South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma urged his citizens to move into the future with lessons from the past when addressing Freedom Day celebrations.
The country emerged from a dark past that had sharp racial divisions and colour bar system.
“Under the leadership of former President Nelson Mandela, we demonstrated to the world that a new nation can rise from the ashes of racial intolerance and ethnic polarisation,” said Zuma.
“On Freedom Day we also recall the solidarity and friendship of many peace-loving nations and peoples from Africa and the world during the struggle for liberation.”
Zuma also took the opportunity to shower praise to other African countries that helped South Africa gain her democracy.
“Indeed, we shall never forget the solidarity, sacrifice and selfless support we received from our brothers and sisters in Africa in particular and from freedom loving nations outside of Africa,” added Zuma.
“Africa is crucial to our economic growth and development. It is trade with our continent among others that helped cushion South Africa’s economy during the difficult times of recession from 2008.”
Zuma said many South African companies have established themselves successfully in the continent and have been warmly received.
Turning to the triple challenges of poverty, unemployment and inequality, Zuma said the country needed to address these challenges.
“Given this reality, we can and should make our economy receptive to employing young people and to enable the youth to create their own jobs through becoming entrepreneurs,” said Zuma
“We urge the business sector and labour to work with government further, to implement the youth employment accord and to provide opportunities for our young people.”
Zuma decried the recent spate of xenophobic violence saying seven people were killed during horrific attacks that were directed at foreign nationals in Durban and Johannesburg.
“The authorities are working hard with affected embassies to ensure that all the foreign-born victims of the violence are positively identified. We extend our deepest condolences to all the families and compatriots of the deceased,” he said.
“We strongly condemn these attacks. They have no place in a democracy where people are free to express their unhappiness about any issue. We also urge our communities to isolate criminal elements who perpetuate such horrendous crimes against fellow human beings. They should be reported to the police.”
Zuma said South Africa has to address the underlying causes of the violence and tensions, which is the legacy of poverty, unemployment and inequality in the country and the continent and the competition for limited resources.