For reflection: The Freedom Charter, adopted on 26 June 1955

 

We,

Yesterday, we celebrated the adoption of the Freedom Charter in South Africa. As Christians, it is important to read this document and to engage with it theologically as we now prepare to engage the National Planning commission in crafting a 2030 vision for South Africa. The Freedom Charter reads as follows:

The people of South Africa, declare
for all our country and the world to know:

that South Africa belongs to all who
live in it, black and white, and that no government can justly claim authority
unless it is based on the will of the People;
that our people have been robbed of
their birthright to land, liberty and peace by a form of government founded on
injustice and inequality;
that our country will never be
prosperous or free until all our people live in brotherhood, enjoying equal
rights and opportunities;
that only a democratic state, based
on the will of all the people, can secure to all their birthright without
distinction of colour, race, sex or belief;
And Therefore we, the People of South Africa, black and white together – equals,
countrymen and brothers – adopt this Freedom Charter. And we pledge ourselves to
strive together, sparing neither strength nor courage, until the democratic
changes here set out have been won.
THE PEOPLE SHALL GOVERN!
Every man and woman shall have the
right to vote for and to stand as a candidate for all bodies which make
laws;
All people shall be entitled to take
part in the administration of the country;
The rights of the people shall be
the same, regardless of race, colour or sex;
All bodies of minority rule,
advisory boards, councils and authorities, shall be replaced by democratic
organs of self-government.
ALL NATIONAL GROUPS SHALL HAVE EQUAL
RIGHTS!
There shall be equal status in the
bodies of the state, in the courts and in the schools for all national groups
and races;
All people shall have equal right to
use their own languages and to develop their own folk culture and
customs;
All national groups shall be protected by law against insults to
their race and national pride;
The preaching and practice of national, race
or colour discrimination and contempt shall be a punishable
crime;
All apartheid laws and practices
shall be set aside.
THE PEOPLE SHALL SHARE IN THE
COUNTRY’S WEALTH!
The national wealth of our
country, the heritage of all South Africans, shall be restored to the
people;
The mineral wealth beneath
the soil, the banks and the monopoly industry shall be transferred to the
ownership of the people as a whole;
All other industry and
trade shall be controlled to assist the well-being of the people;
All people
shall have equal rights to trade where they choose, to manufacture and to enter
all trades, crafts and professions.
THE LAND SHALL BE SHARED AMONG THOSE WHO WORK
IT!
Restriction of land ownership on a
racial basis shall be ended, and all the land re-divided amongst those who work
it, to banish famine and land hunger;
The state shall help the peasants with
implements, seed, tractors and dams to save the soil and assist the
tillers;
Freedom of movement shall be
guaranteed to all who work on the land;
All shall have the right to occupy
land wherever they choose;
People shall not be robbed of their
cattle, and forced labour and farm prisons shall be
abolished.
ALL SHALL BE EQUAL BEFORE THE
LAW!
No one shall be imprisoned, deported
or restricted without a fair trial;
No one shall be condemned by the order of
any government official;
The courts shall be representative of all the
people;
Imprisonment shall be only for
serious crimes against the people, and shall aim at re-education, not
vengeance;
The police force and army shall be
open to all on an equal basis and shall be the helpers and protectors of the
people;
All laws which discriminate on grounds of race, colour or belief
shall be repealed.
ALL SHALL ENJOY EQUAL HUMAN
RIGHTS!
The law shall guarantee to all their
right to speak, to organise, to meet together, to publish, to preach, to
worship, and to educate their children;
The privacy of the house from police
raids shall be protected by law;
All shall be free to travel without
restriction from countryside to towns, from province to province, and from South
Africa abroad;
Pass laws, permits and all other
laws restricting these freedoms shall be
abolished.
 THERE SHALL BE WORK AND
SECURITY!
All who work shall be free to form
trade unions, to elect their officers and to make wage agreements with their
employers;
The state shall recognise the right
and duty of all to work, and to draw full unemployment benefits;
Men and
women of all races shall receive equal pay for equal work;
There shall be a forty-hour
working-week, a national minimum wage, paid annual leave, and sick leave for all
workers, and maternity leave on full pay for all working mothers;
Miners,
domestic workers, farm workers and civil servants shall have the same rights as
all others who work;
Child labour, compound labour, the tot system and
contract labour shall be abolished.
THE DOORS OF LEARNING AND OF CULTURE SHALL BE
OPENED!
The government shall discover,
develop and encourage national talent for the enhancement of our cultural
life;
All the cultural treasures of mankind shall be open to all, by free
exchange of books, ideas and contact with other lands;
The aim of education shall be to
teach the youth to love their people and their culture, to honour human
brotherhood, liberty and peace;
Education shall be free, compulsory,
universal and equal for all children;
Higher education and technical training
shall be opened to all by means of state allowances and scholarships awarded on
the basis of merit;
Adult illiteracy shall be ended by a
mass state educational plan;
Teachers shall have all the rights of other
citizens;
The colour bar in cultural life, in sport and in education shall be
abolished.
 THERE SHALL BE HOUSES, SECURITY AND
COMFORT!
All people shall have the right to
live where they choose, to be decently housed and to bring up their families in
comfort and security;
Unused housing space shall be made available to the
people;
Rent and prices shall be lowered, food plentiful and no one shall go
hungry;
A preventive health scheme shall be
run by the state;
Free medical care and hospitalisation shall be provided for
all, with special care for mothers and young children;
Slums shall be demolished, and new
suburbs built where all have transport, roads, lighting, playing fields, creches
and social centres;
The aged, the orphans, the disabled and the sick shall be
cared for by the state;
Rest, leisure and recreation shall be the right of
all;
Fenced locations and ghettoes shall be abolished and laws which break up
families shall be repealed.
THERE SHALL BE PEACE AND
FRIENDSHIP!
South Africa shall be a fully
independent state, which respects the rights and sovereignty of all
nations;
South Africa shall strive to maintain world peace and the settlement
of all international disputes by negotiation – not war;
Peace and friendship amongst all our
people shall be secured by upholding equal rights, opportunities and status for
all;
The people of the protectorates- Basutoland, Bechuanaland and Swaziland
shall be free to decide for themselves their own future;
The right of the peoples of Africa
to independence and self-government shall be recognised and shall be the basis
of close co-operation.

Let all
who love their people and their country now say, as we say here:

‘THESE FREEDOMS WE WILL FIGHT FOR, SIDE BY SIDE, THROUGHOUT OUR
LIVES, UNTIL WE HAVE WON OUR LIBERTY.’

Adopted at the Congress of the People at Kliptown,
Johannesburg, on 25th and 26th June , 1955.
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