South Africa is a success story and a better place to live in compared to 20 years ago.
And according to President Jacob Zuma, people from all walks of life contributed to the good story South Africa has to tell.
The transition from apartheid to a democratic South Africa was because of partnerships between government, civil society, business and labour, said the President at the launch of the Twenty Year Review.
The review looks at how the country has progressed since democracy in 1994.
“We humbly thank South Africans from all walks of life for their contribution to the successes that our country has scored.
“We have succeeded because of the hard work of all our people who contributed in various ways to rebuilding their country. We are honoured to place before the country this Twenty Year Review, which provides evidence in this regard,” said President Zuma. According to the review, the country has made significant progress in a number of areas including education, safety and security, fighting poverty, housing and access to health care.
The President noted that more than eight million children now benefit from the no-fee policy, which sees some schools not charging school fees, resulting in an increase in secondary school enrolment - from 51 per cent in 1994 to about 80 per cent currently.
About nine million school children also benefit from the school feeding scheme, which ensures that learners no longer have to study on an empty stomach, and in the past five years alone, 370 modern schools have been built.
Access to higher education has also increased over the past 20 years.
“University enrolment has almost doubled since 1994. There have also been huge increases in enrolments at further education and training (FET) colleges, following an intensive focus on these colleges in the past five years,” he said.
President Zuma said South Africans could be pleased with developments in health care.
“In addition to free basic health care, more than 1 500 health care facilities have been built and existing ones have been revitalised over the past 20 years,” he noted.
South Africa’s response to HIV and AIDS has also been praised internationally.
In 1994, the new government inherited an ailing economy that excluded the black majority. Despite these challenges, the economy has grown at a rate of 3.2 per cent over the past 20 years and has become more representative.
“Positions of power in the economy have become more representative since 1994, encouraged by government’s black economic empowerment and affirmative action policies.
“These policies will continue until the structural characteristics of apartheid in terms of inequality in ownership, management and control of the economy, as well as pay, have been addressed,” he added.
According to President Zuma, almost 250 000 people have benefited from government’s Land Redistribution Programme.
“Government introduced the Land Redistribution Programme in 1994. Since then, government has redistributed 9.4 million hectares of land, benefiting almost a quarter of a million people. The target had been 30 per cent of the agricultural land owned by white South Africans.
“As the review indicates, only 24 per cent of black households are involved in agriculture and very few commercial farms are owned by black people.”
He added that soon the country would know the status of land ownership.
“A land audit has been completed, which will assist to identify further land for reform purposes.”
Since the mid-2000s, government has also focused on economic infrastructure such as ports, rail, dams and power stations. Over the past five years, investment in infrastructure has dramatically increased.
“Investments in infrastructure will increase further, including on much needed social infrastructure such as water, electricity, sanitation, schools, colleges and housing, amongst others.”
President Zuma also noted that municipalities have made progress in delivering basic services.
“It is impressive that a number of municipalities which had little or no pre-existing institutional foundations, have been able to deliver basic services to thousands of people who did not have them before in the past two decades.”
He said the focus was now on reaching communities that were still waiting for services, particularly in informal settlements in urban areas and in remote rural areas.
Safety and security
“Crime levels remain high, particularly President Jacob Zuma praised South Africans for their contribution in making South Africa a better place than it was in 1994 when he released the Twenty Year Review recently. to the Twenty Year Review crime against vulnerable groups such as women and children which require continued intensive focus,” explained the President.
He said despite the challenges that remain, South Africa has a lot to be proud of.
“Given the manner in which we were able to pull our country back from the brink of disaster, South Africa is an inspiration to people elsewhere in the world who are seeking the resolution of serious conflicts. We are proud of this remarkable feat,” President Zuma said.