Mabuza implores country to return to founding values

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Deputy President David Mabuza on Wednesday bemoaned the numerous evils haunting South Africa, particularly the abuse of women and children, in his keynote address at the country’s Human Rights Day commemorations in Sharpeville, Gauteng.

“What do we say to our innocent children about a police officer who molests children placed in his care, children who have entrusted justice and salvation to him after they were raped? What has gone wrong? Why have we become so numbed to the tragedies that rob our children of their innocence?

On this day, as we remember Sharpeville, as we celebrate our human rights, we have many questions to answer in our quest for renewal and unity,” said Mabuza.

Mabuza says, “We must begin to do things differently. We must again become men and women of moral stamina, courage and conviction. We must be like those who died in Sharpeville. For rights come with responsibilities. We must all do our part with utmost regard for the life of others, especially those that are vulnerable and marginalised. It requires that we return to our values that embrace the sanctity of life.”

He said returning to the founding ethos and a renewal of South Africa requires that those entrusted with power begin to diligently serve the communities and embrace the values of ethical leadership.

“It requires that we conduct ourselves ethically. That we give the highest quality of service to our people. That we become public servants again. That we use our freedoms and democracy to serve our people selflessly at local, provincial, and national government,” the deputy president said.

“Our real hope for the renewal, the regeneration of the soul of our nation, rest in our ability to fix our public service and improve the performance of our developmental state. Our state must be led by men and women of high moral rectitude, and dedication ,people who have made it their mission to selflessly serve and improve the lives of ordinary South Africans; people who have nothing else but the interest of our nation at heart.”

The former premier of Mpumalanga province said Human Rights Day reminds South Africans that that irrespective of race, gender, status, or creed, they are all part of the human family.

“It’s a day where we are reminded that our Bill of Rights is the bedrock of our democracy and freedom. It’s a day reminding us that South African workers have fought hard to resist inhumane working conditions, slave-wages, and unfair labour practice. So today we must re-dedicate ourselves to the course of defending the rights of the most vulnerable among us,” he said.

“But it is also a day that must remind us that freedom and democracy remain meaningless if the majority of South Africans remain trapped in poverty, without work, without bread, and without land.”

Mabuza attributed South Africa’s “flourishing human rights ethos” to the country’s founding icons particularly founding President Nelson Mandela and his generation.

He also dedicated much of his speech to paying tribute to anti-apartheid stalwart Robert Sobukwe, who died forty years ago.

“We give credence and gratitude to his struggle and that of many of his luminaries. We grant them this honour to claim their rightful place in history; to learn from them, to learn what it means to one’s soul for a deeper love of country and one’s people. On that fateful day, 58 years ago, an illegitimate and brutal apartheid regime sought to silence an unarmed and defenceless people with guns,” said Mabuza.

“When the last order to shoot finally stunned in silence, 68 souls lay dead, strewed over the streets of Sharpeville, with nearly 200 wounded. Their rivers of blood remain deep in this soil.  For us who live today, for us who enjoy their fruits of freedom, it must remain a constant reminder that our freedom was paid for. Our remit is to pay it forward for those who are yet to come.”

Human Rights Day is celebrated on March 21 every year in commemoration of the killing of 68 people in 1960 after police opened fire on thousands demonstrating again pass laws ,a measure introduced by the apartheid regime which required black people to carry a pass book so the racist regime could restrict the flow of blacks into urban South Africa.

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