South Africans told to be champions of democracy ……”

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Twenty four years ago, on 27 April 1994, South Africa marked the historic transition from apartheid state to a democratic country whose constitution grants equal rights to all, a free society headed by the late President Nelson Mandela was ushered in, and the day was christened Freedom Day.

As the people of South Africa celebrate the 24 anniversary of the Freedom Day, they will in addition be marking the centenary anniversary of President Nelson Mandela’s birthday. 

This was disclosed by the country’s Ambassador to Switzerland Ms. Sankie Mthembi-Mahanyele in her address at the reception organised by the embassy to mark the 24th anniversary of the Freedom Day in Berne, Switzerland.

“In South Africa, we will therefore be spending the year celebrating the life and legacy of democratic South Africa’s first President under the theme: “Be the legacy”, she added.

Ambassador Mthembi-Mahanyele reminded the South Africans about the solidarity and assistance the country received from the international community to achieve freedom, thus enjoined them to be “champions of democracy, peace and human rights in the world.”

On the progress and development in South Africa, the ambassador explained that since 1994 “through our democratic constitution and progressive laws, and through a concerted programme of social and economic redress, we have made great progress in transforming our country.”

She added that efforts are being made to improve on the country’s economy, to make it more competitive and attractive to investors, particularly those with the greatest potential for job creation.

Though there has been significant improvement in the lives of women, and the youth through education and empowerment, they are still “priority areas for further improvement.”

Switzerland, she said, is a proven and valued partner, and the two countries will continue to “celebrate the excellent bilateral relations” between them based on political relations, trade, investment, and continued development cooperation. 

In her own address, Swiss Ambassador Anne Lugon-Moulin commenting on the centenary of President Nelson Mandela’s birth said he “is and remains a leading example for the freedom of every man and women, and a beacon for equality, solidarity and peace – in South Africa, Switzerland and around the world. His legacy, she added, is the basis for modern-day South Africa, with its vibrant and dynamic society.

She then affirmed that South Africa is among the strategic partners of Switzerland, with strong trade and investments ties. Fruitful partnerships, she said, have been established in the last years in the field of research and science, among top universities and academic institutes.

These include:

  • the Swiss-South Africa bilateral research chair in the field of environmental and global health and
  • the Antarctic Circumnavigation Expedition, the first project of the Swiss Polar Institute, developed with the University of Cape Town.


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