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From the Union Buildings: Celebrating 25 years of freedom

The year 2019 is a very special time for South Africa. It is the year in which we reflect on the journey of the last 25 years since the attainment of our hard-won freedom and democracy.

We will remember the relief and exhilaration of the day of our freedom, the historic and defining moment at which we became a country at peace with itself and the world.

As we mark this incredible milestone, whose attainment we share with the international community which stood by the oppressed majority, we should all work towards sustaining the momentum to build a society in which all South Africans enjoy their rights to life, dignity and freedom.

We must use this time to reflect on the progress we have made as a forward-looking nation that is united in its diversity. We cannot forget the challenges we have encountered, the setbacks we have suffered, and the mistakes we have made and are learning from, with the aim of never repeating them.

Twenty-five years is an occasion for us to celebrate the triumph of freedom and democracy over racial subjugation and tyranny; and the triumph of hope over despair.

Ours was a hard-won freedom. A generation of people suffered untold hardships and made many sacrifices in their commitment to build a South Africa that belongs to all who live in it.

Freedom comes with the responsibility to choose what is right or wrong, complemented by the unwavering commitment to move the country forward.

A year ago, we set out on a path of growth and renewal after emerging from a period of uncertainty and a loss of confidence. This period put a strain on our democracy and freedom, and sought to divide us as South Africans.

One of the threats to our hard-earned freedom is corruption, which must be rooted out whenever it manifests itself in our society and organisations.

We must work together to cure our country of the corrosive effects of corruption and restore the integrity of our institutions.

Let us advance the values of our Constitution and once again place at the centre of our national agenda the needs of the poor, unemployed, marginalised and dispossessed.

To address the dire situation at several of our state-owned enterprises – which have been crippled by gross mismanagement and corruption which severely undermine their effectiveness – government has implemented decisive measures to improve their governance, strengthen leadership and restore stability.

We have since intervened to stabilise and restore the credibility of institutions such as the National Prosecuting Authority, South African Revenue Service, State Security Agency and South African Police Service. We are also dealing with the effects of state capture on public institutions.

The commissions of inquiry are performing commendably, often under challenging circumstances, to uncover the truth.

Soon after these commissions make their findings and recommendations in line with their mandates, the criminal justice system will be expected to act on the evidence of criminal activities, without fear or favour.

The action we take today to end corruption and hold those responsible to account will determine the pace and path of the radical socio-economic transformation we seek to achieve.

We recognise, as do all South Africans, that our greatest efforts to end poverty, unemployment and inequality will be meaningless unless we tackle corruption in all its manifestations and in all areas of public life.

Corruption has no place in South Africa and all people need to act decisively to end this dishonest and fraudulent conduct by anonymously calling the National Anti-Corruption Hotline: 0800 701 701.

Ending corruption and living in a country which upholds the rule of law and respects the Constitution is in our hands. As a peace-loving nation, we should condemn attacks on foreign nationals, which are an act of pure criminality. South Africa belongs to all who live in it. 

In the 2019 State of the Nation Address, I highlighted the need to improve literacy levels of our country and to create a reading nation.

To date we have launched the National Reading Coalition – a body where ideas can be developed and implemented to address the national reading challenge.

Further to this, on 23 April, on World Book Day, government will be launching a reading App. I hope that you will all use the App and share the books that you and your children are reading.

I would like to call on parents to start improving reading capabilities in their homes by  taking 30 minutes a day to read out loud to their children.

Meanwhile, make your voice heard by casting your vote on 8 May during the general election.

Let us work together to build a South Africa where all people live together in peace and harmony.