartheid system, that had made the people of South Africa virtual slaves in their motherland.

However, the 21st Freedom Day anniversary has been marred by xenophobic attacks against African migrant workers resident in South Africa by some South African nationals who accuse them of stealing their jobs.

The attacks against foreign nationals also come at a time when some South Africans are clamouring for ownership of their land and for economic empowerment since whites currently own a larger stake in the South African economy.

A number of activities were held yesterday where the political leadership addressed the challenges that South Africa is currently facing and how these problems can be overcome.

News24, a major South African online news wire compiled the main points from the speeches presented by the country’s main political leadership.

According to a report by Naledi Shange, President Jacob Zuma yesterday said the apartheid legacy had made South Africans sick.

Addressing thousands of people at a Freedom Day celebration at the Union Buildings in Pretoria, Zuma slammed South Africans for demanding services by burning and destroying the services they already have.

“That is the example of the apartheid nature that is left with us,” Zuma said.

The same anger existed among some of the leaders the nation had elected and sent to Parliament.

“Even in Parliament, we need to be cured. We are sick,” he said.

He took a swipe at unruly MPs whom he said intentionally defied the rules and laws of the House, refusing to be called to order by the National Speaker.

He said others failed to understand the painful past the country had come from and instead proudly wore miners and domestic workers’ uniforms to Parliament.

He was referring to MPs from the Economic Freedom Fighters who wore red overalls and aprons to Parliament.

The crowds cheered loudly and shouted in approval as he spoke.

Meanwhile, the firebrand EFF leader Julius Malema yesterday sang a different tune by leading the crowd at a Freedom Day Rally in a “Kiss the Boer” song.

He told white land owners “their days are numbered”, but extended an invitation to them to join the EFF in their fight for equal land ownership.

Malema landed himself in hot water last year when he repeated the controversial call “Kill the Boer”.

Yesterday though it was the ruling party in his cross-hairs, when he lashed out at the ANC at the rally in Inanda, a traditional ANC stronghold.

While EFF supporters were transported in, the ANC held their own Freedom Day rally at a nearby ground, in an apparent effort to counter a groundswell of support for Malema in the province.

People clad in vivid red regalia, among them children, packed the stands after receiving a free meal and party T-shirt.

Entering the grounds to cheers of his faithful fighters, a grinning Malema waved to the crowds.

Before Malema spoke, EFF chair Dali Mpofu said “Die Stem must fall”, before singing the national anthem without it.

On taking the podium, Malema said he would speak in English to share his message with the world.

“We were supposed to be a proud nation today, but I stand before you ashamed to be a South African. We are not proud of what happened leading up to this. We have embarrassed those who fought for our freedom. When it was difficult they left the country and went into other African states so that they could come back and fight for us.”

“They were welcomed and given shelter and aid so they could come and fight for me and you,” he said.

“We are free but we look down on those who helped to liberate us. Today you forgot those Africans who died in Mozambique and Lesotho for us. We must be ashamed.” You are ignorant because today’s government fuels ignorance. They know that the day you know the truth you will rise against them. It is in the interest of colonialist and imperialist forces that we ignore our history.”

“If we took all the foreigners away you would still be unemployed. It is the ANC who are selling RDP houses so don’t blame our brothers and sisters from Africa,” Malema said. — News24/Herald Reporter.