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South Africa: Freedom Day message from Parliament’s presiding officers

April 27, 2018

Parliament prides itself in having repealed apartheid legislation and built a formidable new legislative framework with about 2 000 laws designed to help realise a better life for all 

CAPE TOWN, South Africa, April 27, 2018,-/African Media Agency (AMA)/- Twenty-four years ago, on 27 April 1994, we, the people of South Africa, made a decisive break with the oppression of colonialism and apartheid when, for the first time as equals, we voted for a government based on the will of the people.

On that momentous day, we committed ourselves to building a South Africa which belongs to all who live in it, where all citizens would be equally protected by law, divisions of the past would be healed, the quality of life of all citizens would be improved and the potential of each person would be freed.

Now, as we celebrate the centenary year of Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, the father of our nation, we also should pay homage to the many stalwarts of our struggle for democracy, such as, Mama Albertina Sisulu. It is time for us also to popularise the untold stories of the many unsung courageous South Africans who made that first democratic election possible.

It is also a time for us to recommit to doing more to tackle the still too pervasive poverty, unemployment and inequality still afflicting so many of our people. Addressing these ills decisively needs unity of purpose and cooperation from us all. Parliament, as the legislative arm of our democratic state, has a special role to play in achieving the South Africa for which so many sacrificed so much.

As our Constitution states, Parliament must ensure government of the people by, among other things, providing a national forum for the consideration of issues, by passing legislation and by inspecting and overseeing the actions of the executive. Parliament prides itself in having repealed apartheid legislation and built a formidable new legislative framework with about 2 000 laws designed to help realise a better life for all.

To ensure that our hard-fought for democracy makes a meaningful improvement to the lives of the people, Parliament appointed an independent panel to assess the impact of legislation passed since 1994. The High Level Panel has made fundamental and progressive recommendations to intensify the programme of socio-economic transformation.

Parliament continues to advance its constitutional mandate with vigour to strengthen our democracy. The institution continues to deepen its oversight role, including conducting inquiries into alleged irregular activities in state-owned entities and improving laws governing them. With the passing of the Money Bills Amendment Procedure and Related Matters Act of 2009, Parliament has been empowered to amend the national budget. This is in keeping with recognition in the Constitution that it is necessary for Parliament to engage actively with the budget process, in the interests of good governance and financial transparency On the legislative front, Parliament is preparing to review the law governing the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid). This is to enable greater parliamentary oversight over the powers of the Minister of Police to remove or discipline the Ipid Executive Director. To enhance greater openness, accountability and transparency, we are processing legislation to regulate and require public disclosure of private funds received by political parties represented in Parliament and the Provincial Legislatures.

In addition, Parliament is reviewing section 25 of the Constitution and other sections, where necessary, to make it possible for the state to expropriate land in the public interest without compensation. The National Assembly and National Council of Provinces mandated Parliament’s Constitutional Review Committee to propose the necessary constitutional amendments, where applicable, about the kind of future land tenure regime needed.

As we look back on the past from which we have come, we can take pride in the strides we have made. However, let us with greater determination also build on the legacies of Madiba and Mama Sisulu – so that we fully achieve the prosperous and caring society for which we cast our votes in that first democratic election 24 years ago.

Distributed by African Media Agency (AMA) on behalf of Republic of South Africa: The Parliament.

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