Tuesday, April 29, 2014

South Africa Now a Better Place, Says Zuma
Republic of South Africa President Jacob Zuma stands for re-election on May 7, 2014.
April 28, 2014

PRETORIA. — South Africa had vastly improved over the past 20 years, building a buoyant economy, deepening democracy and combating crime and corruption, President Jacob Zuma said yesterday. “We have done well on all of these pillars in the past 20 years. We have moved closer to our cherished dream of a united non-racial, non-sexist and democratic South Africa,” he said at the Union Buildings in Pretoria.

“President Mandela introduced free health care for pregnant women to ensure that South African children are born healthy, as one of the benefits of freedom.

“We are continuing with his legacy by continuing to invest in children.”

President Zuma said government now spent billions of rands on early childhood development centres and subsidising fees for poor households.

Millions of children received meals at school and also social grants from government, said President Zuma.

“More than 11 million orphans and vulnerable children benefit from social grants to ensure that poverty in their homes does not disadvantage them and destroy their future,” said Zuma.

“Our plan is that by 2030, South Africa should have a comprehensive system of social protection that includes social security grants, mandatory retirement savings, risk benefits such as unemployment, death and disability and vulnerable retirement savings.”

He said the matric examination pass rate had been steadily increasing, coupled with “phenomenal expansion” of enrolment of students into institutions of higher learning.

President Zuma was addressing South Africa’s annual Freedom Day celebrations at the Union Buildings.

His arrival was followed by a 20-gun salute and aerial displays by the Silver Falcons of the SA Air Force.

This year’s celebrations are being held under the theme “South Africa — a better place to live in”.

President Zuma also called on South Africans to vote peacefully during the upcoming May 7 national elections.

“The precious right to vote was gained through relentless struggles and sacrifices. On the 7th of May, let us go out in our millions to vote and celebrate our hard won freedom and democracy,” he said at the Union Buildings in Pretoria.

“Let us vote to consolidate democracy and all the achievements of our young nation. As we did in 1994 and in subsequent elections, let us deliver peaceful, free and fair elections.”

He said the country had made significant strides in alleviating poverty, reducing crime and fostering racial unity, since the dawn of democracy in 1994.

“South Africans have a good story to tell regarding the fight against crime, thanks to hard work by our police service assisted by communities.

“Since 1994, the levels of serious crime and property crime have declined. But we are not complacent. Work continues to build even safer communities,” said Zuma.

His administration was still concerned that crime levels, particularly offences against vulnerable groups such as women and children, were still rampant.

On the education front, Zuma said significant goals had been scored since 1994.

“Government spends R1.3 billion on early childhood development centres, subsidising these centres and also subsidising fees of children from poor households.

“Government pays R15 per day per child from poor households to prepare them for primary education and for the rest of the schooling years.”

Such an investment in education, Zuma said, was aimed at ensuring that children would not be disadvantaged by poverty from accessing education.

The matric examination pass rate had been steadily increasing, coupled with “phenomenal expansion” of enrolment of students into institutions of higher learning.

President Zuma said the fall of apartheid had ushered in a new era, characterised by “hope for a better country” by all South Africans.

— Sapa.

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