By Surihe Gaomas WINDHOEK South Africa last week Thursday (27th April) marked its 12th Freedom Day anniversary amidst a lot of challenges such as unemployment, crime, poverty and corruption. However, despite these challenges, it has enjoyed a stable democracy 12 years after the demise of apartheid in the historic 1994 first democratic elections. In a televised Freedom Day speech South African President Thabo Mbeki said: “In the past 12 years our country has experienced a stable democracy… freedom, a growing economy and a steady progress to building a better life for all.” Mbeki said his government still has a lot of work to do to ensure decent living standards for its population. The South African High Commission in Namibia held a function to mark the country’s freedom day at a local resort outside Windhoek. The occasion was also a gesture to reflect on the hard won freedom and progress it has made in economic development. At the event held last week, close to 500 dignitaries, government officials and business leaders attended the 12th Freedom Day of the Republic of South Africa. Considered as the most highly regarded day in the history of the country’s independence, hundreds of South Africans praised the solid democratic rule of the country ever since the first democratic elections. Addressing the audience, South African High Commissioner to Namibia Timothy Maseko said since the advent of democratic rule, the South African government has made tremendous strides in maintaining a culturally unified nation against apartheid. “Never again has apartheid reared it ugly head in South Africa and we have changed dramatically for the better,” said the High Commissioner. “We are all acknowledging our tragic past and our cultural diversity is now the binding glue,” he added. Like most African countries, South Africa is also facing the challenges of unemployment, HIV/Aids, provision of education, access to clean potable water and provision to basic electricity for its growing population. However, it is worthy to note that despite these challenges the nation has enjoyed peace and political stability for the past 12 years. So far N$19,2-billion has been allocated for education in order to ensure a brighter future for the people of that country. At the same occasion, guest speaker Minister of Foreign Affairs Marco Hausiku said South Africa must forge ahead with the process of democrati-tisation and accelerated growth. In the same vein the minister also extended a word of congratulations to the southern neighbour, adding that this further enhances the already good bilateral relations between the two countries. “Namibia fully supports your government’s initiatives such as the Accelerated and Shared Growth Initiative of South Africa (ASGISA), which is in line with the United Nations Millennium Development Goals that aim to half poverty by 2015,” said Minister Hausiku. Over the years South Africa has been able to maintain a significant level of macro-economic stability while playing an important role as the biggest economy in Southern Africa. In this light, the Economic Bilateral Agreement signed between Namibia and South Africa serves to strengthen the already existing political and economic ties. Minister Hausiku concluded that it is only through such collaboration that the region will be able to address the burning challenges of unemployment, poverty and HIV/Aids.
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