Divided South Africa commemorates 1994 all-race elections

A deeply divided South Africa recently commemorated the 22nd anniversary of the country’s historic first all-race elections when Nelson Mandela was swept into power on a ticket of racial reconciliation.

The yearly event is commemorated as Freedom Day with an annual national public holiday which sees millions of South Africans celebrating the end of apartheid. However, this year’s celebrations were marred by many people using public rallies to call for the removal of President Jacob Zuma following a series of high-profile scandals. Anti-Zuma marches were held in Cape Town, Johannesburg and other cities.

Former African National Congress leader Mathews Phosa said Zuma must take responsibility for his mistakes and step down. Zuma, who addressed thousands of people in Giyani, Limpopo, addressed the racial divisions in the country by saying whites cannot continue to dominate the economy.

“For freedom to be complete, the economy of our country must not be skewed along racial lines. We must give practical meaning to the demand of the Freedom Charter that all shall share in the country’s wealth,” Zuma said. He added that his government will continue to implement black economic empowerment programmes, as well as affirmative action programmes. Mmusi Maimane, the leader of the official opposition Democratic Alliance, told a rally in Zandspruit, near Johannesburg, that the liberation movement that became the party of government “took their foot off the accelerator once this political freedom had been achieved, and we have been coasting slower and slower ever since.”