As the years go by, Freedom Day seems to have lost its lustre for many South Africans. While the older generation who endured the atrocities of apartheid may still find cause for jubilation, the younger demographic that dominates the country’s populace is growing increasingly disenchanted with the annual observance of our inaugural democratic vote.

By Themba Khumalo

On the occasion of Freedom Day in South Africa, it is important to recognize that our country still faces significant challenges. Despite efforts to overcome issues such as hunger, disease, violence against women and children, lack of education, and government-sanctioned crimes against humanity, we have not yet achieved true freedom.

This serves as a powerful reminder that we still have a long way to go in our quest for complete liberation.

It is justifiable to expect accountability from those who hold positions of authority, whether they are government representatives or corporate leaders. It is no secret that the government, the business elite, and corruption have all played a role in the problems we face today. It is only natural to point fingers and assign blame where it is due. Nevertheless, this form of criticism has become so prevalent that it is now considered routine.

As we revel in the joyous occasion of freedom, let us pause and reflect on the very essence of freedom. We must not overlook the daunting obstacles that loom over our freedom on a global scale. Rather, let us seize the freedoms we have been granted and utilise them to advance the constitutional principles of socioeconomic freedom, parity, and communal equity.

The essence of freedom is not a mere state of being, but rather an active pursuit. It is not a luxury that we are entitled to, but rather a responsibility that we must uphold. Freedom is not the ultimate destination, but rather a tool to achieve our goals. It is not just a demand that we make of our leaders, but a force that we must cultivate within ourselves and our surroundings.

The essence of freedom is not just a mere decoration, but rather a collection of instruments that enable us to construct a world that is more equitable, secure, and environmentally conscious. Without a doubt, the pillars of South African democracy and constitutionalism are feeling the pressure. A new breed of gangster state is emerging in KwaZulu-Natal, threatening to spread its toxic influence across the nation. If left unchecked, the warring factions and their allies within and beyond the ANC will only fuel the growth of this malignant tumour.

The power-hungry sect keeps hitting major speedbumps in their hurry to seize total authority over the state, all thanks to the blazing brilliance of our Bill of Rights. This sacred document grants us a plethora of freedoms, including the ability to express our thoughts, mingle with whoever we desire, and consume diverse forms of media without any impediments. We can gather, protest, and demand justice for our rights. And let us not overlook the privilege to advocate for our favoured political party or movement, and to exercise our invaluable right to vote.

We are fortunate to have the opportunity to use the courts and a somewhat independent judiciary. Additionally, our country has institutions like the South African Human Rights Commission, the Auditor-General, and the Office of the Public Protector, which demonstrates our dedication to openness and responsibility, as long as those in charge are trustworthy.

The point being made is not that we should express gratitude for having these freedoms and remain silent; rather, these freedoms do not outweigh the lack of socioeconomic freedoms and the denial of human dignity that many millions of people still experience.

However, failure to exercise the liberties currently available to us may result in their eventual forfeiture in the future.

To preserve our fundamental freedoms, it is important that we fully realise their potential by persuading individuals of their value and demonstrating their power through collaborative endeavours aimed at safeguarding other crucial liberties. The essential components for ensuring a healthy and prosperous society encompass access to sufficient nourishment, basic education, high-quality medical attention, early childhood development, and the elimination of all types of poverty and inequality.

Let us unite as proud South Africans and fiercely defend our precious freedoms, for the darkness of oppression is spreading like wildfire across the globe. The insidious forces of corruption and greed have wrought havoc on the very fabric of freedom, causing a perilous backslide. The incompetence of political parties only serves to hasten this dire situation.

The ominous ascent of authoritarianism within our government is becoming increasingly apparent, and we cannot allow it to endure as it will obliterate any meagre progress we have achieved since 1994.

This April 27, let us take a moment to rejuvenate our spirits. Let us make it a day to connect with our loved ones, colleagues, and fellow believers to discuss the vision we hold for our country. But let us not forget that this fight will require us to summon every ounce of our strength and determination. So let us gear up and prepare to battle like never before!

Now is not the moment to lament the demise of our cherished freedom. Nay, it is the time to rally and unite in its defence. Let us not leave this task solely to those we deem as activists, for the enormity of the challenge demands the participation of every member of our society who values life, dignity, and the sanctity of human rights.

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