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REMARKS BY AMBASSADOR RAPU MOLEKANE ON FREEDOM DAY

27 APRIL 2015, SOUTH AFRICAN EMBASSY, PARIS

Your Excellencies,

Distinguished guests,

Fellow compatriots, and

Dear friends

 

Today we mark 21 years of Free and Independent South Africa with the theme: Celebrating the Beginning of the Third Decade of our Freedom through Accelerating Radical Economic Transformation”. In 1994 the abhorrent, brutal, repressive minority regime of White supremacist was finally defeated and eradicated from our country. The world celebrated the birth of freedom and constitutional democracy in South Africa. This marked a turning point that saw the previously oppressed become part of the South African political process.

South Africa’s transition to democracy was one of the world’s most iconic testimonies of principles of tolerance, reconciliation and peaceful co-existence which are enshrined in our Constitution. Under the stewardship of Nelson Mandela the country began an unwavering and daunting task towards achieving these principles.

We look back 21 years today, and can proudly say that a lot has been achieved; the foundation is strong, firm and unshakable. All structures and institutions of a viable state are in place. We have held six general elections, numerous local and municipal polls, all of which have been substantially free, fair and credible. Our democracy really works. We have turned a country that was a pariah, tearing itself apart into an envy of many yet much more still needs to be done and done urgently, hence the theme of the decade of radical economic transformation. We have to show the dividends of political, stable democratic dispensation in what the Freedom Charter terms “the wealth of the country shall be shared among all the people”. Our country needs to urgently reverse the racially based ownership of the means of production and economy, wealth distribution as well as attainment of a better life.

In this decade of radical economic transformation, we will have to ensure that we move swiftly in implementing the nine point plan that President Zuma announced in his state of the nation address on 12 February this year. This plan aim to ignite growth, creates jobs and accelerates the attainment of this radical transformation. The nine point plan is composed of the following;

 

  1. Resolving the energy challenge
  2. Revitalizing agriculture and the agro –processing value chain
  3. Advancing beneficiation of our mineral wealth
  4. More effective implementation of a higher impact Industrial policy action plan
  5. Encourage private sector investment
  6. Moderating workplace conflict
  7. Unlocking the potential of SMMEs, cooperatives, township and rural enterprises.
  8. State reform and boosting the role of state owned companies, ICT infrastructure or broadband roll out ,water sanitation and transport infrastructure as well as
  9. Operation Phakisa aimed at growing the ocean or blue economy.

 

This nine point plan does not replace or do away with the major priorities or strategic interventions needed to create a united, nonracial nonsexist society that our constitution and the Freedom Charter calls for , that of Education and skills enhancement, Fighting crime and corruption etc. but builds on these. Our task in France and Unesco is guided by the above.

As we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Freedom Charter concrete and tangible fruits of Freedom should be enjoyed by all our people, the economy must be in the hands of all our people Black and White and we are happy to say that we are moving in that direction.

We enjoy very friendly and cordial relations with the Republic of France and have a multi-faceted mutually beneficial relationship. These relations have been blessed in the past twenty years with exchange of visits at the highest level, beginning with former President Mitterrand leading the way as first guest of former President Mandela in post-Apartheid South Africa.

President Hollande was guest of President Zuma in 2013 where several agreements were signed and the two countries are now implementing these for the mutual benefit of our peoples. President Zuma is expected to visit France later this year on a reciprocal visit as a further sign of the good and ever growing relations between our countries.

It is expected that more agreements will be signed to further enhance our relation and to take stock of how far the already existing signed agreements have been implemented, especially in the priority areas of the Economy to correct the imbalance and trade deficit that South Africa suffers.

The recent attacks on foreign nationals in South Africa are a threat to our historical achievements as a nation. Moreover, the attacks go against the democratic values enshrined in our Constitution.

The South African Government condemns violent attacks on foreign nationals in the strongest terms. These attacks are unacceptable in our society and will not be tolerated. The government is doing its best to ensure that the perpetrators of these criminal acts are brought to book.

President Jacob Zuma addressed a special session of the National Assembly on Thursday, the 16th of April 2015 and also paid a visit to several affected areas. In his message, President Zuma condemned the violence and further said that [quote] “the attacks violate all the values that South Africa embodies, especially the respect for human life, human rights, human dignity and Ubuntu. Our country stands firmly against all intolerances such as racism, xenophobia, homophobia and sexism” [unquote].

We bow our heads in shame and apologize to the International community especially our neighbors and African brothers and sisters as we convey our condolence to the families of the deceased. We pledge to work together with all to find lasting solution to this challenge.

Since rejoining Unesco in 1994 our country has being playing a meaningful role in all the structures and programmes of the organization.We value the importance and strategic role that Unesco plays in the overall development of its members. Unesco touches every key area of the society and its development.We will continue to support and participate in all its programmes and wish it well in its 70th annivessary. We will be fielding a candidate for the position in the Executive board in the general conference this year and hope for your support.

Once again ladies and gentlemen thank you for making time to celebrate our 21st birthday as a free country most appreciated .

 

Photos from the event can be seen here : Photo Gallery