President Jacob Zuma says thanks to the sacrifices made during the apartheid era, South Africans ought to be glad they now enjoy a stable constitutional democracy.
Zuma who was speaking at King William’s Town in the Eastern Cape commemorating Human Rights Day‚ said South Africans now freely celebrate the day because a number of brave citizens laid their lives for it.
Today, every South African enjoys a stable constitutional democracy where everyone is entitled to equal human rights because of the sacrifices of the people of Sharpeville‚ Langa‚ Soweto and many other parts of our country‚ President Jacob Zuma said on Tuesday,
The president added that the huge sacrifices were made by brave men and women who fought for freedom in the face of extreme brutality by the apartheid regime.
“On 21 March 1960‚ 69 people were brutally killed by the apartheid police and scores more were injured‚ when they were shot at during a peaceful anti-pass protest march to Sharpeville police station.
“The ruthless incident shocked the whole world. Many were also brutally killed in Langa in Cape Town on the same day. They were marching to declare their right to freedom of movement in the land of their birth‚” Zuma said.
He recounted yet another tragic incident where 28 people were killed in Langa‚ Uitenhage in March 1985‚ during the 25th anniversary commemoration of Sharpeville.
We pay tribute to all of them for their selfless contribution. We shall never forget their sacrifices for freedom‚ equality and justice, said Zuma who also urge South Africans not to pull the country backwards in its fight to maintain the constitutional democracy.
He said the year 2017 was also the 40th anniversary of the brutal murder of black consciousness leader and liberation struggle icon Steve Biko – noting also that the sports ground where he was speaking was the historic venue where his emotionally charged funeral was held.
We have no right to pull the country Backwards
Earlier on Tuesday‚ Zuma joined Biko’s widow Nontsikelelo and family to unveil and hand over the Biko monument to the family.
There, the president said South Africans must unite to “make our country indeed a prosperous country. We have no right to push this country backward.”
He said when people talk about human rights they talked about economic rights, the right to water and all other fundamental rights. “They did not talk about rights vaguely.That’s what Biko sacrificed his life for,” Zuma said.
The President however lamented that despite all sacrifices that gave birth to the nation’s stable constitutional democracy, racism still exists in South Africa’s democracy
23 years after the African National Congress government took the deliberate decision to create a non-racial society, South Africans are yet to out grow the era of racial discrimination.
Zuma used the commemoration to speak about socio-economic rights, transformation, and deepening unity in the country: “In 1994 we undertook to build a non-racial society in which racism would be a thing of the past. Sadly the ideology of racism is deeply entrenched amongst some in our population,” he said.