Are all South Africans free under the democratic governance of this country?

That was the era when the rainbow nation was born and the beginning of the reconciliation to unite racial groups. For five years Mandela led this process in the country, and SA was revered by all nations in the world.

There are questions that arise though: are all South Africans free under the democratic governance of this country? Have all South Africans benefited from the freedom that was attained? Have efforts been made to equitably distribute the fruits of freedom among all South Africans?

The answer is yes and no. Yes, because the shackles of the apartheid ruling were unfastened and the people were set free to live together, side by side in the various communities. People from various ethnic groups are now able to ride on the same buses, trains, aircraft and can school together.

Community members from rural areas are able to live in urban areas with their working partners as families. Some rural areas have undergone significant changes where they have received basic services such as schools, housing and electrification. Certain departmental services have been brought to their doorsteps to ensure they do not have to travel long distances and stand in long queues.

Job opportunities have been created and under the democratic system, a black middle class emerged and they are currently leaders in political and economic spheres and in society in general.

As we celebrate Freedom Day, we should think about all the sacrifices our liberators made for us which include being tortured, imprisoned and ending up in exile, all in a quest to set the people of SA free. If we really treasure this freedom, let us create opportunities for those still hoping to enjoy the fruits of freedom by offering the much-needed jobs, economic opportunities, housing and do away with poverty.

As a nation, we need to unite now more than ever before, instead of succumbing to the divisive tendencies of greedy politicians who think only of themselves and cling on to power, no matter what. They must consider that freedom is not for the chosen few, but the entire population.

It is on the same note that I urge freedom-loving South Africans to hold one another’s hands and preserve this freedom forever. Never allow South Africa to revert to the past, but instead let us work toward a better and prosperous country for generations to come.

Bongani Hlatshwayo

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