ANC STATEMENT ON 62nd ANNIVERSARY OF THE SHARPEVILLE MASSACRE AND HUMAN RIGHTS DAY
Human Rights Day is a historic day that reminds us all that the democracy prevailing in South Africa was not free. The ANC continues to call on the masses of our people to remember contributions of heroes and heroines who gallantly fought against the racist brutal apartheid regime which deprived the black majority basic human rights. We further call on all our people to defend the gains of this democracy as we recommit to redress the inequities of the past and advance the socio-economic transformation for a shared prosperity and a more just society responding to the Bill of Rights of citizens enshrined in our Constitution.
The memory of the Sharpeville massacre on 21 March 1960, is etched in our collective consciousness. The scenes of apartheid security forces unleashing untold violence on unarmed and peaceful protesters, who stood against the regime’s oppressive pass laws, shaped the cause of freedom and human rights in the country and will remain forever in the memory of humankind.
We continue to celebrate those heroes and heroines of our people who fought, suffered and particularly those who laid down their lives in order for freedom and democracy to reign in South Africa.
It was through the efforts of these gallant fighters who rendered the apartheid government ungovernable through mass action, protests and struggle that today we have a progressive and exemplary constitution that is revered the world over.
On the international calendar, 21 March is commemorated as the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, based on these tragic events that epitomized the terror that was unleashed on the people of South Africa in pursuit of maintaining a system of racism and white supremacy.
It has become increasingly urgent for us to intensify our work to restore the relevance, capability and credibility of the ANC so that it continues to be an effective force for transformation.
As the January 8 Statement reminds us, the lodestars of our journey of social transformation are to be found in the Freedom Charter and our country’s Constitution and the plans developed over the years to attain the lofty ideals that they espouse. That is what defines the movement’s unique relevance in the current age. Human Rights are an embodiment of the aspirations of the Freedom Charter.
We have no doubt that in The Year of Unity and Renewal to Defend and Advance South Africa’s Democratic Gains, Human Rights must be defended and deepened by our program of action which is to:
1) Build a social compact to decisively tackle unemployment, poverty and inequality. Working with all social partners, we must accelerate economic recovery and reconstruction and ensure that social services are provided to all citizens.
2) Defend our democratic gains against attempts to undermine our Constitutional order and destabilize our democracy.
3) Accelerate fundamental renewal and rebuilding of the ANC so that it is a more effective and trusted agent of change.
4) Build a capable developmental state with an effective and ethical public service that drives the implementation of South Africa’s transformative agenda.
5) Continue to work for a better Africa and a better world.
The ANC-led government has through the Bill of Rights in the Constitution enshrined the rights of all people in the country and affirmed the democratic values of human dignity, equality and freedom. The Bill of Rights applies to all law, and binds the legislature, the executive, the judiciary and all organs of state to uphold and ensure citizens progressively realize these rights.
We call on all peace and freedom loving South Africans to actively contribute towards efforts to deepen a culture of human rights in South Africa and reject the agenda of agent provocateurs who seek to divide this great nation through acts of racial, gender, and other discriminatory practices that violate the rights of others, especially the vulnerable amongst us.
All members of the ANC are called upon to isolate and reject racism, tribalism, ethnic chauvinism in all their manifestations in our communities. The eradication of gender-based violence, and
homophobia and related hate crimes is equally a task we should embrace with fervor.
The ANC-led government has ensured that those who violate the rights of women through
gender-based violence and femicide, face the full might of the law and are dealt with harshly through progressive legislation such as the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences and Related Matters)
Amendment Act, the Criminal and Related Matters Amendment Bill and the Domestic Violence Amendment Bill have strengthened the fight against gender-based violence in South Africa.
We call upon all citizens to act in partnership with the democratic state by ensuring that we change our behaviour, bring the perpetrators of this second pandemic to book and protect women.
All South Africans must contribute towards healing the painful wounds of our past and unite in forging ahead to build a united, non-racial, non-sexist, democratic, and prosperous South Africa that benefits all.
Let’s us work together to eradicate the legacy of apartheid and collectively address challenges such as poverty, unemployment and inequality.
We urge South Africans from all walks of life to remember that our freedom and democracy was never free, many people lost their lives for this freedom. Let human rights continue to reign in
South Africa, our Constitution guarantees all of us our human rights. As we enjoy these rights, let’s remember that they come with a great responsibility.
ISSUED BY THE AFRICAN NATIONAL CONGRESS
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