Immediate release:                                                                                                                                     27 April 2020


National Freedom Day 2020 Commemoration. Citizenship Cannot be the grounds for survival.

The 27th of April, Freedom Day, in South Africa is ordinarily a day of celebration and consideration on South Africa’s hard fought democratic achievements and challenges. This Freedom Day after three decades, is the first under national lockdown. In the face of an unprecedented national and global health emergency the Government of South Africa declared a National State of Disaster in terms of the Disaster Management Act and subsequently enforced a national lockdown to curb and flatten the curve on the transmission of COVID-19 (Corona Virus). However, this National Freedom Day in South Africa is meant to celebrate freedom and commemorate the first post-apartheid election held on this day in 1994.

The lockdown has been necessary in responding to the national health emergency to save lives of many citizens and non-nationals. At the same time, it has made stark historical socio-economic inequalities in South Africa. Furthermore, the lockdown has witnessed gross violations of human rights in cases of police and military brutality, evictions and the demolition of people homes despite a moratorium, pervasive food insecurity and exclusionary practices towards refugees, asylum seekers, migrants and their children living in South Africa, through the government and various departmental responses, have continued.

This Freedom Day, as never before, calls for all of us irrespective of nationality to stand united in our struggle for continued social and economic justice and to save lives for all who live in South Africa. We are only free when we are all free from discrimination, exclusion and preferences.  It cannot be correct that after more than 26 years in democracy that citizenship is used as the grounds for survival. Everyone has the right to life.

The Consortium for Refugees and Migrants in South Africa (CoRMSA) is deeply concerned by the discrimination and exclusion of refugees, asylum seekers and migrants in the various measures put in place to provide economic and social relief for people in South Africa in response to the National Disaster and its impact. Hunger, unemployment and financial insecurity is not determined by the nationality of individuals. It is crucial that the national response to the current and ongoing crisis in South Africa is people centred, promotes and upholds the human rights for all, and human dignity is central to its purpose.  We are only as free as the freedom of our neighbours.

In President Cyril Ramaphosa’s Freedom Day keynote address today, he fittingly stated that: ‘freedom for some is freedom for none’. As President Cyril Ramaphosa leads the nation, and continent, as chair of the African Union, through an unmatched global pandemic we call on him and all Ministers of government to approach any response to the COVID-19 National Disaster and lockdown, both economic and social, with the values of solidarity, inclusivity and Ubuntu. This is not the right time for politicians to score political points but to enhance the protection and survival for all.

For inquiries or more information please contact: Thifulufheli Sinthumule (CoRMSA) 71 358 0059 or Abigail Dawson (CoRMSA) +27748515683

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