April 28, 2005

Create a country for all, says Mbeki

President Thabo Mbeki told thousands of people who joined the Freedom Day celebrations in Durban that South Africa was steadily becoming a country that belonged to all. This was because those who had been oppressed had offered the hand of friendship and had forgiven those who were responsible for their untold sufferings. Had this not happened the country could have been engulfed by serious racial conflicts because of its unfortunate past.
Mbeki urged South Africans to ensure that the country belonged to all who lived in it. South Africans furthermore needed to ask themselves what they had done, individually and as communities, to make South Africa belong to all. "We should ask ourselves whether through our actions we have contributed to the transformation of our country or whether we have blocked its advance away from our apartheid past," he said. Working together would ensure that the country continued to improve the harsh conditions under which many of its people lived. "Indeed, after 11 years of freedom we managed to give hope where there was hopelessness, we brought dignity where indignity prevailed, through, among other things, land restitution, housing delivery, provision of clean water, electricity, social grants, better access to education and an improved economy." He acknowledged that among those present were people who still went to bed hungry and who were still learning under trees. And the challenges of the new decade were many and big because the legacy of colonialism and apartheid still ran very deep. "They are many and big because we have limited resources which cannot address all these challenges at the same time," he said, encouraging people to take on self-help projects in the spirit of Vukuzenzele ("wake up and help yourself"). Mbeki also cautioned that freedom would mean nothing as long as people in rural areas continued to live in abject poverty and in conditions of underdevelopment. (Independent Online, South Africa)

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