MEC Pauline Williams: Freedom Day Lecture

25 Apr 2016

Veterans of our beloved movement
Religious and Community leaders
Representatives of Political parties
Government Officials
Youth structures of our beloved movement
Fellow citizens of the Northern Cape
Distinguished guests
Ladies and gentlemen
Representatives from various media houses

It is indeed a great honour for me to be addressing such an audience on the commemoration of Freedom Month.  

This month of April recognises the emancipation of our country  22 years ago as South Africa made history when it achieved democracy. This meant all citizens of the country became free from racial discrimination and oppression, a milestone worth commemorating as a country.  

Today’s gathering is an opportunity to celebrate not only the milestone achieved by the unity of the people of this country but a moment to reflect on the progress made for the advancement of the lives of all South Africans.

Programme Director, let me highlight that the first democratic elections were held in South Africa on 27 April 1994, which meant South Africans had achieved the right to vote not based on the colour of their skin or social status, but rather as a constitutional right.

As we celebrate Freedom Month, let us remember all the other significant efforts that stood against oppression and helped shape our country.  

This year’s commemoration coincides with the 20th anniversary of the signing of the final draft of the Constitution into law.  It is also the 60th anniversary of the 1956 Women's march to the Union Buildings.  Let us all remember that the Constitution of this country laid the foundation for a democratic and open society in which government is based on the will of the people.

Ladies and gentlemen, allow me to borrow a quote that is appropriate to this democracy we are commemorating this month from the Father of our nation, Tata Nelson Mandela when he said, “It is not our diversity which divides us; it is not our ethnicity, or religion or culture that divides us. Since we have achieved our freedom, there can only be one division amongst us: between those who cherish democracy and those who do not.”

Today, I raise the question as to how much do you value your democracy?

Ladies and gentlemen, today I urge you to continue to protect this democracy which so many of our forefathers fought for and gave up their lives for us to have today, as the year coincides with the local government elections that are instruments of democracy.  

Local government elections represent people’s right to choose whom they should entrust with their local government affairs of the country. The right to vote is a fundamental right protected in the Bill of Rights and as government we are calling on all South Africans to honour our country’s history and continue to strengthen the legitimacy of our democracy.  

Let us ensure we are registered and make our mark in the upcoming Local Government Elections, which is a stride in upholding our democracy.  

Leaders in our communities, ladies and gentlemen; this year, we are commemorating Freedom Month under the theme: “Together building better communities – Local Government is everybody’s business”.

Let us take a moment to reflect on the messaging encompassed in this theme: as it says together, not alone, not government alone but the collective working together to build better communities.  The theme focuses on local communities where you and I, live in.  Let us remember that it is these local communities that make up the South Africa we have today.  

Let us observe our communities and see the significant strides made in the country by our ANC- led government. There is significant progress made since the dawn of democracy for the benefit of our people. The majority of our people have access to a range of basic services and have opportunities to participate in the country’s economy. Our journey continues but we have made strides, and we will continue to “move South Africa forward” as a collective and ensure we deliver for our people.  

As the MEC for Transport, Safety and Liaison in the Northern Cape and a member of the African National Congress; it goes without saying that I will continue to stand up and speak against violence and speak for the oppressed and vulnerable.  

We need to rise to the challenge and begin to take an active role in the safe keeping of our democracy. We need to speak against social-ills and stop the poison of substance abuse from brewing in our communities and destroying the lives of our children.

Government is leading the fight, but let us unite to emancipate those still under socio-economic disparity, facing injustices and offer our help to advance the fight towards a safe and secure, crime-free Northern Cape.

Let us join hands with our law enforcement agencies and government programmes in the fight against crime and initiatives aimed at protecting our vulnerable members of society.

It is the very same social ills that destroy our communities and deprive us to enjoy the emancipation of our country. Let us unite and reclaim our communities. Let us ensure we can raise our children and grandchildren in safer communities while we ourselves continue to live in a free society.  

Let us not dishonor our democracy by keeping quiet when a few choose to destroy our communities.  

Ladies and gentlemen, as I come to a close I want to encourage all of us to honour our democracy and the Freedom Charter that gave birth to our constitution, the very constitution that protects all of us. Let us not allow the few to spoil our democracy but to protect the progress of our country in delivering services and protecting its citizens.  
Let us hold hands and work together in the fight against crime, to create safer communities for all because together we can move South Africa forward to continue to enjoy our right to democracy.  

I thank you.
Baie Dankie
Ke a leboga.