South Africa Celebrates 20 Years of Freedom From Apartheid

Last leader of apartheid praises day as 'our proudest moment as South Africans' but chides current leadership for increasing racial discrimination.

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A man purchasin a beret of the ANC during a march to support the ruling ANC party in Durban, April 26, 2014.
A man purchasin a beret of the ANC during a march to support the ruling ANC party in Durban, April 26, 2014.Credit: AFP

South Africa celebrates the 20th anniversary of full democracy Sunday on the holiday the state has named Freedom Day.

The country held its first all-race election on April 27, 1994, electing the late Nelson Mandela, leader of the African National Congress, as its first black president.

FW de Klerk, the last president under the old apartheid system, described the day as "our proudest moment as South Africans," according to the South Africa Broadcasting Company. At the same time, however, he "scolded the ruling ANC for gross mismanagement and 'increasingly aggressive' racial discrimination," the SABC reported.

On the upside, the economy has tripled in size, the amount of poverty has decreased, and "a vigorous and self-confident black middle class" has emerged, the former premier said. However, he warned that public institutions "have been commandeered to promote partisan political objectives" under ANC rule.

President Jacob Zuma will lead the main festivities at the Union Buildings, the seat of government in Pretoria, where AFP noted "generations of apartheid leaders penned many of the racial laws that South Africa's first black leader Nelson Mandela fought most of his life."

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