DA Leader, Mmusi Maimane says that the South Africa of today, under president Jacob Zuma, is not the South Africa Nelson Mandela dreamed of.
“The ANC of today is not his ANC,” Maimane said during a National Assembly debate to mark International Nelson Mandela Day.
He noted that in 1964, speaking from the dock in the Rivonia trial, ‘Tata Madiba’ expressed his dream for “a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities”.
“This was an ideal for which he was prepared to die,” Maimane said.
“Madiba set an example for all South Africans through his selfless dedication to building an inclusive nation.”
On his inauguration as the first democratically elected president of the Republic, Madiba brought a message of hope and reconciliation with the following words:
The DA lead said that the divisive system of Apartheid denied millions of black South Africans access to economic opportunities, leading to a legacy of racial inequality, while also denying South Africans their dignity and humanity.
Maimane said that while the country continues to celebrate Madiba’s legacy today, “we must acknowledge that this dream has not been completed”.
“While Madiba’s dream was given power in the preamble of our Constitution through a commitment to ‘improving the quality of life of all citizens and freeing the potential of each person,’ President Zuma’s government has not honoured that commitment.”
21 years of progress, but…
Maimane said that the nation has come a long way since 1994, however the successes achieved must be measured against the benchmark of Mandela’s vision for the country.
“Today our society is characterised by corruption, and the benefit of some at the expense of many.
“Empowerment programmes aimed at economic inclusivity have only resulted in the enrichment of those who are politically connected, while leaving the vast majority of poor South Africans without the opportunity to pursue a life they value,” Maimane said.
Madiba once said that “We are not yet free…We have merely achieved the freedom to be free”.
“He understood that building a strong economy is a basic requirement for building an inclusive South Africa. He understood that our people need freedom they can use.
“Unemployment and racial inequality continue to divide us as a nation, and threaten to prevent us from fulfilling Madiba’s dream,” the DA lead said.
He stressed that an equitable, prosperous society can only be made possible by economic growth that creates millions of jobs and opportunities for South Africans that are left out.
“But instead we face an economic crisis that sees one in three South Africans left without work.
“These people are not only being denied the chance to earn a living, but are being denied the chance to pursue their dreams and a life they value.”
The DA pointed out that the youth in the country are suffering most – two in every three of those who are unemployed are young people.
Economic growth over the past five years has averaged out at less than 2%, far below the level required to bring about meaningful change to the economic structure of our society.
Those who are referred to as “born free” remain chained to the legacy of the past due to inconsistent policies, poor economic infrastructure, and rent seeking behaviour on the part of those who are connected to the elite.
“The truth is that President Zuma’s ANC is not the ANC of Nelson Mandela,” Maimane said.
Respect for law
“Madiba had an unwavering respect for the Constitution and the Rule of Law, and set an example to all South Africans to honour its founding principles.
“He fought for a society in which everyone is equal before the law.”
The DA said that the ANC of today have long forgotten this example, and undermine the supreme law of our land to suit their narrow interests of self-enrichment.
“President Zuma has shown disregard for our courts and ignored institutions such as the Public Protector, using the power of his office to protect himself from accountability.”
Mandela said that human rights should be the light that guides foreign policy. “Yet Zuma’s executive was complicit in allowing Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir, a wanted war criminal, to escape South Africa in violation of both international and domestic law, and a direct High Court order.
“But instead of defending the Constitution, Luthuli House and its allies criticised the judiciary for their overreach in making judgements that are against the state.”
“We can stop the rot of the economy that has occurred under President Zuma,” Maimane said.