Address by President Jacob Zuma to the Indian community Mount Edgecombe, Durban, KwaZulu-Natal, 18 April 2014

The Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development, Mr Jeff Radebe,

ANC Provincial and regional Leadership present,

The Treasurer-General of SANCO, Mr Roy Moodley,

Brothers and sisters,

Fellow South Africans,

I greet you all on this blessed day, Good Friday. Millions of our people have congregated in many parts of the country to worship, reflect and rededicate themselves to their faith during this Easter weekend.

Easter is a period of promoting love, peace, reconciliation and unity.

We trust and appeal that these values remain paramount and uppermost in the minds of all South Africans during this holy weekend for all Christians around the country.

It should be uppermost even in the minds of non-Christians, as we reflect on our country as we mark 20 years of freedom and democracy this year. It is an important year for our country.

We have a good story to tell. Our country is a much better place to live in now than it was before 1994.

For that we are thankful to millions of South Africans for working with the ANC and its government, to bring about the change and transformation we see today.

As we pray during this Easter weekend and express our gratitude for the freedom and justice we gained in 1994, we also pay tribute to some of the most outstanding sons of our people who fearlessly and selflessly fought for the freedom which enjoy today.

These include Chief Albert Luthuli, Nelson Mandela, Oliver Reginald Tambo, Rahima Moosa, Dr Yusuf Dadoo and Dr Monty Naicker to mention but a few.

Being in this province we cannot but also pay tribute to the earlier generation such as John Dube and Mahatma Gandhi.

The strength and uniqueness of our country and of the ANC is its non-racial character.

We pride ourselves of our track record of non-racialism.

It is genuine and is tried and tested. Our non-racialism and in particular the unity of the oppressed, was inevitable, given that during our struggle for liberation, Indians, Coloureds and Africans as black people shared a common fate.

The liberation of one group was inextricably linked to that of the other.

In other words, in the context of the struggle for freedom, Indian people just like the Coloured people, have always been part of the oppressed black majority.

Therefore, the Indian community has never been mere auxiliaries in the struggle for freedom as may be suggested by some whose sole intention is to divide the black majority for political expediency.

I am giving this brief background in order for all of us to understand the social basis that informs all our post-apartheid policy formulations and perspectives.

When we conceptualize policies such as Affirmative Action, Broad Based Black Economic Empowerment, Employment Equity Act and others, we proceed from the understanding that we need to correct the injustices of the past meted out against Africans, Indians, Coloureds and women.

Since the inception of democracy in 1994, we have implemented policies whose main objectives are to create jobs, eliminate poverty and reduce inequality.

The ANC government will in the next five years relentlessly pursue these policies in order to ensure that our economy truly reflects the demographics of our country.

Whilst we have made progress on this front, much more remains to be done as indicated by the recent report released by the Commission for Employment Equity which showed that representation of black people in top management positions has only grown from 23.7% to 33.2% over the last ten years.

The ANC is the only movement with the necessary commitment, experience and capacity to resolve this issue in the interest of black people. All our policies are informed by our correct appreciation of the racialized history of our country.

This is contrary to those who speak about an open society and equal opportunities without first addressing the damaging effects of more than 300 years of deliberate economic exclusion of black people.

Let me emphasize that our bias towards the Indian, African and Coloured people all of whom are black is not meant to polarize society but is the most decisive intervention towards redress and social cohesion.

White compatriots must never feel excluded in this important project of building a non-racial, non-sexist, prosperous and democratic South Africa.

Working together for the past twenty years, we have managed to educate all our people to value diversity rather than see it as a source of division.

The ANC has succeeded in building a nation with an overarching national identity and which celebrates diverse cultures, religions, sexual orientation, skin colours and ethnic groups.

In everything we do, we must give practical meaning to the overarching vision of our forebears who developed the freedom charter that South Africa belongs to all who live in it, black and white.

This must be interpreted bearing in mind that blacks include Indians, Coloureds and Africans. Fellow congregants, We must pray for peace, progress and unity in our country during this Easter.

We must express our gratitude to the Lord for all the successes we have scored, as we mark 20 years of freedom.

Working together we have made South Africa a much better place to live in than it was before 1994.

For us to continue our transformation agenda which is aimed at changing our people`s lives for the better, we call on you to vote on the 7th of May 2014.

We call on our people this Easter to pray for peaceful successful elections, the type of elections we have had since 1994.

We urge millions to come out and vote on that day, the 7th of May, in celebration of the right to vote that we obtained through blood, sweat and tears.

Let us go out and vote in memory of Nelson Mandela, Yusuf Dadoo, Billy Nair and Albert Luthuli, I thank you very much for this opportunity to spend Good Friday with you.

I wish you a happy and blessed Easter weekend.