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Political freedom has brought steady transformation

Written by Jacob G Zuma - President of the Republic of South Africa

Every year, Freedom Month and Freedom Day on 27 April move millions of South Africans to reflect on the day our nation ended the struggle against apartheid by defeating that system at the ballot box.

Since 1994, new generations of voters have come to appreciate the importance and power of the day 23 years ago when the nation achieved political freedom and set the country on the road towards the constitutional democracy we enjoy today.

More than two decades on, evidence of the damage inflicted by apartheid remains visible across our country manifesting itself in the way we live our lives.

However, this picture is changing rapidly and radically day by day.

A changing picture

Millions of South Africans commemorate Freedom Month and Freedom Day on 27 April every year.Freedom Month is a time for us not just to look back to 27 April 1994 but to look at every day since then, and to appreciate how much our country has changed for the better.

The lives and life chances of millions of South Africans have shifted closer to the future imagined in our National Development Plan.

The evidence of our transformation is steadily beginning to overwhelm the evidence of our terrible past, as our ANC-led government, supported by all sectors of society, moves South Africa forward.

Part of this evidence is government’s delivery of close to 4.5 million houses and subsidies since 1994, in line with the Freedom Charter’s declaration that there shall be houses, security and comfort.

Earlier this month, I launched the Westgate Social Housing Project in Vulindlela, Pietermaritzburg, in KwaZulu-Natal.

It caters for middle-income workers who struggle to secure decent and affordable accommodation for themselves and their families because they neither qualify for fully subsidised housing nor bonded houses.

Westgate and others like it give our working youth an opportunity to live in decent and well-located accommodation, and places South Africans of all races together in housing developments that are close to urban places of work.

This project is 100% rental stock catering for people earning a household income of between R1 500 and R7 500 a month.

The Westgate project is expected to cost close to R400 million, which includes funding from the private sector, and will ultimately feature 1 000 housing units accommodating close on 4 000 beneficiaries.

The KwaZulu-Natal provincial government alone has built close on 500 000 units since 1994, meaning the lives of close on 2 000 000 beneficiaries have been changed for the better by this government.

Similar projects have been established at areas like Cosmo City in Gauteng, Klarinet in Mpumalanga, Cornubia in KwaZulu-Natal, Zanemvula in the Eastern Cape and N2 Gateway in the Western Cape, just to name a few.

Recently, further evidence that we are a government of action and impact was on display at Mbizana, the Eastern Cape hometown of the longest serving ANC President, the late uTata Oliver Reginald Tambo, who would have been 100 years old this year were he still alive.

At Mbizana we launched a Rural Enterprise Development (Red) hub, as one of government’s efforts to stimulate growth through agriculture and agro-processing.

This development will reduce poverty and address low levels of development in the Mbizana district where agriculture is the third highest contributor to the local economy.

Westgate Social Housing Project in Vulindlela, Pietermaritzburg, in KwaZulu-NatalThe Red Hub will stimulate local economic development and move production beyond agriculture and traditional subsistence farming to commercial farming.

Government has also entered into a partnership with the Grain Farmers Development Association to plant maize in the Matatiele local municipality. Government has contributed R6.8 million in production inputs.

Fourteen farmers who own the land will be assisted with soil correction and crop insurance.

Government has also supported about 23 000 households with production inputs to promote household food security over the term.

Furthermore, 3 000 smallholder producers were supported with infrastructure, agricultural advice and inputs to increase sustainable food production in support of agrarian transformation.

Government has spent R100 million rand on the Ilima/Letsema national conditional grant projects aimed at eradicating poverty and stimulating the economy.

We are producing evidence of change every single day in this country.

While political analysts and media try to tell us daily that the country is in chaos and on the brink of some disastrous collapse, nothing can be further from the truth when we look at how South Africans are working together for a better life that gives meaning to Freedom Month and Freedom Day.