Note to editors: The following speech was delivered in Parliament today by the DA’s Member in the NCOP, Vusumzi Magwebu MP, during the State of the Nation (SONA) Debate in the National Assembly this afternoon.
Hon. Speaker, Hon. Chairperson, members and fellow South Africans.
What took place in this House during the State of the Nation Address (SONA) last Thursday, left us and many South Africans ashamed and aggrieved.
Chinua Achebe, in his book entitled Things Fall Apart quotes William Butler Yeats, essayist and dramatist’s The Second Coming. Yeats wrote,
“Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things Fall Apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosened upon the world.”
Achebe reminds us of the tragic fall of a warrior and village hero, a leader of his tribe, who did not know how to handle the power that came with this position.
He opposed all wise counsel, turned volatile and beat his wives, even during the sacred Week of Peace; murdered those he had a duty to care for, and went gun-toting because to him, listening to dissent and opposition would be a sign of weakness.
Mr Zuma, you have been given wise counsel, both by opposition parties as well as senior members within your own party to do the honourable thing and step down as President of the Republic of South Africa.
Mr Zuma, you have gone far beyond destroying our nation; you have broken us. It is a true sign of strength when one does that which is right instead of that which is comfortable; and in your case, self-serving. It is therefore not surprising that you do not possess this righteous virtue.
Mr Zuma, you have caused enough pain and suffering to our people, you have lost the moral authority to govern and your presidency has been characterised by insidious levels of corruption and a lack of political will to combat it, abuse of power, maladministration, and irregular appointments of government officials in state institutions.
Those who opposed your resignation are either as corrupt as yourself or only have their own interests at heart.
Mr Zuma, you truly lack the integrity and capacity to take the development and transformation of our society seriously; giggling when security forces invaded a building which is supposed to be a beacon of hope to our people and violated our fellow members’ right to human dignity, freedom of expression, and freedom and security of the person.
Achebe reminds us that “things fall apart; the centre cannot hold” which carries great meaning for us as South Africans today.
Close to 9 million South Africans are unemployed, and many have given up looking for jobs.
Under your ANC government, a whole generation of young people has been lost. More than 5 million, mainly young black South Africans between 15 – 34 years are unemployed and lack the necessary training; making it difficult for them to participate in the country’s economy. They have been denied the opportunity for a better life by poor quality basic education and starved of opportunities to develop their skills.
Reporting on the progress of the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) Mr Zuma stated that “since 2014, 2 million work opportunities had been created on the road to achieving 6 million by March 2019 and of these, more than half had been taken up by youth.”
What he failed to mention was that in ANC-governed municipalities you need to be a card-carrying member of their party to enjoy the ‘kola nut’, ‘palm-wine’ and ‘yam foo-foo’ of our nation which should belong to all, and not an elite few.
Further, he failed to mention that the same individual can be employed on different projects and each period of employment will be counted as a work opportunity. So, while 2 million work opportunities were created, this does not mean that the same number of people benefited from the programme.
In the DA governed municipalities, the EPWP is implemented in a manner that is fair and transparent.
All job seekers apply and their names are placed in the database to ensure fairness and transparency. The City of Cape Town is now planning to expand the EPWP opportunities beyond government. They will allow private employers in government to employ job seekers on the database.
It is thus not surprising that the City of Cape Town has received several awards for the successful implementation of their EPWP programme.
The expanded youth unemployment rate in South Africa is almost 50%; this is our ‘lost generation’.
It is for that reason that the DA has proposed a ‘Rescue Plan’ for the ‘lost generation’ and in the coming year we will sit down on policy platforms with these young South Africans to address this challenge as we prepare to govern our Republic in 2019.
Through initiatives like a ‘jobs and justice’ fund that will give entrepreneurs access to capital and a nation-wide government internship programme, we will partner with business to bring hope and opportunities to this generation.
The underfunding of our universities by the ANC-led government and the recent unrest in our institutions of higher learning undermines efforts to provide our youth with the necessary skills they require.
Mr Zuma, things have fallen apart; your centre cannot hold. No amount of radical transformation can solve South Africa‘s socio-economic problems if the ANC refuses to govern because of its obsession with ruling our people.
Where the DA governs, we succeed because our policies provide policy direction and coherence of the economy, an increase in investment and savings, support for redress measures to broaden participation in the economy, and targets corruption through good governance.
Under the ANC, things have fallen apart. Minister Lindiwe Zulu, unashamedly grabbed my ‘Remember Esidemeni 94’ flag from me and uttered words I refuse to repeat in this house.
Ms Zulu, the DA is ready to govern and we are not ashamed of our proven track record as a caring government.
What enjoins us in the DA are our shared values of freedom, fairness and opportunity, respect and belief in the supremacy of Constitution and the Rule of Law, and we refuse to apologise for that.
I thank you.