The following remarks were made by Herman Mashaba, President of ActionSA, at a Freedom Day event in at Walter Sisulu Square, Kliptown, Soweto.
27 April 1994 will forever remain one of the most important dates in our country’s history. It marked the dawn of our democratic future. One where all South Africans would be equal citizens in the country of our birth.
I remember that day with very fondly. A day I never thought I would ever see in my lifetime. The dawn of our democracy signalled a new hope for the people of our country. A new and fresh start for all of us united in our diversity to realise our potentials and thrive.
Black, Coloured, and Indian South Africans would no longer have to live like second-class citizens in our own communities, running from the apartheid state that sought to nullify our humanity.
We saw the birth of the Rainbow Nation, as Nelson Mandela emerged from prison to lead us to our first democratic elections.
People everywhere joined in on our celebrations, with epic images of endless lines of black, coloured and Indian South Africans joining our fellow white South Africans to cast our vote for the very first time on that historic morning of the 27th of April 1994.
Sadly, the dream we had for an inclusive, prosperous South Arica has not been realised. Today, much of what we had hoped for and the promise of democracy has been largely unfulfilled.
The promise that most previously disadvantaged people would have fair opportunities to effectively participate in the economy and move from largely unskilled to skilled labour and cut their teeth in high commerce and industry have been broken.
Where access to quality education would become the norm instead of the exception. Where apartheid spatial planning would be reversed, and people could afford decent accommodation and homes close to where they work. The promise of dedicated development of poor communities where our women and children would feel safer and protected.
Our dreams have been shattered by selfish, criminal, and corrupt politicians who have used their power to enrich themselves instead of benefitting the people they were elected to serve.
Our broken political system has left many South Africans feeling less optimistic about the future and even more vulnerable than they did before the end of apartheid.
The failure of our political system has left millions of South Africans feeling that their vote does not matter. Instead of the long lines of voters we saw in 1994, in the 2019 elections 18.3 million South Africans did not vote – more than the 17.6 million that did.
This needs to change. We, the good, hard-working, law-abiding, family-oriented, and freedom-loving people of our beloved country, need to reclaim on political power and Act as One to place our country on a path to prosperity once again.
ActionSA was launched to change the direction of South Africa by providing a credible alternative to the broken political system that has failed South Africans for many years. Our focus is on Action that moves South Africa forward from an era of broken promises, corruption, and failed government.
Earlier this month, ActionSA launched a ground-breaking Candidate Election Process, based on a system of direct democracy. The system, which is currently open for registrations and will be used to elect our candidates for Ward Councillors and Mayors ahead of the Local Government Elections scheduled for the 27th of October this year.
In doing so, ActionSA aims to take political power away from political parties and put in firmly back in the hands of residents where it belongs.
And so, as we commemorate Freedom Day today, ActionSA is celebrating the launch of this new system which is also a celebration of our people’s inalienable right to a better and more prosperous future. One that we all hoped for when we ended the evil system that was apartheid.
So, register in your numbers and make your vote count both in your community and at the polls during this year’s Local Government Elections.
Happy Freedom Day, South Africa!