Today, the African National Congress joins the rest of the patriotic and peace loving people of South Africa in observing Human Rights Day under the theme: "100 Years of Nelson Mandela: Promoting and deepening a human rights culture across society".
Every year on this day we remember the tragic events of 1960 that saw 69 South Africans brutally murdered and over 200 injured by the apartheid regime for demonstrating against pass laws.
21 March 1960 marked a pivotal moment in the struggle for liberation that was to shift the future trajectory of this country and put it on a path towards freedom.
This day further gives us a moment to reflect on the sacrifices made by many men and women who came before us and paid the ultimate price to ensure that today we are able to enjoy the fundamental rights as enshrined in our Constitution.
At its 54th National Conference, the African National Congress reaffirmed its commitment to building a united, democratic, non-racial, non-sexist and prosperous society where all citizens enjoy equal rights.
Through the policy resolutions adopted at conference, in particular those aimed at ensuring radical economic transformation, we underscored the need to accelerate government programmes aimed at addressing poverty, inequality and unemployment.
In this the centenary year of Cde Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, let us remember his words as he said: "Overcoming poverty is not a gesture of charity. It is an act of justice; it is the protection of a fundamental human right, the right to dignity and a decent life... "
This must compel us to work together in ensuring that we promote and protect the rights of all citizens and eradicate all forms of oppression and discrimination. This includes the protection of the rights of workers in furthernance of human rights. Of necessity, this means decent working conditions, decent pay and where applicable pay progression and the fasttracking of the implementation of the National Minimum Wage.
The ANC continues to stand against all forms of discrimination and calls on the rest of society to protect and promote the rights of others regardless of their sexual orientation, race, gender and greed. Amongst these, we must protect the rights of people living with albinism who form part of the marginalized and vulnerable sections of our society. The ANC condemns any act of violence or other forms of discrimination against them.
Access to decent basic services is a fundamental human right and as such services to the masses of our people, many of whom are indigent, should never be halted for expediency. As we mark this historic day therefore, we call on government to redouble its efforts to improve the lives of our people.
As we celebrate Human Rights Day, let us draw inspiration from Cde Nelson Mandela, who selected to sign into law the country's constitution in Sharpeville thus affirming our commitment to work together to overcome the challenges we face and restore the dignity of all South Africans. We must use our hard won right to vote to define our shared future in honour those who fought for us to be afforded an opportunity to enjoy the full bill of rights. As we celebrate, let us use this day to ensure that their sacrifices were not in vain
Issued by the African National Congress
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