Celebrating 25 years of democracy | Western Cape Government

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Celebrating 25 years of democracy

On 27 April 1994, all South Africans had a taste of freedom and democracy. On this day the first post-apartheid national elections, where anyone could vote regardless of race, was held in South Africa. Man waving the South African flag on Freedom Day.

The elections saw Nelson Mandela elected as President. Since then, South Africans have had 4 free and fair national elections.

Freedom Day is a day to celebrate our achievements and reflect on our successes during the 25 years of freedom and democracy. At the same time, it also serves as a reminder of the struggle and fight for a just and democratic society we all enjoy today.

This year as we prepare for the general elections on 8 May 2019, Freedom Day celebrations serve to remind us of our hard-won freedom to vote for a democratically elected leader and how important it is to exercise this right.

The right to vote is a fundamental right enshrined in the Bill of Rights. Government encourages all South Africans to continue to fight the legacy of racism and economic inequality and renew their commitment to strengthen the legitimacy of our democracy.

My FreedomMartha Ahmed

Martha Ahmed, who was 41 years old when she could vote for the first time in 1994, recalls her experience.  
“The memory will never be forgotten. The atmosphere was electrifying and full of suspense,” she said.
“We didn’t mind waiting in the long queues to vote because everybody was excited about the future. Although we expected some sort of violence to erupt, the day turned out to be peaceful and pleasant.” 

She says the biggest change she's experienced in these 25 years is having the opportunity to experience the full beauty of our country without conditions or limitations. 

"Seeing the 'Whites Only' signs being removed changed mine and my family's life.  Now we can get into any mode of transport, go to any restaurant, beach, hospital or area withthout any restrictions," she added.

"My children experienced a better life and I definitely foresee a brighter future for my grandchildren especially where education is concerned."

Join the conversation on social media and share your messages, memories or reflections of these 25 Years of Freedom and Democracy using the hashtags #FreedomMonth and the #MyFreedomSA

The content on this page was last updated on 23 April 2019