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Election promises dominate Zuma's Human Rights Day speech

Staff Reporter

President Jacob Zuma promised more services, schooling, jobs and healthcare in a polls-focused speech, as the DA and EFF descended on Sharpeville.

Government would work even harder in the next five years to ensure every household has access to decent schools, said Zuma.

President Jacob Zuma on Friday hailed South Africa as one of the few countries in the world that included socioeconomic rights in its Constitution. 

"As we mark 20 years of freedom and democracy this year, it is an opportunity to celebrate all the achievements that South Africans have scored in all walks of life, working together," he said to the thousands of ANC supporters gathered at the George Thabe Cricket Pitch in Sharpeville, Gauteng.

"We now live in a thriving constitutional democracy with equal citizenship for all and a respect for human rights and dignity," he said.

Zuma commemorated the lives lost in Sharpeville on March 21 1960, when the police opened fire on thousands of people protesting against unjust apartheid laws, killing 69 people and wounding 180 others.

The day is remembered in South Africa as Human Rights Day and commemorates the Sharpeville massacre.

He said that the 20 years of democracy has "not been easy because the legacy of apartheid is huge and the backlogs are massive".

Zuma said that in the next five years, government would work even harder to improve the quality of life of all South Africans. Every household should have access to water, electricity, decent schools, clinics and an economy that creates jobs.

No mention of Nkandla
The president made no mention of the public protector's controversial Nkandla report during his speech.

Public protector Thuli Madonsela released a damning report on Wednesday into state-funded renovations to the president's private homestead, from which she found that Zuma and his family had "unduly benefited".

The ANC was not the only political party speaking at Sharpeville to commemorate Human Rights Day. The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) and the Democratic Alliance (DA) were also present. 

Earlier, a group of Economic Freedom Fighter members blocked the street to the stadium, dancing and singing songs praising their leader, Julius Malema, but soon moved their gathering slightly away from the stadium.

But the DA's Mmusi Maimane said ANC members attacked their convoy en route to the memorial. "We were forced to retreat for safety when the only intention was to complete the wreath-laying," Maimane said.

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