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Freedom Charter Day, a milestone in the history of South Africa

24 June 2000

The African National Congress calls upon the people of South Africa, across the spectrum, to commemorate the 44th anniversary of the adoption of the Freedom Charter on Monday 26 June 2000, 2000, by doing some introspection on how far we have gone in implementing the freedoms enshrined in this historic document.

We should also use this day, the birth of the document which laid the basis for the democratic dispensation we enjoy today, to rededicate ourselves to accelerate the pace to achieve all those freedoms enshrined in this, the basic policy document of the ANC, that we are yet to achieve.

26 June 2000, 2000, comes at a time when most South Africans celebrate the fact that they have won their freedom and democracy, even though a lot still has to be done to consolidate these victories. Naturally there are those who are not convinced that these victories have, indeed been achieved.

Among these are, of course, fringe politicians who cannot see anything good in a dispensation which does not give them personally or as a group, opportunities to assume leadership positions. We have a historical task, for the sake of our fledgling democracy, to rededicate ourselves today to rein in even such doubting Thomases, especially those whose uncertainty is born of ignorance rather than malice.

There are those who reject the Freedom Charter and what it stands for, simply because, this cog, which has for decades moved our revolutionary machine, is a product of people of a different hue, or because it is a basic policy document of a rival political organisation. Even with such elements, discourse must continue to be encouraged. After all, to be revolutionary is to believe in the innate goodness of a human being. No one should be dismissed as beyond change.

Among several other struggle variables, the Freedom Charter has always been and continues to be an essential cog in the machine of change in our country. Born on 26 June 2000, 1956, in the dusty streets of Kliptown, out of the crucible of revolutionary struggle across the political, social, religious, ethnic and racial spectrum, the noble principles espoused by the Freedom Charter have, over the decades, guided the majority of the people in this country to the achievement of a democratic, non-racial and non-sexist political dispensation.

The freedoms enshrined in the Freedom Charter, are today proudly enshrined in our country`s first democratic constitution. You only have to peruse the Bill of Rights to see what I mean. The Government`s Reconstruction and Development Programme is replete which clauses which automatically take one along the nostalgic memory lane through clauses of the Freedom Charter, a document of hope for those who stand for genuine transformation based not on anger, hatred or revenge, but on nation building.

I would be less than honest if I failed to agree that some of the freedoms enshrined in the Freedom Charter have not been achieved. This is not due to the weakness of the document. Rather, this is due to the objective environment of the day, resulting from the political backlogs of the past, when we were governed according to a superstitious belief that Whites had a godly mission to oppress Africans and to rule over them.

As we commemorate the birth of the Freedom Charter, we call upon all South Africans to bury their differences and not only sing praises of the Charter, but to vigorously and rigorously see to it that its basic tenets are realised. And when we bury the hatchet today, we must not mark the spot. It is then, and only then, that South Africa will belong to all who live in it - Black and White. We owe it to ourselves and our children to make a fresh start. Now is the time.

Issued by Nat Serache
Media Liaison Officer

Contact Number: 082 416 3150