South Africa celebrates 30 years since the end of apartheid, few remember or forget.


South Africa celebrated 30 years since the end of apartheid and the birth of its democracy.

And with a protocol in the capital on Saturday that included a 21-gun salute and the waving of the country’s multicolored flag.

But any sense of celebration on this important Christmas was offset by growing dissatisfaction with modern government.

President Cyril Ramaphosa chaired the meeting in a huge white tent in the gardens of government buildings in Pretoria as director of state.

He also spoke as leader of the African Homeland Congress party, which was widely credited with freeing South Africa’s black majority from the racist system of shame that made the country a pariah for nearly half a century.

The ANC has been in power since the first democratic, multiracial elections on April 27, 1994, the vote that officially ended apartheid.

But the Freedom Day holiday marking that day had a poignant backdrop: analysts and pollsters predict that the declining popularity of the party once led by Nelson Mandela will likely cause it to lose its parliamentary majority for the first time, as a new generation of South Africans to make their voices heard in what could be the most important election since 1994 next month.

A new chapter in history.

“Few days in the life of our country can compare with that day, when freedom was born,” said Ramaphosa in an exposition focused on nostalgia for 1994, when black people were allowed to vote for the first time, the once-rejected ANC came to power and Mandela became the country’s first black president. “South Africa has changed forever. It signaled a new chapter in the history of our homeland, a moment that resonated in Africa and around the world.”

The president, who stood in front of a banner emblazoned with the term “Freedom”, also acknowledged the main problems that South Africa still faces three decades later with vast poverty and inequality, issues that will once again be central when millions of people vote. on May 29th. Ramaphosa admitted there had been “setbacks”.

The 1994 elections transformed South Africa from a country where blacks and other non-whites were denied most basic freedoms, not just the right to vote. Laws controlled where they lived, where they could go on a given day, and what jobs they could have. After the fall of apartheid, a constitution was adopted that guarantees the rights of all South Africans, regardless of their race, religion, gender or sexuality.

But this has not significantly improved the lives of millions of people, with South Africa’s black majority, which represents more than 80% of the 62 million population, still overwhelmingly affected by extreme poverty.

The official unemployment rate is 32 percent, the highest in the world, and more than 60 percent for young people aged between 15 and 24. More than 16 million South Africans – 25 percent of the country – rely on monthly social assistance. subsidies for survival.

South Africa is still the most unequal country in the world in terms of wealth distribution, according to the World Bank, with race being a key factor.

Although the damage of apartheid remains difficult to undo, the ANC is increasingly being blamed for South Africa’s current problems.

In the week leading up to Christmas, countless South Africans were asked what 30 years of freedom from apartheid meant to them. The dominant response has been that while 1994 was a landmark moment, it is now overshadowed by the unemployment, violent crime, depravity and the near-collapse of basic services like electricity and rain that will ravage South Africa in 2024.

It is also moving that many South Africans who never experienced apartheid and are referred to as “Born Free” are now old enough to vote.

Outside the tent where Ramaphosa spoke before dignitaries and politicians, a group of young black South Africans born after 1994 and who support a new political party called Rise Mzansi wore T-shirts with the words “2024 is our 1994”. Their message was that they were looking beyond the ANC and to another change in their future in next month’s elections.

“They don’t know what happened before 1994. They don’t know,” said Seth Mazibuko, a longtime Rise Mzansi supporter and a publicized anti-apartheid activist in the 1970s.

“Let’s agree that we made a mistake,” Mazibuko said of the past 30 years, which have left the young people who supported him directly affected by the second-worst youth unemployment rate in the world, behind Djibouti.

He added: “There is a new chance in next month’s elections.”

&transcript 2024 The Canadian Press

Source: globalnews