President Cyril Ramaphosa says though great progress has been made in transforming South Africa since the attainment of Freedom 24 years ago, people cannot be truly free if they do not have jobs, education and land.
The president was addressing a packed to capacity Dr. Petrus Molemela Stadium in Bloemfontein on Friday in celebration of National Freedom Day.
He said with the country’s new democratic constitution embracing equal rights and opportunities for all, people seems to be aliens in the land of their birth.
“Our people cannot be truly free if they do not have jobs, if they do not have an education and if they do not have livelihoods. So many of our people still experience hunger, millions are still unemployed, many still do not have houses, electricity or clean water. There are still huge gaps in wealth and opportunity between white and black and between women and men,” said Ramaphosa,” said Ramaphosa.
He further urged people to use the Freedom Day celebration to affirm a determination to intensify the struggle for economic freedom.
“As we celebrate the freedoms we have achieved and the great advances we have made, let us use this Freedom Day to affirm our determination to intensify the struggle for economic freedom for all our people. We had, at last, an opportunity to build a new and better life for all our people. We must work resolutely to remove the obstacles that still divide our society and strengthen the many ties that bind us together,” he said.
The President’s speech follows Premier Sisi Ntombela’s welcoming speech where she said the country is indeed a better place and befitting to celebrate the day.
“Indeed, South Africa is a better place today, than it was 24 years ago. It is therefore not a mistake to celebrate Freedom Day,” said Ntombela.
Ramaphosa also touched on the proposed minimum living wage and agrees that the R20 an hour is not enough but just a start.
“Some people have argued that the starting minimum wage of R20 an hour is not a living wage and they are correct while some argue that the national minimum wage will not end income inequality and they too are correct. But what the national minimum wage does provide is a firm and unassailable foundation – which is agreed to by all social partners – from which to advance the struggle for a living wage,” said Ramaphosa.