If South Africans want a democratically-elected government to be removed, then they need to provide a better alternative, Ekurhuleni Mayor Mzwandile Masina said on Thursday.
“Those who are saying to us now that they want regime change, they are yet to tell the people of South Africa, change from democracy to what?” Masina asked.
He was speaking in Dawn Park, Boksburg, where the Ekurhuleni metro announced plans to turn slain SA Communist Party leader Chris Hani’s home into a museum.
Masina was referring to the growing calls within the ANC and civil society for President Jacob Zuma to step down. He pointed out that the ANC won the 2014 general elections with an overwhelming 62% majority.
“The importance of this is South Africans must be careful, because we have seen and learnt from some of the neighbouring countries, like Tunisia, where people went on a rampage to look for change. The sum result is that they have three sitting governments. They don’t know which rule to apply when and how.
“People of Egypt did the same, they went for the Arab Spring through social media, but other seasons have not arrived. Their government is in chaos.”
It was the same in Libya.
“The fact is, if you want to change that which is working, you must provide an alternative.”
Agitated for change
He said instead of calling for Zuma to step down, South Africans should engage in a debate of ideas that would take the country forward.
“We are not saying that people must not speak, but I think that the discourse should be about ‘where do we take South Africa?’”
He cited the examples of Tunisia, Libya, and Egypt, because while its citizens agitated for change, he was not sure if it was what they wanted.
The current government wanted to engage with all those who had “discerning” views, but they needed to have clear reasons and programmes.
“The attack on the president is unwarranted and I think that it is an attack on the African National Congress, which has brought freedom here.
“The point I was making is that when the ANC fought apartheid, the alternative to apartheid was democracy. So now those who want democracy to fall, they must tell us what they are presenting to the people of South Africa,” he said.