It is up to each citizen to play their part in making South Africa better, President Cyril Ramaphosa said as he reflected on how far the nation has come since 1994 on Freedom Day.

“On this Freedom Day, as we celebrate this great human achievement, we must reflect on how far we have traveled over the last quarter century.

“We must reflect on the progress we have made in setting right the wrongs of the past, in bringing development to communities where there was once only neglect, in restoring human dignity where there was once only contempt,” he told voters at his address during Freedom Day celebrations in Makhanda, Eastern Cape on Saturday.

Ramaphosa reminisced on his vivid memory of when he was first afforded the right to vote in South Africa’s first ever democratic elections.

“I remember voting at Kloof Gold mine in Westonaria among the mine workers who built the country’s wealth, but had never before been accorded the most basic right of citizenship,” he said.

One of our greatest achievements to note on this Freedom Day is the ‘new nationhood’ that South Africa enjoys, according to the President.

The nationhood he refers to speaks to a ‘non-racial, non-sexist and democratic South Africa’.

“Our new nationhood manifests itself in many ways. Today the children of our land, black and white, can learn in the same schools, and study in the same universities and colleges,” he explained.

He attributed the crafting of this new South Africa to the struggles of the masses.

While South Africa has experienced great progress, the nation is still however faced with many challenges. Ramaphosa refers to the current tensions in our country as an example.

“Despite the progress we have made, we are still confronted by sinister attempts to undermine the unity of our nation through acts of racism, through attacks on foreign nationals, and in the open display of the old South African flag.

“Although we have achieved much in the last 25 years, we still have much further to travel,” he explained.

Also read: Political parties reflect on what Freedom Day means, 25 years into South Africa’s democracy

Ramaphosa added that South Africa can not be a free nation while it is still haunted by deep levels of inequality.

“Too many of our people still live in poverty, too many are unemployed, too many are homeless, too many do not have the basic necessities of life.

“As we celebrate 25 years of democracy, we need to focus all our attention and efforts on ensuring that all South Africans can equally experience the economic and social benefits of freedom,” he added.

Therefore as South Africans head to the polls on May 8, Ramaphosa urged citizens to resolve that “we will work to address our challenges together”.

“Regardless of race, creed, disability, sexual orientation, religion or social standing, we share as a source of pride the name South African. It belongs to each and every one of us, and we wear it with honour. 

“United by our love for freedom and our commitment to see our great nation thrive and prosper, let us move forward together towards achieving a stronger, greater, more compassionate, more united and harmonious South Africa,” he concluded.

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