Human Rights Day. Is it justified to celebrate this day?
One of the founding provisions of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa is human dignity, the achievement of equality and the advancement of human rights and freedoms.
We therefore ask if this provision is realized or perceived. This question is obviously posed in a post democracy South Africa and 23 years after the attainment of freedom except economic freedom which we still have a long way to attain. In post apartheid South Africa why do we still grapple with the issues of economical inequalities, why are certain sectors of society considered supreme to others? We must not deceive ourselves under the illusion that we have attained full freedom and human rights as provided by the Constitution of the Republic; we are far from attaining these constitutional imperatives. Freedom can never be celebrated while we are still confronted with reports of our kids loosing their very lives in improper pit toilets, not once but twice, thrice or more; some of the incidents relating to the loss of life due to improper toilet structures may have gone under our radar unreported.
How can we celebrate human rights when our people get shot for peaceful protests? Peaceful protest is enshrined in our lovely Constitution but every time our people do so they are either killed or injured by the police; while they are fighting and advocating the very human rights we ought to celebrate. It is one thing commemorating the day and the other celebrating it; before we can celebrate the day and all those who were wiped off from our midst by the evil hand of apartheid, we first have to make sure that we advance the constitutional imperatives of human dignity, freedoms, equality and human rights.
At the moment there is a national discourse in regards to land expropriation; this matter is very much inevitable and cannot be avoided any longer. Twenty three years into democracy the issue has now become more urgent than ever before, it must be dealt with to logical conclusions. The Republican Democrats believe as provided by the Constitution that property ownership is a right; do South Africans who have been marginalized for a long time have ownership to strategic and productive land? The answer is “only a few elite in the category of BEE beneficiaries and the wealthy do own a fraction of the total sum of land”. The next question is whether foreigners own land in South Africa? Yes foreigners own land in South Africa and this cannot and must not be allowed. In terms of Section 20 of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996; “no citizen may be deprived of citizenship”. Citizenship goes with property ownership; it goes with human dignity and provision of the rights such as the right to adequate housing. The Republican Democrats believe that the first departure point in expropriating land should be taking stock of all foreign owned land and expropriate it for the benefit of citizens of the Republic of South Africa. Secondly there also has to be quotas in terms of the extent of land one can own, anything in excess must be subject to expropriation; aligned to this there has to be minimum thresholds of newly allocated land in the townships and informal settlements. The current trend of allocating small pieces of land to our people by our very municipalities is an insult of epic proportions to our people particularly the previously disadvantaged. Allocation of land must resonate with the advancement of the dignity of our people as well as do away with inequality.
Pursuant to these and other issues we have not raised we challenge all South Africans regardless their colour, creed, class and gender to do a praxis in terms of human rights – particularly the right to property ownership; and truly reflect on the status quo and see where and how we can collectively mend the situation for the benefit of all citizens.
The journey to realization of full human rights is far from over – “Not yet uhuru”