Reconciliation Day is a moment to reflect on how far South Africa has come to build a nation that is united in its diversity and determined to forge a common national identity. The African National Congress salutes the people of South Africa for their common determination to overcome the deeply entrenched divisions of the past in pursuit of a country that genuinely belongs to all.
This day provides us with an opportunity to reflect on the progress made in healing the wounds of the past and advancing our collective desire for a peaceful and harmonious nation of equals. On this day, the ANC reaffirms our collective commitment to foster reconciliation and build national unity.
The ANC congratulates the people of South Africa for their steadfast determination since the 1994 breakthrough to foster reconciliation and nation building.
The ANC has always maintained that nation building must be about the total isolation of any forms of racism, tribalism and ethnic chauvinism – envisioning a society where we can all belong as equals.
As a movement, we celebrate Reconciliation Day fully aware of the long road we have yet to traverse to build a truly non-racial, non-sexist and united South Africa. We must therefore, as we continue to pursue our objective of national reconciliation, work even harder to tackle the divisions that persist in society.
On this day, we pay tribute to the many brave and fearless South Africans who confronted the evil and divisive system of apartheid and colonialism during many centuries of the struggle against oppression, subjugation and exploitation. In particular, we pay tribute to Umkhonto we Sizwe, the people’s army, which was formed 58 years ago on 16 December 1961. On this occasion, we recall the difficult and courageous decision to launch an armed struggle against the repressive machinery of the apartheid state:
“The time comes in the life of any nation when there remain only two choices: submit or fight. That time has now come to South Africa. We shall not submit and we have no choice but to hit back by all means within our power in defence of our people, our future and our freedom” (Manifesto of Umkhonto we Sizwe).
Umkhonto we Sizwe waged a brave and relentless struggle over many decades for the liberation of South Africa as well as for peace, justice and reconciliation among its people. As we celebrate this important day, we also commemorate the passing of the first Commander-in-Chief of Umkhonto we Sizwe and a passionate advocate of reconciliation, Comrade Nelson Mandela whose brave heart ceased to beat on the 5th of December 2013.
As we seek to build a new nation and to promote reconciliation, we do so, cognisant of the reality that without justice and economic freedom, we are unlikely to achieve sustainable reconciliation and lasting national unity. In this regard, the ANC urges all South Africans to work unceasingly to achieve radical economic transformation and expropriation of land without compensation.
True nation building must be embodied by total isolation of any forms of racism, tribalism and ethnic chauvinism.
National reconciliation must, of necessity, seek to improve the economic situation of the majority of all South Africans. True reconciliation requires an acknowledgement of the historical injustices of the past. We reiterate that, as a nation, we need to heal the economic wounds in our society as an integral part of healing the social, cultural and psychological wounds inflicted on our people.
We must also fight gender-based violence with every weapon at our disposal. This scourge makes women to live in fear and thus unable to become full and productive citizens that must contribute towards building a new and prosperous nation. It is only when all our people have the opportunity to taste the fruits of our democracy, that we can say South Africa truly belongs to all. The ANC therefore calls on all South Africans to work together to help undo the legacy of our ugly past.
The call to action is to recommit ourselves to work with renewed vigour and determination to build a society founded on the principle enshrined in the Freedom Charter: “South Africa belongs to all who live in it, black and white”.
ISSUED BY THE AFRICAN NATIONAL CONGRESS
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