Human Rights Day 27 Years on there is Still Hope

The following remarks were delivered by ActionSA President, Herman Mashaba, during a visit to the Sharpeville Memorial in commemoration of Human Rights Day. Mashaba was accompanied by National Director of Operations, Funzi Ngobeni; Gauteng Provincial Chairperson, John Moodey; ActionSA Interim Senate Member, Chief David Tembe and ActionSA Emfuleni Leadership Team.

Today we celebrate the affirmation of Human Rights 27 years ago under a democratic South Africa, by remembering the tragedy that took place here in Sharpeville 61 years ago.

There is no question that either those who gave their lives in Sharpeville or those who imagined where South Africa could be today, would be greatly disappointed.

For too many South Africans, Human Rights is an academic term in our Constitution – something they know exists on paper.

Talk about human rights to the former miners and families at Lily Mine in Mpumalanga who have tried for 5 years to get their government to care about the remains of their loved ones trapped in that container.

Talk about the right to education to the students of our country who study hungry, without decent accommodation and unable to pay their fees because our government lied to them.

Talk about the right to safety to the families of Uyinene Mrwetyana or Tshegofatso Pule about the human rights of their daughters who are among the many victims of gender-based violence in South Africa.

Talk to the people of Hammanskraal about their right to drinking water that is not polluted by a municipality that has not done a thing under 3 different mayors and a provincial administrator.

Talk about the right to dignity for the business owners and workers facing the crushing weight of load-shedding and now water shedding in Johannesburg as this economic hub of our country cannot even provide water any longer.

Most South Africans will tell you that the covenant of human rights, forged in stone on 21 March 1995, has been broken over the past 27 years.

In many ways all of this is known to South Africans and will be said 1000 times today.

I am not here to tell you what you already know, there is too much stating of the obvious in South African politics.

I am here to tell you that we can get South Africa working and that we can give Human Rights meaning beyond mere words on paper.

The very first thing that we must do as a nation, that we must do together to make this possible, is that we have to remove the ANC from national government in 2024. The ANC is a liberation movement that will stand here today and celebrate their historic role in our democracy with human rights, while they promise free education and then shoot live ammunition at the protests of students asking for this promise to be delivered.

When we have unseated the ANC, the problem holding our country back, we can start to give Human Rights the meaning that was intended in our Constitution.

But this starts with a local government election this year which must see the removal of failing governments from municipalities across our country.

Having served as the Mayor of Johannesburg I have seen how local government is the best place to provide South Africans with tangible and real human rights. This is what ActionSA wants to do in the municipalities it will contest in this year’s local government election.

We can provide dignity to the families of our country by ensuring that parents go to work and are able to provide better lives for their children than they received themselves.

We can provide the dignity of services to those who live in informal settlements without access to electricity, water or sanitation.

We can provide healthcare after hours and over weekends to sick people who need live saving treatments for illnesses that do not stick to office hours.

We can provide safety through rapidly expanding, modernising, and resourcing metro police departments to do what the SAPS is clearly unable to do – protect law-abiding citizens.

We can improve educational performance through investing in early childhood development, giving our young learns the edge they need to deal with the challenges of their later years of schooling.

We can meet our responsibilities to provide a right to shelter by investing in housing initiatives that are more imaginative and ambitious than the pedestrian rollout of RDP houses. Inner city projects, site and service initiatives and many other options can make real impacts into housing lists.

We can establish anti-corruption units that make residents confident that their hard-earned monies paid to their towns and cities are being used for good and not for the enrichment of politicians.

We can do many great things in local government from this year’s elections. These are not academic or theoretical concepts of human rights – they are the kind of interventions that give human rights meaning.

Therefore, ActionSA is reaching out to South Africans of all races, ages, genders, creeds, and orientations to build a new majority in South Africa.

Across South Africa we are bringing South Africans together with our rallying call to Act As One for Human Rights and against a government that violates the very rights that it professes to have created.

There is something important that must ring out from every corner of South Africa today, something we must begin to understand as a nation. The ANC did not create human rights, the people of South Africa created those rights, and it is the people of South Africa who will give them meaning when they send the ANC to the opposition benches.

South Africans are more ready now than they have ever been before for a new alternative that will give them reason to believe once again. ActionSA is going to be that alternative for all South Africans who love their country, hate what has been done to it and know that we can fix it.