Statement on Freedom Day from Parliament’s Presiding Officers

The Presiding Officers of Parliament, led by the Speaker of the National Assembly (NA), Ms Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula and the Chairperson of the National Council of Provinces (NCOP), Mr Amos Masondo join South Africans in commemorating Freedom Day.

This day, 28 years ago, all South Africans – black and white – voted in the first democratic elections establishing a new democratic government and bringing to an end the cruel minority rule of the apartheid government.

“Every year on this day we must remind each other that we cannot take for granted the sacrifices that led us to be where we are today as a democratic country. Our freedom was achieved through blood and sweat,” they said.

The Presiding Officers acknowledged that the struggles of pre-1994 are not the same as those of today. The Speaker and Chairperson said just as the struggles have changed today so have the battlefields. Today gender-based violence, drug abuse, inequality, joblessness and poverty are amongst the enemies which are up in arms to destroy the lives of the young people, who constitute significant portion of our population.

“Various generations of freedom fighters, through their sacrifices, courage and resilience, created a platform for future generations to deepen the democratic gains and freedoms to ensure a truly united, non-racial, non-sexist, prosperous and free South Africa. The struggle is ongoing, and therefore we must as a people join hands to confront the current challenges which seek to undermine the gains attained post 1994. United in our diversity, we have the insurmountable strength to overcome our obstacles and push back the frontiers of unemployment, poverty and inequalities that continue to define the lives of the majority.”

For many women and girls in South Africa, freedom remains elusive due to the persisting violence, which continues to rob them of their human rights and undermines the social and economic well-being. The Presiding Officers are confident that the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences and Related Matters) Amendment Act Amendment Bill; the Criminal and Related Matters Amendment Bill, and the Domestic Violence Amendment Bill, passed into Acts of Parliament recently, will strengthen efforts to end gender-based violence, with a victim-centred focus on combating this dehumanising pandemic.

While legislative interventions are key in discouraging GBV, equally important is dealing with backward social attitudes, cultural norms and patriarchal values that give rise to this repulsive scourge. The rights of women and girls are inextricably linked to our endeavor for radical economic revival and creation of a just and equal society.

On this important day in the history of the evolution of our democracy, we must renew our endeavours to continuously build a just and humane society that ensures equal opportunities regardless of race, colour, religion or sex.

The Presiding Officers of Parliament wish all South Africans a happy Freedom Day.Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Republic of South Africa: The Parliament.

Statement on Freedom Day from Parliament’s Presiding Officers Thank You

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