Happy Free­dom Month!

Public Sector Manager - - Message From The Acting Director-general -

Free­dom Day marks ar­guably the most im­por­tant date in the his­tory of South Africa – the day our first demo­cratic elec­tions were held af­ter a cen­turies-long his­tory of op­pres­sion un­der colo­nial­ism and apartheid. On Wed­nes­day, 27 April 1994, mil­lions of joy­ful South Africans were for the first time in their lives given a voice; a chance to de­cide which po­lit­i­cal party they wanted to run their coun­try.

While Free­dom Day and Free­dom Month are cel­e­brated around this mile­stone, this should be much more than just a time of re­mem­brance. Free­dom can­not be seen solely as eman­ci­pa­tion from an op­pres­sive gov­ern­ment – it should mean free­dom from the lin­ger­ing legacy of poverty, un­em­ploy­ment, in­equal­ity, racism, sex­ism and vi­o­lence.The val­ues and ideals of free­dom are in­te­grated into the supreme law of our coun­try – the Con­sti­tu­tion – and in the in­cor­po­rated Bill of Rights, which pro­mote the ad­vance­ment of eco­nomic jus­tice and so­cial equal­ity.

Free­dom Month there­fore af­fords all South Africans the op­por­tu­nity to recog­nise and pledge to fight to pro­tect these ideals. It is im­por­tant that, in ad­di­tion to the ef­forts be­ing made by gov­ern­ment, we build an ac­tive cit­i­zenry that will do what­ever is within its power to achieve this aim.

This year Free­dom Month is par­tic­u­larly sig­nif­i­cant be­cause in 2018 we also mark the cen­te­nary of for­mer Pres­i­dent Nel­son Man­dela. On 18 July, Man­dela would have turned 100 years old. As the man who stood at the fore­front of cre­at­ing our demo­cratic coun­try, Man­dela was the em­body­ing sym­bol of free­dom in South Africa, and we should all seek to – in our own small ways – em­u­late his undy­ing com­mit­ment to the cause. We urge all South Africans to join one of the cel­e­bra­tions tak­ing place at lo­cal, pro­vin­cial and na­tional gov­ern­ment lev­els.

The ideals of Free­dom Month are in­ti­mately linked to the ideals laid out in the Free­dom Char­ter – our coun­try's most sig­nif­i­cant dec­la­ra­tion on free­dom.The doc­u­ment was com­piled in 1955 by the ANC, af­ter 50 000 vol­un­teers were dis­patched into town­ships to col­lect free­dom de­mands from the peo­ple op­pressed by apartheid gov­ern­ment rule. Many of the de­mands made in the Char­ter are now en­shrined in our Con­sti­tu­tion, in­clud­ing nearly all de­mands for equal­ity of race and lan­guage.

Al­though the char­ter was orig­i­nally de­signed as a dec­la­ra­tion against apartheid, its over­rid­ing mes­sage of free­dom, in­clud­ing calls for equal­ity, em­ploy­ment, ed­u­ca­tion and land ref­or­ma­tion, are still ev­i­dent in many of the plans that na­tional gov­ern­ment is work­ing to achieve to­day.

So, as the Free­dom Char­ter states, let us as South Africans pledge to “strive to­gether, spar­ing nei­ther strength nor courage” to con­tinue pro­tect­ing our free­dom.

Phumla Wil­liams, GCIS Act­ing Di­rec­tor-Gen­eral.

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