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We all need our rights

Human rights are at the very foundation of our lives,

and every single human being is entitled to them.

When a person’s rights are protected, they are able to be healthy, secure and educated.

They are able to live a life free from discrimination, oppression and social injustice.

 Over the past 25 years, South Africa’s Bill of Rights has been at the heart of our democracy.

This month, our focus will turn to these non-negotiable rights, centering around Human Rights Day on 21 March.

This milestone date in South African history marks the tragic Sharpeville Massacre of 1960,

when 69 people were killed by apartheid police as they rose in unison to fi ght for their rights.

Those who lost their lives paid the ultimate price simply for fi ghting for what they were entitled to as human beings.

As public servants, the least we can do is to work towards ensuring that the rights of every South African citizen are protected.

In fact, the Bill of Rights specifi cally states that government

“must respect, protect, promote and fulfi l the rights in the Bill of Rights”.

It is an unfortunate reality, however, that after the oppression of apartheid, many South Africans are still being deprived of their rights today. Poverty, inequality, discrimination and violence still plague our society.

While signifi cant progress has been made in addressing these social ills over the past 25 years, there is still much that needs to be done to fulfi l the ideals of the Bill of Rights.

 is crucial that we make this our primary goal as we carry out our responsibilities as public servants.

In an election year, it is also important to remember that every person is entitled to their political rights.

Every citizen has the right to free, fair and regular elections, and every adult has the right to vote in elections for any legislative body established in terms of the Constitution.

The Independent Electoral Commission has established a robust and fair voting system that allows citizens to exercise these rights.

We are fortunate that, throughout our democracy, our elections have always been regarded as free and fair, with the results always refl ecting the will of the people.

 All of us should take advantage of the precious platform we have to participate in South Africa’s democracy.

It is pleasing to note that the number of registered voters on the roll for this year’s National and Provincial Elections stands at almost 27 million, 2 million more than the last elections in 2014.

We look forward to seeing every one of them, including public servants, heading to the polls to exercise their political rights. Let us fully acknowledge and fight for the rights we have as human beings.

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