Freedom Day celebrated in Havana, Cuba
Ambassador Naphtal Manana giving a keynote address to the diplomatic community and distinguished guests
Officials and local recruits of the South African Embassy in Havana, Cuba
Remarks Ambassador Naphtal Manana on Freedom Day
Senior members of the Communist Party of Cuba;
Senior members of the Cuban Government;
Dean of the Diplomatic Corp;
Representative of Civil Society Organisations;
Ladies and Gentlemen
The 19th celebration of freedom in our country takes place few months after the successful conclusion of the elections in our host country, Cuba. We take this opportunity to congratulate President Raul Castro, Honourable Lazo and other members for their appointments to lead Cuba. We would like to assure President Castro and his government that the South African Government would continue to partner with your government as we jointly seek to create a better life for our citizens.
Again, our celebration this year takes place at the wake of the passing of one of the world’s key leaders, President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela. We join the peoples’ of Venezuela, the peoples of the Latin America and the rest of the world in mourning the passing of President Chavez, and wish the people and the government of Venezuela all of the best following the successful holding of the 14 April 2013 elections.
Our Government has declared the month of April as Freedom Month and this year’s events are celebrated under the national theme: “Mobilising Society Towards Consolidating Democracy and Freedom”. It is in this context that we are gathered here tonight to celebrate one of the key milestones in the political history of our country – the Freedom Day. In Cuba, the celebration of our hard-earned freedom started with the events we co-hosted with the Africa House on 16 and 20 April. Yesterday, we were joined by the Institute of Peoples’ Friendship (ICAP) which took the Mission to one of the key Cuban scientific research centres. The celebration of our freedom We do this by recalling the historic occasion in 1994 when South Africa achieved democracy, where all its citizens became free from the discrimination and oppression. The first democratic elections were held in South Africa on 27 April 1994. It marked the dawn of a new phase of building a South Africa that truly belongs to all who live in it.
It is a day that represents peace, unity, and the restoration of human dignity of all South Africans. It is a reminder of the countless sacrifices made by courageous men and women of South Africa and from various parts of the world, including from the majority of the countries and organisations represented here tonight, in the realisation of a free, democratic country we now live in. It also gives us courage to jointly affirm that we will endeavour to ensure that no one will ever take our hard won freedom for granted. As a nation we are grateful of the contribution of the countries from all regions of the world, including the America and the Caribbean for fighting side-by-side with us until the demise of the ugly face of apartheid. As a Mission we also like to acknowledge specifically the contribution of Cuba in our country’s liberation.
South Africa has taken many strides away from its past of exclusion and discrimination on the basis of sex, colour and creed. The country has been steadily moving forward in a direction that reasserts our humanity. In this march towards humanity, a new culture of human rights and a respect for the dignity of the human spirit have become characteristics of South Africa. All these have been undertaken with a view to adopt practical actions in the eradication of poverty and underdevelopment, especially among the historically marginalised groups. Some of the milestones include, among others, the following:
• Increased access to water, electricity, sanitation and housing;
• Increased in the number of households that had access to piped water
• Increased proportion of households that have flush toilets connected to the sewage system; and
• Increased in the number of households with access to electricity.
We have risen from the ashes of apartheid and stand proud on the world stage, our voice and presence is keenly felt at institutions such as the United Nations. We continue to call for the creation of an equitable, representative and democratic system of global governance, and support global collective efforts intended to advance development for the benefit of all humanity. To this end, we continue to support efforts intended to consolidate democracy, peace and stability in all parts of the world, and we do so cognisant of respecting the sovereignty of states and adhering to international law.
On our Mother Continent, Africa, We continue to work together with all countries under the African Union (AU) in adopting programmes intended to ensure sustainable development in our various countries and regions, including through collaborative actions with the diaspora and other external partners.
In conclusion, if we are to succeed in creating a better world for all citizens in nations, big and small, we could only achieve that by ensuring our peaceful and mutual coexistence, and redirecting our resources and energies in the advancement of humanity.
SA Embaasy Havana, Cuba