4 April 2009, Pretoria City Hall
Gauteng Premier Paul Mashatile,
Executive Mayor of Tshwane Metro Dr Gwen Ramokgopa and all councillors,
ANC NEC Members,
Provincial leadership of the ANC,
The Mahlangu family and families of other MK heroes,
MKMVA leadership and all veterans of our broad movement,
Comrades and friends,
Ladies and gentlemen,
We are gathered here this evening to mark one of the most solemn chapters in the history of our national liberation struggle - the execution of Solomon Mahlangu, 30 years ago, by the apartheid regime.
Let me start by extending our heartfelt condolences on the loss of Cde Solomon Mahlangu`s sister who was buried this morning.
May God give the family strength to confront this hardship.
We acknowledge the presence here tonight of the families of fallen cadres of uMkhonto we Sizwe, including the family of a member of the command structure of MK and outstanding leader of the ANC, comrade Chris Hani.
We are also with the families of:
The execution of Cde Solomon Mahlangu and others before and after him is solemn in many ways.
We are privileged this evening to be celebrating their glorious lives served in struggle and to free their country from bondage.
Cde Kalushi`s last words to his beloved mother, as he faced the hangman`s noose on that fateful day of the 6th April 1979, were an epitome of sacrifice. "My blood will nourish the tree that will bear the fruits of freedom. Tell my people that I love them and that they must continue the struggle".
Nothing can better describe the valour, courage and the spirit of no surrender, characteristic of the cadres of uMkhonto we Sizwe. Nothing can express in such a categorical manner the determination of a people to free themselves.
To the Mahlangu family and all families of our cadres, we shall forever be grateful to you for having begotten us liberators who today serve as shining examples of cadres of Umkhonto we Sizwe.
Please take comfort and solace in the fact that you are a part of a very proud history of resistance that spans more than 300 hundred years.
This year we mark the anniversary of several such milestones in our struggle:
These indicate the 300 years of struggle of a people determined to be free. The tree of freedom for which Solomon Mahlangu paid the supreme price, has been growing for the past fifteen years.
On the 27th of April, South Africa will celebrate 15 years since the dawn of democracy in our country.
We the living, who are the custodians of the collective memory of our fallen comrades, can, with certainty, say that our people are enjoying the fruits from this tree of freedom.
Fifteen years is a long time indeed, in the life of a mortal. But for a history of a people, 15 years is relatively a short period. Yet it is in these past 15 years that the lives of our people have undergone dramatic changes for the better.
Our people now have running water, the roads, schools, health facilities, social support services, telecommunications and many other improvements in the lives that some may take for granted today.
The service delivery is a result of our standing commitment to realise the ideals for which Solomon Mahlangu and many of our fallen heroes and heroines sacrificed their lives.
We can now say with certainty that our people are enjoying the fruits from this tree of freedom.
We admit that much more still needs to be done, and are going to work with our people to do more to achieve a better life for all. For the next five years, we want to focus on five areas in which we want to make a visible difference.
These are: education, health, rural development and land reform, creating decent jobs and the fight against crime.
The meaning of freedom that Solomon Mahlangu represents cannot be confined to the right to vote and politics only. Freedom cannot be complete until it also means economic freedom.
Our economic transformation policies, such as the Broad-based Black Economic Empowerment and Affirmative Action policies will continue to enable the majority of our people to enter the mainstream of the economy. They must participate not only as workers, but as owners and controllers of economic resources.
Our sound economic policies and ability to work with all stakeholders such as business, labour and our people will enable us to survive the global economic crisis. We have asked business and labour to work closely together to ensure that we minimize job losses.
It should be possible to cut costs without going for retrenchments as a first resort.
Ladies and gentlemen, freedom also means freedom from fear. We have a plan to ensure that we fight decisively against crime. We will use all means at our disposal to rid our country of this evil, including the revamp the criminal-justice system.
We call on all South Africans to join our efforts and take an active part in the fight against crime in our communities, including the formation of street committees.
Ladies and gentlemen, our fallen comrades were dedicated to serving their people. Were they alive today, they would be actively working to consolidate the gains of our liberation since 1994.
They would be part of plans to develop our rural areas to make them thriving economic and social hubs where our people live in dignity.
They would be ensuring that there are roads, electricity, water, easy access to shops, schools and clinics and many other services in our rural areas.
Another critical task is to ensure access to quality schooling and further education and training for all. We are planning to create greater opportunities for our youth to develop themselves and contribute to economic growth of the country.
Access to quality healthcare is another pressing priority. We have spoken about the planned establishment of a National Health Insurance system which will expand access to quality health care for all, not only privileged middle class people with medical aid.
The NHI will be free at the point of delivery and ability to pay will not be a pre-requisite for treatment.
In his quest for the freedom of our people, Cde Solomon Mahlangu and all our cadres would have been driven by the characteristic of true cadres of the ANC to serve the people!
Through them, our leaders must remember that service and sacrifice should be the hallmark of leadership, especially as we head towards elections. All our leaders should put our people first in service delivery.
We should aim at providing an efficient service to our people regardless of who they are, and where they are.
We have emphasized that we will not tolerate laziness in the new administration, and public servants as well as public representatives should be prepared to work hard.
Comrades and friends, nation building continues to be a top priority in our country.
The Freedom Charter and our country`s Constitution state clearly that South Africa belongs to all who live in it, black and white.
We fought for a society in which all people would be afforded equal rights and be of equal worth. We remain fully committed to this ideal.
I am aware that some white compatriots have raised concerns about remarks I made on Thursday the 2nd of April that Afrikaners have a deep-rooted affinity for the country as they have no other country outside South Africa that they can call home. We also referred to the outstanding contribution of Afrikaners to the development of the country and reconciliation.
This did not in any way mean that other white South Africans are not loyal or patriotic to the country, or that their contribution to this country is being questioned.
All South Africans have equal claim to this country, and have contributed to making this country the success it has been in the last 15 years.
We appreciate the role of Afrikaners in the same way that we have praised other minority groups be it the Jewish community, Hellenic, Portuguese, Italian, Indian or Coloured communities. We have met with all these communities at different stages and voiced our appreciation of their role and contribution.
Our country derives enormous value from our collective wisdom and collective strength as South Africans, united in our diversity.
We will continue to work together, all of us, black and white, English speaking or Afrikaans speaking, to build an even more prosperous, non-racial and united South Africa.
Let me use this opportunity to extend our heartfelt condolences to the family of the Deputy President of Cosatu, Cde Violet Seboni who passed on yesterday in a car accident. May her soul rest in peace and we wish the family strength during this difficult period.
Ladies and gentlemen, may the life of Cde Solomon Mahlangu and those of all our fallen comrades inspire all of us to be as selfless and as dedicated to this country as they were.
In their memory, we urge all compatriots to come out in great numbers to vote on the 22nd of April, to ensure that we take the transformation and development of our country to greater heights.
I thank you.