Government has noted the planned marches set to take place on Friday, 7 April 2017 and reiterates that it is a normal working day. The planned march and delivery of a memoranda to the Union Buildings, which is a national key point requires that prior written permission is obtained from the Presidency in accordance with the Regulation of Gatherings Act, 1993. Government wishes to confirm that no such request was received by the Director General in the Presidency.
The Constitution, which is the cornerstone of our democracy, makes provision for the public to raise concerns in various platforms including marches. However, whilst it is within their Constitutional rights to embark on mass actions, such protests must be done within the confines of the law. Though our Constitution, in the Bill of Rights, provides for this important right, Section 36 of the Constitution equally enjoins protestors to conduct themselves in a responsible manner.
Those who are planning to participate in marches must do so within the designated routes in a peaceful manner. They should refrain from any form of intimidation and destruction of property. Marchers should avoid making inflammatory statements or provocative actions that could incite violence. Conveners of the march should together with their marshals cooperate with the law enforcement agencies who will be deployed to serve and protect all citizens and property.
During the course of the day, government will periodically update citizens on the progress of the protests, to allow South Africans not participating in the marches to go about their work freely, paying particular attention to operating businesses and informal traders.
Government has a responsibility to protect property and to protect those who do not wish to participate in protests or strikes against intimidation or threats of violence. We call on communities, groups or individuals to raise issues responsibly and in the spirit of nation building.
Government remains committed to implementing the programs and projects that will continue to improve the lives of South Africans. The National Development Plan remains a living document that will ensure that we remain on course to tackle unemployment, poverty and inequalities within our society.
We remain a caring and open government and we encourage dialogue and engagement to resolve any issue through appropriate platforms. Government thanks civil society, labour and businesses who have already mobilized people to maintain normalcy, to deepen our Constitutional order and to underline peaceful protests as an essential part of our democracy. This important right to freedom of speech will not be taken away by this government, which fought to make real the peoples aspirations enshrined in our Constitution.
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