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South Africa expresses grave concern at the escalating conflict in Sudan and attacks in El Fasher, capital of North Darfur
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South Africa once more expresses its serious concern at the on-going armed conflict in Sudan which has resulted in loss of civilian lives, wanton destruction of property, especially critical infrastructure, and displacement of the population. 

South Africa stands in solidarity with the innocent people of Sudan, who have been subjected to untold suffering since the outbreak of hostilities on 15 April 2023, with the main protagonists to the conflict being the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF). South Africa reiterates its call for the immediate end to the conflict and resumption of genuine and sincere talks to bring an end to the human suffering that the people of Sudan have endured for a long time. 

There can be no military solution to the fighting, which must be resolved in a peaceful manner on the basis of a Sudanese-owned and Sudanese-led inclusive dialogue, paving the way for a return to the transition process towards a civilian-led, democratic Government. 

We express our grave concern at the outbreak of a major fighting in El Fasher, the capital of North Darfur and the plight faced by many civilians, especially women and children. The reported use of heavy artillery by the fighting parties in populated places continues to place the lives of civilians in danger. In this regard we wish to sight the warning by the Secretary-General of the UN, Mr Antonio Gutteres, during his recent address to the UN Security Council, that “intentionally directing attacks against the civilian population and wilfully impending humanitarian relief for civilians in need may constitute war crimes”.

The attacks against El Fasher came amidst the Human Rights Watch Report which detailed cases of gross human rights abuses in Sudan, including ethnically motivated killings and gender-based violence. 

We call on all the parties to the conflict to respect international law, including international humanitarian law, protect civilians, especially women and children, and not to hamper in any manner the distribution of humanitarian assistance as well as provision of medical support.

There is a need to urgently put an end to impunity in this senseless conflict. The dire human rights situation arising from the ongoing conflict cannot be ignored, nor can the role of relevant multilateral and regional bodies and initiatives. South Africa pledges its full support to the efforts of the UN Secretary-General’s Personal Envoy to Sudan, Mr Ramtane Lamamra, the African Union and Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) to promote the peaceful end to the conflict through mediation and dialogue. 

 

Media enquiries: Vincent Magwenya, Spokesperson to the President, on media@enquiries.gov.za

Issued by: The Presidency
Pretoria

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Address by President Cyril Ramaphosa ahead of the 2024 Elections
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Fellow South Africans,

I wish to address you on two matters this evening.

Firstly, I wish to speak to you about the country’s readiness for the forthcoming elections.

Secondly, as this sixth democratic administration draws to a close, I wish to speak to you about the path we have travelled together over the last 5 years.  

Tomorrow morning at 9am, in voting stations and homes across the country, South Africans who have registered for special votes will begin to cast their ballots.

Thousands of South Africans living abroad have already voted.

And this Wednesday, the 29th of May, millions more South Africans will exercise this most important of democratic rights.

This will be the seventh time that South Africans of all races, from all walks of life, from all corners of our country, will go to vote for national and provincial government.

We will once again assert the fundamental principle, articulated in the Freedom Charter, that no government can justly claim authority unless it is based on the will of all the people.

In the days to come, we will be doing much more than exercising our Constitutional right to vote.

We will be determining the direction that our country takes. We will be taking responsibility for our future, the future of our families, our communities, and our nation.

As we cast our votes, we will be vindicating the struggles and sacrifices of the generations before us who fought for this democracy.

As in every election that we have held since 1994, we expect this election to be held in conditions of peace and stability, to be free and to be fair.

We commend the Independent Electoral Commission for the impressive work they have undertaken in preparation for these elections.

As a country, we have once again witnessed the capabilities of the IEC – in the successful voter registration weekends, in the registration of parties and candidates, in the preparation of ballot papers, in the organisation of overseas voting, and in the diligent application of our electoral laws.

We convey our thanks and best wishes to the IEC commissioners, to the IEC staff and to the thousands of election workers as they deliver on this most important responsibility in the coming days.

One of the defining features of all our elections since 1994 has been their integrity.

This has been made possible not only by the work and conduct of the IEC, but also by the presence of party agents and independent observers.

The involvement of party agents gives people confidence that there is effective oversight of all aspects of the electoral process.

Through the presence of local and international observers we are able to satisfy ourselves that our elections conform not only to our own laws, but also to internationally-accepted standards of freeness and fairness.

We thank all the party agents and the election observers for the work they are doing, and reiterate that they must be allowed to do their work without any hindrance.

As in previous elections, our law enforcement agencies and security services have made extensive preparations to ensure that these elections are peaceful and that all South Africans can freely exercise their right to vote.

They have been deployed throughout the country to ensure that there are no disturbances or disruptions to the election process.

We thank them for their professionalism, their dedication and their vigilance.

Over the course of the last few months, many different parties and candidates have vigorously and enthusiastically campaigned for votes. 

While the contestation has been robust and has, at times, become heated, campaigning has been peaceful and free of intimidation.

We commend all parties that have upheld the Electoral Code of Conduct and that have ensured that their supporters adhere to the democratic principles that have long characterised our elections.

We should all be concerned at reports that came out today about the obstruction of election activities, including unlawful entry at IEC storage sites in KwaZulu-Natal.

We once again call upon all parties, candidates, supporters and every South African to refrain from any action that could interfere with the due electoral process.

Regardless of the outcome, let this election further entrench our democracy and strengthen our commitment to uphold it.

My Fellow South Africans,

This election brings to a close the sixth administration of our democracy.

When this administration took office in 2019, our country stood at a turning point. 

We had endured a decade of corruption and state capture, of weak economic growth and the erosion of our public institutions.

Today, we have put that era behind us. 

We have placed South Africa on a new trajectory of recovery and laid a strong foundation for future growth.

We have taken significant steps to reform our economy by implementing a number of reforms that affect various sectors of the economy. 

In tackling crime and corruption we have introduced a number of initiatives and measures to reposition our criminal justice system. 

We have faced many challenges along the way, which have tested our resilience and our resolve.

Yet, in each instance, we have confronted these challenges together. We have remained united. We have worked in partnership and in solidarity.

Together, as a nation, we brought state capture to an end.

We dislodged the criminal networks that had stolen billions from our people, that had eroded our public institutions and that had undermined the rule of law.

Together, we worked to rebuild our law enforcement agencies, our security services, our state-owned companies and a number of other public bodies.

Through the work of institutions like the NPA’s Investigating Directorate, the Hawks and the SIU, several state capture and corruption cases have been brought to court and billions of rands in stolen funds have been recovered.

On Friday, I signed into law legislation that will establish the NPA’s Investigating Directorate against Corruption as a permanent entity.

There is still much that we need to do to end corruption.

However, as a country, we have sent a clear message to the corrupt that they can no longer expect to get away with their crimes with impunity and without consequence.

One of the developments that defined the last five years was the COVID pandemic, which was the worst global health crisis in over a century.

Our country and our people were not spared the devastation of the pandemic.

More than 100,000 South Africans lost their lives to the illness. More than 2 million jobs were lost, and many businesses were forced to close.

And yet, the damage could have been far, far worse.

As a country, we came together when it was most needed.

We took extraordinary measures to keep ourselves and each other safe.

We lowered the rate of infection, and ensured that every person received the care that they needed.

We introduced a massive package of social and economic support to protect vulnerable businesses, workers and households from the destructive effects of the pandemic.

More than 5.7 million workers received wage support through the special UIF scheme.

Through the introduction of the special SRD grant, we provided relief to more than 11 million unemployed people at the height of the pandemic.

Working together, we succeeded in administering more than 39 million COVID vaccine doses.

Even during the worst moments of the pandemic, we endured and we overcame.

This is how we are as South Africans. We confront even the greatest of challenges with determination and courage.

When, in July 2021, it looked like our country would go up in flames, the people of South Africa stood firm against those who wanted to incite an insurrection.

We proved that our democracy remains strong, and our commitment to the Constitution and the rule of law resolute.

When, in April 2022, catastrophic flooding struck parts of KwaZulu-Natal, the Eastern Cape and North West, South Africans came together to provide material assistance to those affected and to rebuild what was destroyed.

And as we worked to rebuild our economy, South Africans came together in social partnerships to drive investment, to build infrastructure and to remove the obstacles to inclusive growth.

Our economy has returned to pre-COVID levels and we have recovered the jobs lost to the pandemic.

As we confronted a debilitating electricity crisis, we came together as social partners.

Through a concerted and focused effort, we achieved a sustained reduction in the severity of load shedding.

Together, we supported Eskom’s efforts to improve the performance of its power stations. We enabled investment in new electricity generation capacity on a scale that is unprecedented in our history. 

Working with financial institutions, development agencies, business and professional associations, we revitalised investment in infrastructure.

The value of projects currently in construction is over R230 billion, including energy, water infrastructure and rural roads projects.

Together, we mobilised more than R1.5 trillion in new investment commitments. This has led to the opening of new factories, mines, data centres and production lines.

Master plans have been finalised in eight industries, including clothing, poultry, sugar, automotive, furniture, steel, tourism and forestry.

We have provided support to more than 1,000 black industrialists over the last five years. And today, more than half a million workers own shares in the companies they work for.

We have made this progress by working in partnership and building consensus.

We came together to tackle the challenge of youth unemployment.

Working with private sector partners, we established the Youth Employment Service, which has created over 144,000 work experiences for young people.

We have worked across government and with NGOs to implement the Presidential Employment Stimulus, which has created more than 1.9 million work and livelihood opportunities for unemployed South Africans. 

And as the country confronted the scourge of gender-based violence and femicide, South Africans rallied together in defence of the lives and the safety of the women of this country.

A National Strategic Plan on Gender-based Violence was developed, together with civil society, as a whole-of-society response to this national emergency.

New laws were introduced to strengthen the response of the criminal justice system and centres established to provide support to survivors of gender-based violence. 

On Friday, I signed into law the establishment of a National Council on GBV and Femicide, which will lead and coordinate our national response.

We have worked together to rebuild community policing forums and to provide them with the resources they need to be more effective in the fight against crime.

We have increased the number of police on the street by 20,000 over the last two years and established specialised task teams in the police to tackle illegal mining, cable theft, cash-in-transit heists, gangsterism and other economic crimes.

This work is producing results. Arrests are being made. Perpetrators are being sent to jail. And in many areas, the incidence of such crimes is being reduced.

Even under difficult conditions, over the last five years we have made progress together in tackling poverty and improving people’s lives.

We worked together to implement the National Minimum Wage, which has increased the wages of more than 6 million workers, including farm workers and domestic workers.

Last year, South Africa achieved its highest matric pass rate ever. 

Significantly, learners from no-fee paying schools accounted for around two-thirds of the total bachelor passes obtained.

These achievements are the result of a collective effort by the learners, their teachers, education officials, parents and communities. 

They are also the result of programmes to support children from poor families, including the child support grant, the school feeding programme and the increase in no-fee schools.

Working together, we have substantially increased financial support for students from poor and working class families. 

We have doubled the number of students receiving support from NSFAS over the last five years to well over a million in the last academic year.

And we have reasserted our country’s presence on the global stage, providing a strong voice for the developing world and for the oppressed and powerless everywhere.

We have worked towards silencing the guns throughout our continent, including through diplomacy and the deployment of SANDF personnel as peace keepers.

Just a few days ago, the National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces concluded the work of the sixth Parliament.

Over the course of five years, Members of Parliament from all parties represented in Parliament have worked diligently to implement a clear electoral mandate to transform our country.

They have worked alongside South Africans to consider and pass several transformative laws. They have convened public hearings in every part of the country, received thousands of submissions on every bill and conducted their proceedings in an open and transparent manner.

From strengthening the laws against gender-based violence to making South African Sign Language our twelfth official language, from ensuring transparency and accountability in political party funding to introducing the National Health Insurance, this Parliament has drawn on the views and the wishes of the people of South Africa.

As the work of Parliament has come to an end, we thank all the Members of this Sixth Parliament for their hard work and dedication over the last five years. 

We thank the Presiding Officers, the leaders of all the political parties, the Committee Chairs, the Whips and all the Parliamentary staff.

Fellow South Africans,

The last five years have been a time of rebuilding and recovery. 

It has been about working together not only to meet the challenges of the moment, but to put in place firm foundations for a better future.

As this sixth administration draws to a close, and as we prepare for the seventh administration, let us build on the progress that we have made.

At this moment in our path to renewal, we cannot afford to turn back.

There is more work to be done.

Let us draw strength and encouragement from the difficulties we have overcome together.

I call upon all South Africans to go cast their votes. 
    
We are a diverse people, but a united nation.

Let us be united in our commitment to our democracy.

Let us work together to build a better country.

May God bless South Africa and protect its people.

Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika.
Morena boloka setjhaba sa heso. 
God seen Suid-Afrika.
God bless South Africa.
Mudzimu fhatutshedza Afurika.
Hosi katekisa Afrika.

I thank you.

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President Ramaphosa to address the nation
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President Cyril Ramaphosa will this evening, 26 May 2024, address the nation. 

The President will address the nation as follows: 

Date: Sunday, 26 May 2024
Time: 18h00 

SABC will provide a feed to all media and PresidencyZA will live stream the proceedings.

 

Media enquiries: Vincent Magwenya, Spokesperson to the President, on media@enquiries.gov.za

Issued by: The Presidency
Pretoria

President Ramaphosa welcomes new ICJ orders in aid of Rafah
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South Africa welcomes the order handed down by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) today by 13 votes to 2, ordering Israel, in conformity with its obligations under the Genocide Convention and in view of the worsening conditions of life faced by civilians in Rafah, to immediately halt its military operation.

The Court ordered Israel to halt any other actions in Rafah, which may inflict on the Palestinian group in Gaza conditions of life that could bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part.

The Court further ordered Israel to maintain open the Rafah crossing for unhindered provision of urgently needed basic services and humanitarian assistance and to take effective measures to ensure the unimpeded access to the Gaza Strip of any commission of inquiry, fact-finding mission or other investigative body mandated by competent organs of the United Nations to investigate allegations of genocide.

In terms of the court order, Israel has to submit a report to the Court on all measures taken to give effect to this order within one month.

In its ruling, the World Court said it was “not convinced” that the evacuation of Rafah and other measures by Israel are sufficient to alleviate the suffering of Palestinians.

The ruling was made pursuant to an urgent request filed by South Africa on 10 May 2024, which was followed by an urgent Oral Hearing the following week scheduled by the Court.

South Africa asked the Court to grant additional or modified provisional measures in order to prevent irreparable harm by Israel to the rights of Palestinians under the Genocide Convention, as well as to South Africa’s rights and obligations under that Convention to take steps to prevent genocide.

South Africa has already successfully applied for provisional measures on two separate occasions, but Israel has refused to comply with these binding orders of Court, which necessitated the return to The Hague once more following Israel’s Rafah invasion.

South Africa’s request was based on UN sources and information from other credible international NGOs, and the Court’s own recounting of the facts.

Those facts were not refuted by Israel with anything but its own unsourced, unsupported, and unilateral assertions. 

Expert accounts point to  Israel having repeatedly bombed, shelled, and invaded areas that it had previously designated as safe ‘humanitarian zones and has also repeatedly displaced Palestinians from sites where it previously directed them to seek refuge and shelter.

President Ramaphosa said: “We are gravely concerned that Israel has restricted necessary levels of aid from entering Gaza and has systematically targeted aid and aid infrastructure within Gaza.

“This case is thus focused on the ordinary Palestinians in Gaza who are now facing their seventh month of suffering through collective  punishment for something for which they have no individual responsibility.”

By 24 May, when the ICJ gave its fourth decision on provisional measures in four months, at least 35,709 Palestinians had been killed. 

Palestinians continue to die of starvation, many of them children, and hundreds of thousands are at imminent threat of death because a deliberate decision has been taken by Israel to starve Palestinians by denying them food.

 At least 80,000 Palestinians have been injured and 1.7 million displaced, often multiple times, with 900,000 displaced in the last two weeks alone.

The Court, whose powers are tied to the provisions of the Genocide Convention and cannot be exercised against “mere” war crimes or human rights violations, has done what it considers it can do to ensure the survival of the Palestinian people in Gaza as a group and their protection from further harm.
South Africa remains concerned that the United Nations Security Council has so far not succeeded in stopping the human suffering. 

The Court’s latest order comes in the same week that the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) took a decisive step in requesting arrest warrants to be issued for the Prime Minister and Defence Minister of Israel, and three leaders of Hamas, for alleged crimes against humanity and war crimes committed since 7 October 2023.

The action follows South Africa's referral of such crimes to the International Criminal Court in November 2023.

“We call on all State Parties to observe the prescripts of international law, which obliged them to reconsider their relations with Israel following the Court findings. 

“Under international law, Israel is obliged to implement the Court’s Order, as well as the previous orders of 26 January (as reaffirmed by the Court on 16 February) and 28 March. Similarly under international law, the prohibition on genocide is a peremptory norm from which no derogation is permitted, for any reason whatsoever,” says President Ramaphosa.

 

Media enquiries: Vincent Magwenya, Spokesperson to the President, on media@enquiries.gov.za

Issued by: The Presidency
Pretoria

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President Ramaphosa pays tribute to the late former Member of Parliament James Selfe
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President Cyril Ramaphosa offers his condolences to the family, friends and colleagues of the former parliamentary veteran and former Chairperson of the Democratic Alliance Federal Council, Mr James Selfe, who passed away on 21 May 2024 at the age of 68.

President Ramaphosa said: “As a long-serving Member of Parliament, James Selfe performed his democratic duty from the opposition benches with rigour and respect for his political adversaries.

“As a member of the Portfolio Committee on Justice and Correctional Services, he had an unshakable determination that we should rid our country of crime and make it safer for all of us.

“His passionate, dignified articulation and practice of liberalism enriched our engagement across party lines and he will be remembered for many valuable contributions to our legislative reforms.”

 

Media enquiries: Vincent Magwenya, Spokesperson to the President, on media@enquiries.gov.za

Issued by: The Presidency
Pretoria

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Remarks by President Cyril Ramaphosa on the signing of the National Council on Gender-Based Violence and Femicide Bill and the National Prosecuting Authority Amendment Bill, Union Buildings, Tshwane
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Programme Director,
Ministers and Deputy Ministers,
Representatives of the respective Portfolio and Select Committees,
Senior officials,
Development agencies,
Representatives of civil society,
Members of the media,
Distinguished guests,

Ladies and gentlemen, 

Good morning and thank you for being here. 

Today I will be signing into law legislation that will give effect to two undertakings made by this administration when it took office. 

The first undertaking was to capacitate and strengthen our law enforcement agencies and the National Prosecuting Authority in the fight against corruption. 

The second undertaking was to work with civil society, communities and other sectors to end gender-based violence and femicide. 

You will know that last week, here at the Union Buildings, we signed the National Health Insurance Bill into law. We have previously held public signing ceremonies for important legislation like the National Minimum Wage Act and the Constitutional amendment to make South African Sign Language our twelfth official language.

The public signing of transformative legislation promotes transparency and accountability.

It helps to ensure that citizens are aware of the laws that affect them, that they understand what these laws entail, and that they are better empowered to exercise their rights under these laws.

Corruption and gender-based violence are two scourges that plague our country and corrode our social fabric. 

As we mark 30 years of democracy, we know that our aspiration to be a truly free and equal society cannot be achieved for as long as criminals steal the resources meant for the benefit of the people, and for as long as this country’s women and children do not feel safe and free to walk our streets. 

The two pieces of legislation that I will sign today form part of government’s efforts to strengthen institutions, develop partnerships and build state capacity. 

The first piece of legislation facilitates the establishment of a National Council on Gender-Based Violence and Femicide. 

This statutory body will coordinate and provide strategic leadership to the fight against GBV and femicide. 

It will be multi-sectoral, drawing on the expertise of all stakeholders, including civil society, labour and business. 

Establishing this Council was one of the resolutions of the first Presidential Summit on Gender-Based Violence and Femicide, which I convened in 2018. 

Since then, working together, we have made important progress.

The National Strategic Plan on Gender-based Violence was developed, together with civil society, as a society-wide response to this national emergency.

We have founded the Women's Economic Assembly, collaborating with civil society and business. This initiative aims to integrate women-owned enterprises into industry value chains, promote sustainable economic development, and empower women economically.

Around R21 billion was dedicated over the medium term to the implementation of the six pillars of the plan, including the economic empowerment of women.

We enacted new laws to strengthen the response of the criminal justice system to gender-based violence. We have worked to improve the support provided to survivors of gender-based violence through the establishment of new Thuthuzela Care Centres, new Sexual Offences Courts and victim-friendly rooms at nearly all police stations across the country.

Through these efforts, we have seen improvements in conviction rates and in stricter sentencing.

While this progress is welcome, our greatest task is to prevent gender-based violence from being perpetrated in the first place. 

We want to end, once and for all, the violence that men perpetrate against women.

That is why everyone in society needs to be involved.

Even as we have made progress in implementing the National Strategic Plan, we have all recognised the need for the national response to be more coordinated between the different stakeholders. 

We need a national effort that is more inclusive, more focused and better resourced.

We are confident that this Council will provide much of what we need and will further strengthen the national effort to eradicate violence against women and children. 

I wish to congratulate Parliament, the Department of Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities, other government stakeholders, development partners and UN agencies for their efforts to bring us to this point. 

I also wish to thank civil society organisations, whose tireless advocacy for this Council to be established has come to fruition. 

I believe we will continue to count on your support, as well as the support of labour and business, in this all-of-society effort to combat the pandemic of gender-based violence. 

Ladies and gentlemen, 

The signing into law of the National Prosecuting Authority Amendment Bill will establish an Investigating Directorate against Corruption as a permanent entity within the NPA. 

It has been five years since we established an Investigating Directorate within the NPA to investigate cases of corruption and other serious crimes arising from the Commission of Inquiry into State Capture. 

These are five years in which great progress has been made.

To date, the Investigating Directorate has taken 39 state capture and corruption cases to court, involving 212 accused persons and 68 accused entities.

In the last five years, the NPA has also secured the conviction of almost 700 government officials for corruption.

The NPA’s Asset Forfeiture Unit has restrained and preserved ‘state capture’ assets to the value of more than R14 billion. Over R6 billion has been recovered so far. 

The Investigating Directorate against Corruption will be a permanent, prosecution-led agency with full criminal investigative powers.

This legislation will help to overcome challenges with capacity and expertise within the NPA to investigate and prosecute complex corruption cases. 

The Investigating Directorate against Corruption will be able to recruit and retain specialist skills to deliver on its mandate. 

Permanent criminal investigators will be appointed, with full police powers. 

The Investigating Directorate against Corruption will be able to reap the benefits of collaboration with the private sector and other social partners. 

By way of example, efforts are underway as part of the partnership between government and business to create a Digital Evidence Unit specialising in the identification, collection, analysis and presentation of digital evidence. 

Prosecution is a state’s most serious and credible instrument of accountability. 

When prosecutors obtain convictions before independent courts for serious crimes like corruption, they not only hold those responsible accountable. They also strengthen the rule of law. 

Today we are taking another important step in our quest to promote accountability.

The criminal actions of those involved in corruption and the perpetrators of gender-based violence may differ in nature, but the consequences of both are devastating. 

Corruption and gender-based violence are affronts to the human dignity that is the inalienable right of every South African. 

These forms of criminality are holding our country back and preventing us from realising our full potential. 

The signing of these two Acts signal our determination to continue to build an ethical, capable state with strong institutions that can deliver on their mandate of improving the lives of every South African. 

I call on all stakeholders, in government, in business, in labour and across civil society to support the effort to make these two new entities a success. 

I thank you.

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Keynote address by Deputy President Shipokosa Paulus Mashatile at the Memorialisation and Honouring of the 21 former MK freedom fighters event, Orlando Community Hall, Soweto
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Programme Director;
The Minister of Defence and Military Veterans, Ms Thandi Modise,
Deputy Minister of Defence and Military Veterans, Mr Thabang Makwetla,
Our esteemed Military Veterans,
Government officials,
Members of the media,

Today is one of those important and historic moments which must go down in the annals of history as we witnessed the handover and unveiling of tombstones of the 21 fallen heroes who were former Umkhonto we Size operatives who perished between 1986 and1990.

This handover ceremony and engagement with the family members of those fallen heroes is important for two basic reasons – the first is that we are living up to the constitutional injunction which enjoins us to “Recognise the injustices of our past; Honour those who suffered for justice and freedom in our land; and to Heal the divisions of the past and establish a society based on democratic values, social justice and fundamental human rights”.

The second one which is of equal importance is that by today’s unveiling ceremony, we hope to bring closure to the suffering and agony of the families of these heroic combatants of Umkhonto we Sizwe who have also bravely and quietly endured the pain of the loss of their loved ones in the course of the struggle for liberation.

It is a matter of importance and historical significance that these combatants that we are honouring today lost their lives during a very turbulent period in our history and strive for our democratic freedom.

For us to understand the immense contribution made by these comrades to the victory of the democratic forces and the demise of the apartheid regime we need to reflect on the extra-ordinary sacrifices that have been made by those who have played a direct role in liberating this country from an unjust system which prioritised the interest of a minority.

As for the families here today and many other families, you can testify of the extreme hardships being experienced when your loved ones departed for unfamiliar territories with so many uncertainties. These liberation heroes have also made enormous sacrifices, including the disruption of their families' unity, in order to secure the freedom we enjoy today.

As we continue to honour the memory of our fallen uMkhonto we Sizwe military veterans, we pay tribute to those brave men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice in service to our country. We will never forget their selflessness, courage, and commitment to defending our nation.

We are gathered here today, reminded of the bravery and steadfast commitment of these individuals, who felt a deep obligation to serve and act in the interest of what was best for the country in the fight for liberation.

They demonstrated remarkable courage and strength in the face of adversity, showing unwavering determination and fortitude in the most difficult of situations.

Unfortunately, many of our liberation heroes never saw the dawn of democracy that was ushered in 1994. However, they have paid the ultimate price with the hope of a South Africa that we have today.

Compatriots,

Allow me to briefly remind you of the reasons why these MK military veterans chose to form part of our liberation movement and campaigns against the apartheid regime.

The journey of South Africans before 1994 was a challenging and arduous one. For decades, the country endured the oppressive system of apartheid, a system that enforced racial segregation and discrimination against the majority black population.

This system denied black South Africans the capacity to exercise fundamental human rights, such as the right to vote, access to equal access and quality education and healthcare, and the freedom to move around freely throughout the country without restriction.

Throughout the years of apartheid, black South Africans endured a multitude of challenges, including violence, discrimination, and economic hardship. They forcefully displaced many individuals from their residences and communities, transferring them to densely populated and disadvantaged townships, also leading to the fragmentation of families and communities at large.

Despite facing immense challenges and brutal crackdowns by the previous government, the people of South Africa never gave up their fight for freedom and equality.

For these reasons, prominent leaders such as Nelson Mandela founded this paramilitary wing of the African National Congress. They served as the nation's frontline defenders, fighting against an oppressive government; as a result, they remain our national heroes and on whose foundation we should bulid to further advance the country’s developmental priorities.

It is because of the contribution of these liberation martyrs that our nation has triumphed. However, we must bear in mind that our freedom was never free. It came at the ultimate cost, leaving an indelible mark on many families, some of whom are still here today.

As we remember and commemorate their sacrifice, it is important for us to not only honor their memory but also to ensure that their legacy lives on. We must continue to support and care for our veterans and their families.

We must strive to create a society that values and respects the sacrifices made by MK veterans and their families. The greatest honor would be to reflect on the true cost of war and its impact on the families and communities of these fallen heroes. It is for this reason that we have a collective duty to protect our democratic gains as we must be united, now more than ever to overcome and break free from the shackles of poverty and high levels of inequality. We face a common enemy of under-development which need a more focused response to ensure that we are able to improve the quality of people’s lives.

Equally, we are also here today as representatives of our people and leaders in your own right. We therefore need to call upon your leadership as families, veterans, elders and community leaders to forge a renewed commitment to take our struggle forward, to address all of our development objectives that will set us on a path of development for growth and prosperity. 

Compatriots,

It is regrettable that some veterans and their families are still struggling with poverty after thirty years of democracy.

Sadly, most of these brave men and women were never able to save for retirement or their children's futures by funding health care plans or pensions, or by looking into different options for skills development or financing for their schooling.

As a result, it is critical for our government and people to express their gratitude to our nation's veterans for their service. One way to do this is to ensure that they have access to the socio-economic support, benefits, and empowerment opportunities they need to live fulfilling lives.

Rest assured, the government is actively working to bring about the change you deserve. Through the Presidential Task Team on Military Veterans, we are committed to addressing the concerns and needs raised with the government regarding veterans' benefits, support, and improving access and services to our community of military veterans.

As the ANC-led government, we are committed to providing support to the families of MK veterans in various ways, including financial assistance, to ensure they can lead fulfilling lives. Having personally witnessed the hardships endured by our people in their fight for freedom, I feel a deep sense of obligation that we really need to acknowledge and do our utmost to support them and their families for the sacrifices they made to liberate our country.

We should commemorate the sacrifices of our heroes and heroines with the necessary respect and dignity, and our collective commitment should help ensure this happens.

This government is therefore striving to achieve greater policy alignment in the government's service delivery function, specifically concerning the services offered to military veterans and their dependents.

We are actively working with the military veteran community to achieve the objectives of the Military Veterans Act of 2011, which aim to improve the quality of life for them and their dependents, enabling socio-economic progress.

As South Africans, we can honor the fallen military veterans by visiting a local war memorial or military cemetery and perhaps laying flowers or wreaths, as we did today. We must also contribute to organizations that provide assistance and support to veterans and their families.

It is also important for elderly people to take time to educate others, especially younger generations, about the sacrifices made by uMkhonto we Sizwe and other military veterans across the spectrum to protect this country and make it as peaceful as it is.

As we approach the upcoming election, let us commit ourselves to working for a free, fair, and peaceful elections. Let us also commit to resolving our differences through peaceful means, where the sacrifices of our veterans are truly honored and respected.

In closing, let us remember the words of John F. Kennedy when he said: "As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words but to live by them."

May we always remember and honor the sacrifices of our fallen MK military veterans, and may we strive to live up to the ideals for which they gave their lives. The first step is to exercise our right to vote by voting on the 29th of May. As responsible citizens, we have the right to vote under the Constitution's Bill of Rights and should utilise this right to further our democratic ideals.

I thank you.

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Eulogy by President Cyril Ramaphosa at the Special Official Funeral of former Constitutional Court Justice Yvonne Mokgoro, Bryanston Catholic Church, Johannesburg
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Programme Directors, Minister Ronald Lamola and Justice Leona Theron,
The Mokgoro Family,
Chief Justice Raymond Zondo,
Deputy Chief Justice Mandisa Maya,
Premier of Gauteng, Mr Panyaza Lesufi,
Ministers and Deputy Ministers,
Chief of the South African National Defence Force, Gen Rudzani Maphwanya
Justices,
Members of the legal fraternity,
Representatives of civil society organisations,
Fellow mourners, 

Dumelang bagaetsho, 

We gather here today to lay to rest a great South African, a champion of human rights, an outstanding jurist and an icon of gender justice. 

Through her life and through her work, Imbokodo Justice Yvonne Mokgoro was a pioneer.  

In so many respects, her legacy is a tribute to resilience, to principled activism and to steadfastness, no matter how great the obstacle or how difficult the climb. 

In 1994, upon its inception, she became the first black woman to be appointed to the Constitutional Court. 

Reaching that pinnacle was not a simple progression. It did not come easy. 

It was the culmination of many years of hard work.  

She found her calling to become a human rights lawyer in the trenches of struggle, as a student activist and member of the African National Congress in the then Bophuthatswana, and later in the Northern Cape. 

Her appointment to the Constitutional Court was the product of many years of both formal and self-study to better herself and to advance in her chosen profession. 

It was the fulfilment of a dream in which she never lost faith, even while working in a host of different jobs, as a nursing assistant, a retail salesperson and as a clerk. 

It was a progression from a successful career as a legal academic when she produced ground-breaking research on customary law. This all at a time when our jurisprudence and case law around this subject were still evolving. 

It was an achievement that followed decades of building a rigorous and demanding career.  

The life of Justice Yvonne Mokgoro was the life of untold numbers of black women in this country under apartheid, who bore the triple burden of race, class and gender.  

She sought to carve a path for herself at a time when the odds were stacked heavily against women, and against black women in particular.  

And yet she went forth with courage, with determination, and with the humility that was her trademark. 

It is because she understood these struggles so keenly, because she had experienced them first-hand, that Justice Mokgoro was such a passionate and ardent advocate for gender justice.  

It is also the reason why she dedicated a substantial part of her time to training and mentoring young female lawyers.  

In its tribute to the late Justice Mokgoro, the International Commission of Jurists described her as an inspiration to the next generation of women lawyers. 

Justice Mokgoro brought this humanism and commitment to social justice to the bench. 

In her judgment on the court’s very first case, the seminal State v Makwanyane matter involving the death penalty, she expanded on the principle of ubuntu, describing it as “one shared value and ideal that runs like a golden thread across cultural lines”. 

During her time on the bench, in the public interest work she engaged in after she retired in 2009, she was steadfast in her view that regard for human dignity should be the bedrock of jurisprudence everywhere. 

This understanding was brought to bear in the positions she held within the United Nations system.  

Between 2016 and 2020, Justice Mokgoro chaired the UN’s Internal Justice Council, which is tasked with ensuring independence, professionalism and accountability in the administration of the justice system of the UN. 

In the aftermath of the killing of George Floyd in the United States in 2020, which gave birth to the global Black Lives Matter movement, the UN Human Rights Council set up an Independent Expert Mechanism to Advance Racial Justice and Equality in Law-Enforcement. Justice Mokgoro was appointed as its first chair.  

As South Africa we are immensely proud that our jurists are held in such high regard internationally on matters of human rights, racial discrimination and gender justice. 

Alongside her fellow other justices, she affirmed that ubuntu was interwoven with the rights to life, to dignity and to equality.  

She wrote several judgments that advanced the socio-economic rights of society’s most vulnerable. 

Much of Justice Mokgoro’s academic research supported legal and policy transformation with respect to the rights of women and children. 

This work had a broad span, from the impact of social grants on the lives of indigent women, to issues around customary law, inheritance and succession. 

Justice Mokgoro was both a witness to, and a champion of, the transformation of the bench. 

When she was appointed to the bench 30 years ago, there were approximately 165 judges. Of these, 160 were white men, three were black men, and two were white women.  

Today, 45 per cent of our judges are women, 32 per cent are black women. 

The late judge received many accolades during her illustrious career.  

Her experience and expertise saw her being appointed to a number of advisory boards of entities working to advance human rights both at home and abroad, including the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund. 

It is in recognition of her far-reaching and wide-ranging contribution to our country that she was awarded the Order of the Baobab in 2015. 

Justice Yvonne Mokgoro was a woman of indomitable courage and strength. 

Just as we mourn her, we also celebrate her. As much as Imbokodo grinds, it also soothes. 

She was an exceptional jurist who, alongside her peers on the Constitutional Court, set the highest of standards for the new democratic state. They are standards we will continuously strive to uphold, now and into the future.  

O dirile motho yo, ditiro tsa gagwe di a mo paka, are itseeleng motlhala jaaka sechaba. 

And so, drawing on the words of John Donne, we say: 

“Death be not proud, though some have called thee mighty and dreadful,
For thou art not so.
For those whom thou think’st thou dost overthrow
Die not.”  

The legacy that Justice Yvonne Mokgoro leaves behind is a towering one.  

To her family, we share in your sorrow.  

May you be comforted by the knowledge that Justice Mokgoro’s life and works continue to inspire and to guide.  

May we all have her courage.  

May we all have her resilience.  

May we all, in reflecting on her legacy, be reminded of our duty to help build a South Africa of true equality, of freedom and of human rights. 

Go lelapa la Mokgoro, Tshika yotlhe ka bophara, ditsala - lo ne lo re adimile mogaka, rotlhe re latlhegetswe! 

Gomotsegang, le bo ikgomotse ka phitlhelelo e kgolo e ya ga Justice Mokgoro, mo go fetoleng matshelo a batho mo lefatsheng je. 

A mowa wa mogale yo o robale ka kagiso, Motlhaping wa ga Maidi, mmina nare, e e reng fa e gata bojang bo bo bo robala! 

Wena yo o tlhapang ka mashi, o bo o iphorola ka tlhoa!  

O re bopile motlhaping, e bile o diretse sechaba! 

A moya wa gagwe o robale ka kagiso!  

I thank you.

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Minister Ramokgopa to deliver keynote address at the 3rd Annual Energy Summit
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Dr. Kgosientsho Ramokgopa, the Minister in The Presidency responsible for Electricity, will today, 23 May 2024, participate in the 3rd Annual Energy Summit hosted by the South African Youth Economic Council (SAYEC), in partnership with the Industrial Development Corporation(IDC) and the Central Energy Fund (CEF). 

The Summit will discuss South Africa’s energy security.

Minister Ramokgopa will deliver a keynote address and engage in moderate session. 

Members of the media are invited as follows: 

Date: Thursday, 23 May 2024
Time: 18h00 - 21h00
Venue: Capital on Park, Sandton

Media RSVPs: Communications at SAYEC on 081 413 5999


Media enquires: Tsakane Khambane, spokesperson in the Ministry of Electricity, on 082 084 5566 /tsakane@presidency.gov.za

Issued by: The Ministry in The Presidency responsible for Electricity
Pretoria

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Deputy President to attend the memorialisation and honouring of 21 former MK freedom fighters
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Deputy President Shipokosa Paulus Mashatile will on Thursday, 23 May 2024 attend and deliver a keynote address at the official handing over of headstones to 21 affected families of fallen former MK operatives in Soweto, Johannesburg. 

The Deputy President’s address will be preceded by a wreath laying ceremony at five cemeteries, including: Ga-Rankuwa (1 headstone); Avalon (7 headstones); Emfihlweni, Tembisa (4 headstones);  Westpark, Johannesburg (8 headstones); and Crystal Park, Benoni (2 headstones) from 07h00 until 09h30.

The wreath laying ceremonies will be conducted simultaneously by respective families, military veterans, and Government representatives at the above stated cemeteries in the Gauteng Province.

During the period 1986 until 1989, these 21 former MK operatives were brutally murdered and some abducted by apartheid security forces throughout the country, for advancing the struggle to bring about democracy, peace, and social justice.

The fallen freedom fighters were ambushed by the notorious regime, which worked tirelessly to preserve a system of apartheid that sought to sustain national oppression and suppress the struggle for freedom. The then apartheid state buried the freedom fighters in unmarked graves and others in bushes.

Following the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) processes, the National Prosecutions Agency (NPA)'s Missing Person Task Team retraced the remains in unmarked graves, conducted DNA analysis, exhumed, and reburied the remains of the ex-combatants in different gravesites, as guided by their respective families.

In accordance with the Preamble of our Constitution, the Republic is obliged to honour those that suffered for justice and freedom. In addition, the Military Veterans Act mandates the Department of Military Veterans (DMV) to "honour, commemorate and memorialise the armed struggle against apartheid injustices”. 

As a result, the DMV has undertaken to continue to honour and memorialise the lives and sacrifices of our fallen heroes and heroines under the theme; “Lest we forget. Freedom was never free. Remembering the lives and sacrifices of our fallen heroes and heroines”.

The Deputy President will be supported by the Minister and Deputy Minister of Defence and Military Veterans, Ms Thandi Modise and Mr. Thabang Makwetla, respectively, as well as Gauteng Provincial Government senior representatives.

Members of the media are invited as follows:

Date: Thursday, 23 May 2024
Time: 11h00 (media to arrive at 10h00)
Venue: Orlando Community Hall, Soweto

Media wishing to cover this event are requested to confirm attendance with Ms Lebogang Mothapa on 076 865 7188.

 

Media enquiries: Mr Keith Khoza, Acting Spokesperson to the Deputy President on 066 195 8840.  

Issued by: The Presidency
Pretoria

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