Address by President Jacob Zuma on the occasion of the 23rd celebration of Freedom Day uMhlabuyalingana, KwaZulu-Natal

President Jacob Zuma

27 April 2017

Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, 

Acting Premier, Mr Sihle Zikalala Ministers, Deputy Ministers, MECs,

Members of Parliament and Provincial Legislature,

Executive Mayors and councillors,

Inkosi Mabhudu Tembe,

Members of the Provincial House of Traditional Leaders,

Umphakathi waseMkhanyakude namaphethelo,


Fellow South Africans,

We greet you all on this 23rd anniversary of the dawn of freedom and democracy in our country. 

However, we start on a sad note. A few days ago during the Easter weekend, we lost more than two hundred people to road crashes, including 19 school children in Bronkhortspruit, Gauteng and sixteen people in Kranskop here in KZN.

 Their deaths have caused enormous pain and we must all play our role to end this carnage on our roads.   

I request that we rise and give a moment of silence for all those who have lost their lives so tragically.  


It has been a long road since that watershed general election in 1994 that marked the collapse of racist white rule.  The defeat of apartheid colonialism by the South African people was one of the greatest achievements of humankind.  

We turned our backs on a system of governance that had been declared a crime against humanity, and which had dehumanised black people and turned them into pariahs in the land of their birth.  

One of the best descriptions of life under racist minority rule is contained in an article published on 25 July 1953 by ANC leader RV Selope Thema.

He wrote; “In those days the black man was treated as a beast of burden. He was knocked and kicked about with impunity.  

“In the magistrate`s courts, his voice was hardly heard and his evidence hardly believed. He was stopped at street corners by policemen demanding the production of his pass and his tax receipt.

“He was not allowed to walk on the pavements and had to dodge motor cars in the streets. He was not allowed to travel first, second or third class on the trains.  

“He travelled in trucks almost similar to those used for cattle and horses. … Politically he had no voice in the making and administration of the laws. Economically he was kept in a state of abject poverty’’.

These are the conditions that urged our leaders such Oliver Reginald Tambo to sacrifice life’s comforts to fight for the liberation of our country and the people.

Mr Oliver Tambo would have turned one hundred years this year had he lived.  

We have dedicated this 23rd Freedom Day to him, under the theme: The Year of Oliver Reginald Tambo, Together Deepening Democracy and Building Safer and Crime-Free communities.

We pay tribute to Mr OR Tambo and all ordinary men and women of our country who contributed in various ways to the attainment of freedom, and helped move our country forward towards a free and democratic South Africa.  

In 23 years we have achieved a lot. We have built a democratic state founded on human rights and the rule of law.  

We have established three functional arms of the state, the executive, legislature and the judiciary which work to enable South Africans to enjoy their rights which are enshrined in the Constitution, based on their respective mandates.   

We have chapter 9 institutions whose job is also to protect and promote the rights of our people. These include rights to religious freedom or gender equality to the promotion of clean governance and freedom from maladministration and corruption. 

For millions of our people, freedom has meant access to services that they were denied before, such as water, sanitation, housing, electricity, roads, health care or education. 


Namhlanje uma sigubha usuku lwenkululeko, sikhumbula indima esesiyihambile, nezinguquko ezilethwe uhulumeni wentando yeningi.

Inkululeko ilethe impilo engcono ezindaweni eziningi. Amanzi, ugesi, imigwaqo nezinsiza eziningi zilethiwe kubantu.    

Inkululeko ilethe nemfundo engcono ezinganeni, kanye nezikole okufundwa mahhala kuzo ukusiza abazali abantulayo.  

Izingane zithola ukudla ezikoleni ukuze zifunde kahle zingalambile. Eziningi izingane zifunda ezinkulisa ezixhaswe uhulumeni.


Konke lokhu kukhombisa khona ukuthi ngempela iNingizimu Afrika isingcono kakhulu manje kunaseminyakeni yengcindezelo.  ( to be continued )