30 years since the end of apartheid.South Africa’s celebrations come against a backdrop of growing discontent

PRETORIA, South Africa (AP) — South Africa is celebrating its 30th anniversary. end of apartheid A ceremony in the capital on Saturday included a 21-gun salute and the waving of colorful national flags, marking the birth of democracy.

However, all the feelings of celebrating this important anniversary had the opposite effect. growing dissatisfaction With the current government.

president cyril ramaphosa As head of state, he presided over a gathering in a giant white tent in the gardens of Pretoria’s government building.

He also spoke as leader of the African National Congress Party. liberate South Africa’s black majority From a system of racist oppression that has made the country a pariah for nearly half a century.

ANC It has been in power since April 27, 1994, the first democratic all-race election, the vote that officially ended apartheid.

But the Freedom Day holiday commemorating that day was held against a painful backdrop. Analysts and opinion polls predict that the party that once led is losing popularity. nelson mandela It is likely that we will lose our parliamentary majority for the first time, with a new generation of South Africans making their voices heard in the future. Most important election since 1994 next month.

“Few days in our country’s lives can compare to the day freedom was born,” Ramaphosa said in his speech, recalling the year 1994 when the once-banned ANC first allowed black people to vote. Mainly discussed. Upon assuming power, Mandela became the country’s first black president. “South Africa has changed forever. It marked the beginning of a new chapter in our country’s history, and it was a moment that resonated across Africa and around the world.”

“Dignity was restored for all South Africans that day,” Ramaphosa said.

Standing in front of a banner emblazoned with the word “freedom”, the president recognized the huge problems South Africa still faces 30 years later. huge poverty Mr Ramaphosa admitted there had been a “setback”.

The 1994 elections transformed South Africa from a country where blacks and other non-whites were denied not only the right to vote but most basic freedoms. Laws regulated where they could live, where they were allowed to go on certain days, and what jobs they could hold. After the fall of apartheid, a constitution was adopted that guaranteed the rights of all South Africans, regardless of race, religion, gender or sexuality.

However, this has not significantly improved the lives of millions of people, and South Africa’s black majority, which makes up more than 80% of its 62 million people, remains overwhelmingly affected by severe poverty. .

of official unemployment rate More than 16 million South Africans, 25% of the population, rely on monthly welfare grants to survive.

According to the World Bank, South Africa remains the world’s most unequal country in terms of wealth distribution, with race a key factor.

While it remains difficult to undo the damage caused by apartheid, the ANC is increasingly being blamed for South Africa’s current problems.

In the week leading up to this anniversary, countless South Africans asked what 30 years of freedom from apartheid meant to them. The dominant response was that 1994 was a landmark moment, but now it is overshadowed by unemployment. violent crime, corruption And on the verge of collapse Basic service Like electricity and water that will plague South Africa in 2024.

It is also distressing that many South Africans who have never experienced apartheid and are known as the “born free” are old enough to vote.

Outside the tent where Mr Ramaphosa spoke to mainly dignitaries and politicians, a group of young black South Africans born after 1994 and supporting a new political party called Rise Mzansi chanted, “2024 is our 1994.” He was wearing a T-shirt that read ” Their message was that they were looking beyond the ANC and wanted new changes for their future in next month’s elections.

“They don’t know what happened before 1994. They don’t know,” says Seth Mazibuko, a senior supporter of Rise Mzansi and a well-known anti-apartheid activist in the 1970s. .

“Let’s agree that we have failed,” said Mazibuko, who continues to have the direct impact of the world’s second-worst youth unemployment rate after Djibouti on the young people behind him over the past 30 years. Talked about the year.

He added, “Next month’s election presents a new opportunity.”

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Gerald Imray reported from Cape Town.

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AP Africa News: https://apnews.com/hub/Africa

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