The freedom we now enjoy and celebrate was achieved through the selfless sacrifice of patriots who were prepared to pay the ultimate price, says the GCIS’ acting director-general Donald Liphoko. (Image: Shamin Chibba)By Donald Liphoko, acting director-general of GCISOn Freedom Day millions of South Africans will celebrate the day that marks the occasion of our first democratic elections in 1994 and gave birth to our freedom and constitutional democracy.Some will choose to spend the day at home surrounded by family and friends, others may gather at the national Freedom Day celebrations in Manguzi, Umhlabuyalingana Municipality, KwaZulu-Natal, which will be led by President Jacob Zuma. There are also those who may choose to use the national Freedom Day celebrations as a platform to raise their concerns.Whatever South Africans choose they will be free to do so. Our Constitution, our democracy, and our freedom have ensured that all people across our land are free to celebrate in the manner of their choosing.At face value, this seems utterly obvious, but we must never forget that before 1994, what now seems so utterly normal was denied to the majority of our fellow countrymen and women.The freedom we now enjoy and celebrate was achieved through the selfless sacrifice of patriots who were prepared to pay the ultimate price. They lived and died for the dream of a free and democratic South Africa that would be truly united, non-racial, non-sexist and prosperous. A country where everyone no matter their present circumstances would be free to strive for a better and more prosperous tomorrow.Since 1994 our country, and successive democratic administrations have worked to make this vision a reality. South Africa is undeniably a better place today than it was at the birth of our freedom, but much work still remains to undo the apartheid legacy of poverty, inequality and unemployment.The administration of President Jacob Zuma has continued this work since 2009. As a caring government, we continue to push for a society that is more equal, both socially and economically. Sadly, some have sought to push back against this vision by advocating that the status quo should remain in place.Such a call is both untenable and deeply worrying. We cannot and will not allow the continued existence of two parallel countries, and economies. It cannot be that our freedom dividend should only benefit some in our society, while the majority remain trapped in an existence of poverty, inequality and unemployment.Therefore government will continue its push for meaningful and inclusive economic transformation, that not only benefits some but all in our country. Our priority is to ensure greater participation in the economy by historically disadvantaged communities.We have already begun to implement this through our Medium-Term Strategic Framework 2014 to 2019. It sets out 14 outcomes around which we will mobilise all sectors of our society and it aims to ensure more equitable growth of the economy.These interventions should be seen as part of government’s long-term economic plan as guided by the National Development Plan, and immediate interventions such as the Nine-Point Plan, and Operation Phakisa.We are aware that many would argue that our immediate challenges cannot be resolved by the NDP, which is a long-term plan. However, the NDP is more than just a plan; it is the overarching vision for South Africa. Therefore it includes all key policy instruments aimed at growing the economy and creating jobs.These include the New Growth Path, which sets the trajectory of economic development; the National Infrastructure Plan, which guides the roll-out of infrastructure to improve people’s lives and enable economic growth; and the Industrial Policy Action Plan, which focuses on promoting investment and competitiveness in leading sectors and industries.Together these interventions are a potent driver for inclusive and far-reaching economic growth. However, our nation faces strong headwinds in the form of a slowing economy and global economic weakness. Therefore we need all South African onboard to tackle both our economic and social challenges.Let us, therefore, move away from the rhetoric and grandstanding. It is a luxury our country cannot afford. We must ensure that our dialogues are fair, less acrimonious and more constructive.As a caring government we will continue to lead the way by providing hope to all South Africans. Our social assistance programmes have lifted millions of people out of despair, and have planted the seeds of hope.The structural changes we are implementing will spur economic growth and ultimately lead to an economy and society that is more equitable. However, we cannot do it alone and need every sector of society to partner with us in this endeavour.Many South African companies have reaped the fruits of our freedom and have over the years have grown into strong multi-national corporations.As pillars in industry, we encourage them to use their success to move the country forward as we create the nation we all envisioned at the start of democracy. When South Africa benefits we all stand to benefit. Equally, we call on society to put aside narrow self-interest. Together we can build the country of our dreams; a nation which is prosperous, equitable and provides space for everyone to shine.The patriots who lived and died for our freedom have paved the way for this future, now it’s our turn to move South Africa forward.
Former England captain Alastair Cook believes that India are fielding their strongest ever pace attack in the five-match Test series, starting August 1 in Birmingham.There have been a lot of talks around India’s bowling unit this time, considering the fact that pace attack has not been India’s strong point. As a touring side, India have mostly lacked quality pacers, which have usually cost them matches in alien conditions.Cook feels this time around, India have variety and depth in their pace unit, something that is very unusual to them.Even without their pace mainstay Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who was expected to play an important role in England, India have immense quality in Umesh Yadav, Ishant Sharma and Mohammed Shami.While Ishant and Umesh are considered to be the fittest among all the fast bowlers, the performance and fitness of Shami will be key for the team in this series.Also read – India vs England: Injury concerns around India’s pace attack”India seem to have got a good variety of bowlers, especially pace bowlers, which is probably unusual. They have strength and depth in their pace bowling,” Cook said on Monday.”Over the last couple of years – certainly in the last 10 years I’ve played them – they haven’t had the option of playing five or six different types of seamers. That’s different to what I have experienced in the past but we’ll see over the next six weeks.”India’s top order has been under scrutiny and their form seems to be a cause of concern for the visitors but Cook backed struggling Shikhar Dhawan and Cheteshwar Pujara to come good in the series.advertisement”With very good players, form is certainly temporary. The reason they’re very good players is the number of runs they’ve scored in the past over a sustained period of time.Also read – Kuldeep our X-factor but we can’t forget Ashwin, Jadeja: Ajinkya Rahane”That’s why they’re the number one side in the world. You can go a couple of innings not scoring any runs, and suddenly you get a couple away and start to get that rhythm and timing back, and you get a big one. That is the nature of the beast, certainly with top-order batting,” Cook said.Cook is making a return to the English side after playing against Pakistan earlier in the summer. He said that he is feeling fresh for the challenge against India, a side against whom he has had a lot of success at Edgbaston.”I feel fresh. I haven’t played a huge amount of cricket over the last three and a half weeks. It was nice to score those runs last week (180 for England Lions versus India A). I moved pretty well, I batted pretty well. I feel ready,” said Cook.Cook, who had resigned as England Test captain last year to pave way for Joe Root, said: “I thoroughly enjoyed my time as England captain. It is a very challenging job. It’s a hard job. But it’s also a very rewarding job. You get tested in ways you never thought you would be.”And you make decisions every day about things which, before the days starts you don’t know about, and you’re captaining your country, which is the biggest honour a sportsman can know. I absolutely loved it. But I believed it was the right time (to quit) for me personally.”Also read – England gear up for historic 1000th Test, India eye rare series triumphCook feels the constant change in the combination of the playing XI has affected England’s dream of becoming the number one team in the world.”To become the number one side in the world, it takes two or three years of really good results and we haven’t had that. The team has been changing as we’re finding out different things about different players and different combinations,” he said.”You go back to that side in 2011, that was probably the end of two or three years under Andrew Strauss and Andy Flower playing really good cricket with the same 14 or 15 players. Everyone produced the goods over a period of tome. We’re a little bit away of that and that’s the challenge of this time,” he said.(With PTI inputs)