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Mbekweni, Paarl, Western Cape
21 March 2013

Theme: “UNITED IN ADVANCING SOCIO-ECONOMIC FREEDOM FOR ALL”

The Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development,
The Minister of Arts and Culture,
All Ministers and Deputy Ministers present,
Chairperson of the SA Human Rights Commission,
MECs,
His Worship the Mayor of Paarl,
Members of the Diplomatic Corps;
Leaders of Political Parties;
Veterans of the liberation struggle,
Fellow South Africans,

Dumelang, sanibonani, molweni!

Siyajabula kakhulu ukuba la, eMbekweni, ePaarl namhlanje, sizogubha lolusuku lwamalungelo abantu.

Namhlanje sikhumbula onke amaqhawe asala ezinkundleni, ezihlandleni eziningi ngesikhathi sizabalazela inkululeko.

Sikhumbula ikakhulukazi labo abasishiya eSharpeville, kwaLanga eKapa, kwaNobuhle eUitenhage nakwezinye izindawo.

Compatriots and friends,

Our national days are a vehicle to foster social cohesion, nation building, national identity and socio-economic development.

Marking national days also enables us to reflect on our unfortunate past as a people that lived through a brutal system of apartheid colonialism. We reflect and draw lessons to build a better and united future.

On Human Rights Day in particular, we also remember the country’s rich human rights tradition.

The 1923 Bill of Rights, the African Claims of 1943, the Women’s Charter in 1954, the Freedom Charter in 1955 and the ANC’s 1988 Constitutional Principles for a Democratic South Africa are our national pride.

These documents, developed by the ruling party the ANC during the struggle for liberation, underline and confirm South Africa’s longstanding systematic development of policy affirming human rights. They informed the content of the Constitution of the Republic at the dawn of freedom.

We are particularly proud of the fact that the landmark 1943 Bill of Rights was produced five years ahead of the 1948 United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights. South Africa led the world in this regard!

Today is also the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, proclaimed in 1966 in memory of the Sharpeville massacre, by the United Nations through UN resolution 2142.

Compatriots,

Let me also underline that this democratic government also affirms the rights of persons with disabilities.

Thus today we also mark the World Down Syndrome Day, as declared by the United Nations organisation in 2011.

Fellow South Africans,

We mark Human Rights Day 2013 under the theme; “United in advancing socio-economic freedom for all”.   The purpose is to promote the idea of socio-economic freedom for all South Africans.

It also highlights the advanced nature of our Constitution which recognises more than just political and civil rights.

This was based on the understanding that civil and political rights mean little if they are not accompanied by tangible socio-economic rights. These include the rights to housing, education and health care and the right to favourable working conditions.

While marking the importance of socio-economic rights today, we also highlight the fact that today has a particular significance, as it is a day on which in 1960 the apartheid police shot and killed 69 people and wounded many others in Sharpeville. The liberation movement resolved then, to build a South Africa in which such incidents would never occur when freedom dawned.

This is also the commitment of the democratic government.

Today we re-affirm our determination to build a police service that respects the rights of all. The South African Police this year marks a centenary of its existence. The period since its establishment in 1913 until 1994, is marked by state-sanctioned cruelty and brutality by the policy.

In 1994 the democratic government began to transform the police service into one that is people-centred and which serves all the people of our country. A lot of progress has been made with regards to both transformation and service delivery.

Today we are happy that each year statistics indicate a reduction in serious crimes.

Crimes against women and children remain a serious problem but statistics prove that the perpetrators are being caught and punished. We trust that this will act as a deterrent. For example, in the past financial year, police secured over 363 life sentences, with a conviction rate of over 70% for crimes against women and girls.

At the same time, there have been some regrettable, shocking and unacceptable incidents involving the South African Police Service since the last Human Rights Day commemoration.

These include the Marikana tragedy and other cases of police brutality against suspects. Government has taken action on both.

There is a commission probing the Marikana incident and we will not comment much on it at this stage until the findings. The law is taking its course with regards to the other incidents.

However, these incidents should not make us condemn our entire police service which comprises 200 000 men and women as being brutal.

The overwhelming majority of our police fight crime within the confines and discipline of the Constitution and we applaud them for that.

We urge you today, to continue supporting the police in their work. The police can only continue succeeding in fighting crime if they have the support of communities they serve.

We must support them as well in their efforts to root out rotten apples from their ranks who engage in criminal action including corruption.

To promote a human rights ethos amongst police officials, we have directed that the SAPS Code of Conduct, in which an ethos of human rights is firmly entrenched, be promoted amongst all police officials.

They must live, breathe and personify the police Code of Conduct.

Included in this pledge of excellence, signed by each police official upon attestation, is the promise to do the following:

“to uphold and protect the fundamental rights of every person; act in a manner that is impartial, courteous, honest, respectful, transparent and accountable; exercise the powers conferred in a responsible and controlled manner;

“And work towards preventing any form of corruption and to bring the perpetrators thereof to justice”.

We expect our men and women in blue to live up to that promise.

Bakwethu siyagcizelela ukuthi kufanele sibambisane namaphoyisa emkhankasweni wawo wokuhlonipha amalungelo abantu.

Uma amanye awo enza amaphutha akusho ukuthi asilahle wonke amaphoyisa aseMzansi Africa ngenxa yalokho.

Alikho izwe elingenawo amaphoyisa. Alikho futhi elingasimama uma abantu bomthetho bengahlonishwa.

Masibambisane namaphoyisa sakhe imiphakathi ephephile.

Uma kukhona amaphoyisa enza ubugebengu noma udlame ebantwini, sicela umphakathi ubikele abenhlangano i-Independent Police Investigating Directorate ukuze kuphenywe bajeziswe abaphula umthetho.

Compatriots,

As said earlier, we are striving to promote socio-economic rights.

We are building a country where communities have a road, schools, clinics, recreation facilities, community halls, electricity, water and sanitation.  The state is called upon to ensure that citizens enjoy these rights, subject to resources being available.

We needed to include socio-economic rights in the Constitution because successive apartheid governments deliberately deprived black people of all the basic amenities that ensure a decent standard of living.

We know that many sections of society and individuals become agitated when we refer to the apartheid legacy in our country.

This is a fact and the legacy cannot be reversed overnight. We will continue doing our best in spite of the challenges that we face.  We will not rest until every household has water, electricity, sanitation and other services.

Access to these services is expanded each year.

Impela sesenze okuningi kusukela ngonyaka ka 1994 ngenjongo yokuguqula isimo esashiywa ubandlululo, siphucule izimpilo zabantu.  Singabala nje ukuthi isisondele ku200 000 imizi eyafakwa ugesi ngonyaka odlule.

Uhlelo lokubalwa kwabantu i-Census 2011 yaveza ukuthi sebephelele bonke, bangu 12.1 million manje abantu asebenogesi. Nemizi esithole amanzi seyandile.  Nezindlu ziyakhiwa ezindaweni eziningi.

Kuningi impela nokwenziwayo ukuthuthukisa izinga lemfundo ngoba iyisisekelo sentuthuko. Ukwakhiwa kwezikole, kuqedwa ezinodaka nakho kuyaqhubeka.

Uhulumeni futhi umatasa wakha amanyuvesi amabili e-Northern Cape naseMpumalanga ukuze kwande izindawo zokuqeqesha.

Kuyajabulisa futhi ukuthi izingane ezifundanyo ezingaphansi kweminyaka engu 15 seziku- 96%, okukhombisa ukuthi siyaphumelela ukwenza imfundo ibe ngephoqelelwe.

Uhulumeni usiza izingane ezingu 8 million ukuze zifunde mahhala, eziphuma emakhaya akhungethe ubumpofu.

Kanti futhi izingane ezingu 8 million zithola ukudla mahhala ezikoleni ukuze zifunde kahle.

Uhulumeni uyajabula kakhulu futhi ukuthi inani lezingane ezifunda ezinkulisa liyenyuka kakhulu. Zazisondele ku-300 000 ngo-2003 manje inani selisondele ku-800 000.

Uhulumeni uyaqhubeka nokusiza intsha esemanyuvesi nasemakolishi ukuthola imifundaze nokwebolekwa imali.

Sicela sibambisane nabazali nemiphakathi ukwenza zonke izikole zisebenze ngendlela zikhiqize imiphumela emihle. Sifuna kuthuthuke izinga lezingane ezifunda ziphase izibalo nesayensi.

Sifuna othisha bafike ngesikhathi esikoleni, nokuthi nabazali badlale indima yabo bayise izingane esikoleni ngesikhathi, zihloniphe othisha, zifunde.

Sicela sibambisane kulomcimbi ngoba imfundo ibaluleke kakhulu ezweni lakithi yiyo ezogcwalisa inkululeko.

The constitution also counts social security amongst the socio-economic rights. We have expanded the social assistance programme or social grants from covering just 2,7 million people in 1994 to over 16 million people to date. About 2,9 million recipients are older people, while 11,5 million receive the Child Support Grant. Social grants are government’s most effective poverty alleviation programme.

Research conducted by the Department of Social Development indicates that the grants continue to have a positive impact in the lives of many families.

Compatriots

There is recognition by the world that we are trying our best. In May last year, South Africa was invited to present its Second Universal Periodic Report (UPR) to the Human Rights Council of the United Nations.

Countries are expected to present a country report every four years to the Human Rights Council, to declare what actions they have taken to improve the human rights situations in their countries and to fulfill their human rights obligations.

Other states commended South Africa for its commitment to human rights and to improving the lives of its citizens. We were also acknowledged for the delivery of basic services such as housing, health and education as well as South Africa's leading role in the UN Human Rights Commission.

Like many countries in the world, our country faces a serious challenge of youth unemployment. Collaboration between the parties represented at NEDLAC, namely government, labour and the community sector - is critical in order to promote youth development and youth employment.

We are pleased that the NEDLAC parties have agreed to work together to expand opportunities for the employment and empowerment of youth. The youth employment accord will be signed in mid-April in Gauteng.

As part of putting some aspects of the youth accord into action, the Minister of Finance announced a tax incentive aimed at encouraging firms to employ young work seekers. This will be tabled for consideration by Parliament.

Compatriots, let me urge the entire nation to work with the government and the social partners to rebuild our country and in particular to build the economy.

We should all play our role to make our country attractive to both local and international investors so that the economy can grow and create jobs.

We therefore emphasise the point that people must stop talking the economy and the country down.

We need to take a more balanced view of our country and be ready to highlight and acknowledge the achievements of our democracy when making assessments.

Kufanele sonke sibambisane nohulumeni, nosomabhizinisi, nezinyunyana nezinhlangano zomphakathi ukuheha osozimali ukuze beze bazotshala izimali ezweni lethu kwakheke amathuba emisebenzi.

Ngakho-le, ngalolusuku lokukhumbula amalungelo abantu, esigxile kakhulu ngalo kumalungelo omnotho namhlanje, sithi masisebenzeni sonke, sakhe iNingizimu Afrika engcono, nekusasa elihle.

Masibambisaneni ukuze amalungelo abantu ahlonishwe ngezikhathi zonke ezweni lakithi.

Siyawunxusa umphakathi futhi ukuthi uhloniphe namalungelo abantu bakwamanye amazwe abahlala ezweni lethu.

The respect for human rights extends to the rights of all people in the world. Therefore, we condemn strongly any acts of xenophobia or any attacks or resentment directed at foreign nationals living in our country.

Compatriots,

On this human rights day, let us continue promoting the respect for the rights of others. As government we will also continue to promote respect for the rights of all citizens.

Our Constitution provides for a number of institutions that protect democracy and human rights. These include the South African Human Rights Commission, the Commission on Gender Equality, the Office of the Public Protector and the Commission for the Rights of linguistic, traditional and cultural communities.

In addition to these institutions, our democracy provides for the existence of many non-governmental organisations which promotes the rights of women, children, the youth, the rights to education, health and other socio-economic rights.

This indicates a healthy democracy where people are able to express themselves and also promote the enjoyment of their rights.

We wish all South Africans a meaningful Human Rights Day as we celebrate how far we have come and what we have achieved under difficult conditions of transition from apartheid to freedom and democracy.

May God protect our people.
Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika.
Morena boloka setjhaba sa heso.
God bless South Africa.
Hosi katekisa Afrika.

I thank You!