30 years of hope and change

By Mawande Ndongeni

South Africa has made significant strides since achieving freedom 30 years ago, thanks to its human rights-driven constitutional dispensation. This has translated into sound governance and impactful programmes that improve citizens' lives.

To those born after 1994 the impact and meaning of our democracy is very different to those who lived during apartheid and through the democratic change. Life as we now know it was very different prior to 1994, and things we now take for granted were only provided to a select few.

For example, the range of social programmes and services which have been implemented, such as family planning, and pre and post-natal care interventions have resulted in a notable decrease in infant mortality. Our funding in education has changed lives and brought hope and prosperity. While we can easily quantify the number of people who have benefited from these services, it is impossible to measure the profound impact these programmes have had on ordinary people.

On the international front, our nation is committed to improve humanity and the lives of people. We are renowned for our diplomatic endeavours in resolving disputes through dialogue, as well as our participation in peacekeeping missions. Furthermore, South Africa has extended aid and assistance to those affected by natural disasters and unforeseen events around the globe.

Despite our many successes since 1994 we are not immune to the challenges faced in the world. The country is currently grappling with economic hardships caused by the rapidly changing geopolitical landscape and armed conflicts that have impacted global trade and economies across the world. Despite these setbacks, South Africa remains committed to finding long-term solutions and securing a brighter future for future generations and improved relations with its international partners.

In terms of economic trade, South Africa achieved a momentous feat in 2024 by successfully sending its first shipment of products under the African Continental Free Trade Area. This historic agreement has established the most extensive free trade region in the world and is a significant step towards achieving Agenda 2063.

The potential of South African goods and services reaching a market of over one billion individuals is enormous and could revolutionise the economic landscape for South Africans, across the continent and the world. From raw and unprocessed resources to advanced and contemporary products and services, this is a crucial catalyst for South Africa's growth and progress.

Our journey since 1994 has proved that we are a nation that inspires hope for a better tomorrow.   We value our people, and we strive for equal opportunities, prosperity and individual dignity. We have zero tolerance for discrimination, sexism, racism, and state-sponsored violence, things that were a norm in the past. Our unique experiences and diversity make us stronger as we work to build and fortify our nation.