Fellow South Africans,
We gather here at the start of the 6th Democratic Parliament, 106 years to the day after the Natives Land Act – one of the most devastating acts of dispossession, pain and humiliation – came into force.
We recall the words of Sol Plaatje on that tragic event, when he said:
“Awakening on Friday morning, June 20, 1913, the South African native found himself, not actually a slave, but a pariah in the land of his birth.”
Our people suffered gravely and endured untold hardships as a result of the implementation of the Natives Land Act. The effect of that law are still present with us.
More than a century after that grave injustice, we are called upon to forge a South Africa where no person will be slave or pariah, only free and equal and respected.
We gather here at an extremely difficult and challenging time in the life of our young democracy.
Yet, we are also at a moment in our history that holds great hope and promise.
In 25 years of democracy we have made remarkable progress in building a new nation in which all South Africans have equal rights and broadening opportunities.
Over 25 years, we have done much to meet people’s basic needs, to reduce poverty and to transform a devastated economy that was built to serve the interests of the few.
Working together, we have laid a firm foundation on which we can build a country
in which all may know peace and comfort and contentment.
Yet, we also meet at a