To Unlock True Freedom South Africa Needs a Values-Based Government

The following remarks were delivered by Herman Mashaba, President of ActionSA, at a Freedom Day Rally held at Giant Stadium in Soshanguve, Tshwane. Mashaba was joined by Lerato M-Ngobeni, ActionSA National Spokesperson; Funzi Ngobeni, ActionSA Gauteng Provincial Chairperson; Zwakele Mncwango and Sello Lediga, ActionSA KZN and Limpopo Provincial Chairpersons, as well as other national and provincial leaders.


Goeie Môre,





Good morning, South Africa.

This morning we commemorate the 29th anniversary of our first democratic election.

We call this day Freedom Day, because 1994 ushered in a new era for South Africa filled with the promise of freedom.

The freedom to choose our government, the freedom to live where we like, and the freedom to marry who we please, among many others. On paper, the Constitution we adopted in 1996 makes us one of the freest nations in the world.

But, for many South Africans, the most important freedom of all – the tfreedom of choice – remains a dream.

True freedom is the freedom to choose the path our lives will take, unconstrained by the arbitrary characteristics of our birth. This is the freedom to succeed regardless of race, gender, age, sexual orientation, or disability.

The promise of true freedom has been broken by an unethical and uncaring government that has spent much of the last 29 years focusing on personal gain over public service.

This is a government that is not guided by the democratic values on which our Constitution is based, nor the pursuit of social justice and fundamental human rights.

It is not guided by the values of patriotism, community and ubuntu that I know we share as a South African nation.

My fellow South Africans,

I remember 1994 like it was yesterday. I was a young man with big dreams, and believed that the freedom to choose our government would be the dawn of a new South Africa, defined by shared prosperity and equality for all.

Reflecting on our progress over the past 29 years is bittersweet. There is no doubt we have made progress as a nation. Our Constitution enshrines the equality of all South Africans and protects our most important freedoms.

Today, I have the freedom to travel my beautiful country and congregate with my fellow citizens regardless of our race.

We take this for granted, but when I started my business with a white partner during the darkest days of Apartheid, it was illegal for us to work together the way we did. I would need to carry a Pass Book as a travelling black salesman, and would be regularly stopped by the police demanding to know what I was doing in a ‘white area.’

1994 freed us from the injustice of Apartheid and delivered us from racial oppression. But, it did not deliver on the promise to improve the quality of life of all citizens and free the potential of each person.

I say again: true freedom is the freedom to choose our path in life.

Let me ask you this: What is freedom, when children have no choice but to attend school on an empty stomach, and without the dignity of a working toilet?

What is freedom, when the only choice available is to rely on a dysfunctional public healthcare system that is vastly under-resourced?

What is freedom, when South Africans have no choice but to rely on meagre social grants for their very survival, because there simply are no jobs.

My fellow South Africans,

To fix South Africa, we need to change this.

To fix South Africa, we need to ensure that every South African has the opportunity to pursue their dreams and make them a reality.

But, as long as our country his held captive by a government that does not value true freedom, this will not change.

The road to true freedom must begin by removing the government that has forsaken the values on which our nation was founded, and replace them with a government that will be guided by these values once more.

In February this year, ActionSA launched our South African Dream. This is a dream for an inclusive and prosperous future for all South Africans, inspired by the seven values on which our party is based.

These seven values were not selected at random, but informed by the views of millions of South Africans who share our dream for our beloved country.

These values are not only the guiding light of our party, but the foundation on which we are developing the solutions needed to fix South Africa and deliver true freedom to our nation. Allow me to share these values with you –

ActionSA stands with the majority of South Africans for a non-racial future.

As we commemorate Freedom Day today, we must acknowledge that while we have made progress since the dark days of Apartheid, a correlation remains between race and an individual’s opportunity for upward social mobility.

We cannot yet claim to live in a non-racial South Africa. To do so is to turn a blind eye to prejudice and the inequality that continues to manifest largely along racial lines.

Racism diminishes the equality and worth of a person and sets back progress in our country. It has no place in ActionSA, and it has no place in our country.

Our dream for South Africa is to realise a future where individuals will be judged solely on the content of their character. To achieve this dream ActionSA believes in levelling the playing field and building a more just society by ensuring equality of opportunity, not equality of outcome.

As long as a black child is more likely to be born into poverty than a child of another colour, we cannot call ourselves free.

But, fixing this means expanding the choices and opportunities available to black children, an indeed all children; not limiting the freedoms, choices and opportunities of others.

ActionSA stands for social justice.

ActionSA’s dream for South Africa is a society where everyone lives in dignity, with access to quality services.

How can we speak of freedom when millions of our fellow South Africans have to live in squalor in informal settlements across our country, with many living in rural areas not having access to quality healthcare and education?

We cannot accept that our fellow citizens are subjected to the indignity that comes with not having access to basic services like water and sanitation. Similarly, we cannot accept the marginalisation of individuals on the basis of gender, sexuality, disability or any other characteristic of their birth.

ActionSA is unapologetic about fighting all forms of discrimination and the pursuit of pro-poor policies that will ensure progressive realisation of a socially just society.

But, being pro-poor does not mean being anti-wealth. Ultimately, we believe that the best way out of poverty and inequality is to ignite inclusive economic growth.

To build a more just society we need to create more wealth for all South Africans, not just increase the tax burden on higher income earners.

We must build a future where all South Africans are genuine counterparts in a dynamic and vibrant economy, and where prosperity is shared by all.

ActionSA believes in the transformative power of education to achieve a more just society.

Despite the fact that our education spending one of the highest in the world in relation to total budget, our education system is ranked as one of the worst in the world, particularly in the critical subjects of maths and science.

How can we speak of freedom and equality when our fellow citizens are confined to a life of unemployment without the education and skills required to compete in the labour market and the opportunity for upward social mobility?

Quality education is the key to true freedom. Without it, we are condemning future generations to continue the cycle of a life without equal opportunity for upward mobility.

To overcome this, ActionSA will launch an education revolution in South Africa, with a new curriculum that raises a nation of employers and not just employees.

We will focus on investing in Early Childhood Development Centres to prepare and equip every child in South Africa at an early start in education. We will put a particular emphasis on the ability to read for meaning.

Small business development and the skills of future jobs will become a focus in our schools, along with efforts to teach young men about respecting and protecting the women of our country.

And we will invest heavily in universities, FET, nursing and teachers’ colleges as well as vocational schools so that every young South African has access to a set of skills that they can put to use in improving their lives and contribute to the prosperity of our nation.

ActionSA stands for a future where economic prosperity is shared by all South Africans.

As many of you know, I grew up in the rural village of Garamotse, Hammanskraal in the north of Pretoria. We did not have money when I was growing up, but we survived.

I personally know the power of economic freedom. I started my business when I was 22 years old, and have enjoyed the freedom that arose from my hard work.

I can say without fear of contradiction that economic freedom is the most important freedom of all.

ActionSA’s dream for South Africa is a nation where my success is not the exception or an outlier. Our society must be defined by shared prosperity and abundant success, not deprivation and despair.

ActionSA will reignite the sprit of entrepreneurship in South Africa and unlock our economic potential through the clear, decisive and uncompromising implementation of sound policies that will deliver the promise of a prosperous and shared future.

We will reform the labour laws of our country and end the stranglehold that trade unions have over our government. Trade unions are a key stakeholder, but they will not have a veto right over our economic destiny.

We must make it easier for businesses to hire more of our citizens because we cannot protect what will soon be a minority of employed people at the expense of the majority of unemployed people.

We will remove every barrier in the way of small businesses and we will actively support them. We will not treat the private sector as adversaries, but as partners in the work of employing every, single South African who wants to work.

To unlock economic prosperity, ActionSA stands resolutely for the Rule of Law.

Our country has degenerated into a society where law abiding citizens live in fear while the corrupt and the violent fear nothing.

How can we call ourselves free, when we live in constant fear even within our own homes?

We must change this. True freedom means freedom from fear.

To build a safe and secure society, our police force needs to be restructured to become a modern crime fighting machine. We need more police officers and law-enforcement officials.

We need to resource our detective units and modernise our investigative capacity. We have to remove the political interference that cripples our police.

Our court system needs to be resourced and expanded so that the pace of justice is sped up. And we need to review of criminal justice code to increase the penalties for heinous crimes like rape and murder that ravage our society.

We need specialised units to tackle priority crimes in South Africa, including the re-establishment of The Scorpions. These specialised units must follow a prosecutorial style of investigation and must be supported by similarly specialised units in the NPA and our court system.

ActionSA stands for ethical leadership and a professional public service.

Despite the challenges we face, South Africa remains a strong and resilient nation filled with promise and potential.

But, we are being held back by greed and corruption, and the looting of state resources meant for basic services and social development?

How can we speak of freedom and equality when 26 million South Africans depend on meagre social grants to survive, while a corrupt political elite live a life of luxury?

Delivering true freedom to the people of South Africa requires that our government is led by ethical leaders who preside over a professional public service.

ActionSA believes in holding the public representatives of our party to the highest ethical standards and ensure that we declare corruption as Public Enemy Number 1. This is not negotiable.

We will professionalise the public sector to ensure that we build a capable and efficient state that serves the interests of the South African people, and not career politicians and deployed cadres.

Public sector appointments should be based on merit, competence and a commitment to ethical service to the people.

Finally, ActionSA stands for political accountability.

One of the greatest challenges facing South Africa is the ability of elected public office bearers to escape accountability for their actions because they are protected by self-serving parties that put political expediency over public service.

We saw how President Zuma was shielded from accountability for his actions at Nkandla by the ANC in Parliament, and recently we have seen history repeat itself when President Ramaphosa was allowed to evade parliamentary scrutiny over the Phala Phala saga.

We are currently witnessing how the ANC’s internal battles for power takes precedence over resolving our energy crisis, without the tools to hold the executive to account for destroying our economy for personal gain.

Our Constitution says that all South Africans are equal, but some are clearly more equal than others. This is not the meaning of freedom.

ActionSA will drive an agenda that supports reforms to ensure that South Africa’s public representatives and political leaders are accountable to those which they have a responsibility to serve.

Our public representatives must serve you the people.

My fellow South Africans,

Next year we will commemorate three decades of democracy in South Africa.

But, democracy is not the same as freedom.

We cannot claim to celebrate freedom as long as some South Africans have vastly more choices – more freedoms – than their fellow citizens.

ActionSA’s dream for South Africa is for a country where all citizens are truly free.

Next year, let us take a step toward true freedom.

Let us remove the government that has departed from the values on which our nation was founded, and held us back from enjoying the freedoms our Constitution enshrines.

Let us use this opportunity to elect a values-based government that is committed to ensuring that every South African has the opportunity to choose the life they want to live, and empower them to pursue that choice.

Freedom does not have to be an unrealised dream for which we once fought.

It can be a reality shared by all South Africans.

Project 2024 is unstoppable! We will win in 2024 and we will fix South Africa!