There must be meaningful political contestation for South Africa to have a proper democracy, DA leader Helen Zille said at a Freedom Day event in Atteridgeville, Pretoria, on Friday.
"That, in turn, requires citizens who know how powerful they are, and who use their power to full effect enforcing accountability, ensuring service delivery [and] writing their own future," she said.
She said that there must also be meaningful political contestation, through voters who are prepared to change governments through the ballot box.
She added that it was important for citizens to know their importance in the country and those successful democracies did not have to rely on elections only.
"Those South Africans born in 1994 are the born free generation. They are representativeS of a new group, those who must lead the way to the fulfillment of [former president] Nelson Mandela's non-racial, united vision for our country," she said.
"They can proudly proclaim that they were born into a society where equal human rights, open opportunities and freedom are institutionally protected."
She said the Constitution would continue to act as a fire-wall that would protect South Africans from a return to tyranny and the abuse of political power.
"Today...we honour our past, and we own our future." She said South Africa's democracy was born at the ballot box and that its future should be written at the ballot box.
"Exactly 18 years ago a democratic South Africa was born. Voters went out in their millions, most of them for the first time ever, to make their mark for the political party of their choice," Zille said.
"This was a day of elation, joy and relief for millions of people who had unjustly suffered under an oppressive regime which divided our people for decades", she said.