Unmasking the Reality: A Call for Genuine Change to Rescue South Africa

Issued by Siviwe Gwarube MP – Chief Whip of the Official Opposition
14 Feb 2024 in News

Note to Editors: The following speech was delivered by the Chief Whip of the Official Opposition, Siviwe Gwarube MP, during a Debate on the President’s State-of-the-Nation Address in Cape Town this afternoon.


The President’s attempt to sanitise the lived reality of South Africans fell flat on Thursday night.

His revisionist and dishonest fairytale is an insult to those who know the truth.

They know the truth because they live it;

They know what was told to them was a lie concocted by a bunch of speech writers – and not the daily nightmare that was touted as the New Dawn.

I would like to assist the President to understand how the other side lives.

I would like to introduce him to the real stories of real South Africans.

His fictional character, Tintswalo – a child born with our democracy – is the exception and not the rule.

In this country the reality of young people is too bleak for words.


Let me introduce you to Thabang, Mr President.

A 29-year-old young man, born in 1995.

His family has lived in Alexandra all his life and his entire world view is characterized by lack, by poor service delivery, joblessness and hopelessness.

None of his family members have made it out and escaped the clutches of poverty.

Under the Ramaphosa presidency, there is no hope that he ever will either.

Despite his matric qualification, he is unlikely to ever clinch a scholarship to study further, or obtain a job that will allow him to live a life of dignity.

Unless we cut the lifeline of the government that has thrown away his future, he will continue living in abject poverty; under the worst conditions.

He was there when – in the heat of an election campaign – you, Mr President promised the people of Alex one million new homes.

He watches with dismay when you speak tough on corruption yet, your Deputy President, Paul Mashatile, has been embroiled in the looting of money meant for the Alex Renewal Project.

Your hypocrisy is not lost on him, sir.

He does not need to be sold a lie, he wakes up to a nightmare of broken promises every day.

He will likely be persuaded to a life of crime, or end his life because young people in South Africa are living in hell.

His life – whether cut short by a jail sentence or a life sentence – will be on your hands, Sir.


Allow me to introduce you to Langalam Viki from eKomani – a 3 year old child who died inside a pit toilet because your government failed to uphold basic human rights of leaners in schools.

Yours Mr President, is a government that has trapped an entire generation of poor black children in a life of poverty.

Xa izikolo zingezo ndawo apho abantwana bayofundela khona, zingamangcwaba – kukhona okonakeleyo.

Bongeka Buso:

I would like to remind you of Bongeka Buso and her children Anathi, Arabile and Oratile.

Bongeka was a mother of 3 children from eGcuwa who decided to end her life and her children’s due to the poverty crisis that is engulfing millions of South Africa across the country.

Bongeka, Mr President, made a choice no mother should ever be forced to make in a constitutional democracy.

She decided to take her life rather than to continue living in poverty, starving and having to stare at her children’s expectant faces daily with no hope in sight.

South Africa is not a poor country.

It is a country that is led poorly and let down by an uncaring government.


It is a crime that severe malnutrition in children under the age of five years old has risen by 26% in the past five years alone.

We know that over 12 000 children under five have died in hospitals since 2013 due to sheer starvation.

Most recently, the census revealed at least 2 million households in this country were experiencing hunger and forced to skip meals daily.

This is the reality of your track record in government, Sir.

These are not just numbers; these are people whose lives are being destroyed by your government.


Eyonanto ibuhlungu yeyokuba kudala abantu benomonde, belinde lorhulumente owayebathembise ubomi obuphuchukileyo.

Kudala abantu beginya nokuba kukrakra kuba benethemba lokuba noko nizode nikhuzane; ningabayekeleli batshabalaliswa yindlala.

Elothemba liphelile.

Bayabona lo urhulumente uphethwe ngabantu abazimisele ukutya imali yoluntu bade bayosulele entloko.

Sebeyiqonda ukuba umbutho weANC asenguwo lo babemazi; selegcwele ohlohlesabo.

Yintoni nikhohlakele kangaka?

Yinkohlakalo Mongameli into yabantu abayi 30 million bangabinakutya imihla nezolo.

Yinkohlakalo into yabantu abatsha abangafumani misebenzi; bagcakameli ilanga kumakhaya abo befumbathe izidanga ezabhatalelwa ebunzimeni.

Yinkohlakalo into yobantwana abasweleka yindlala in 2024.

And to add insult to injury, our people are gaslit by the ANC government when they seek to hold you to account;

Their loyalty is demanded and are routinely reminded about how grateful they ought to be to the ANC.

1994- 2024

What is clear from the President’s reluctance to recount key tangible deliverables of the past term in office is that these are few and far between.

He decided to do some fancy footwork on Thursday by focusing on the past 30 years of democracy and not the past 5 years of his Presidency.

He too is ashamed of his record in government.

He too knows that South Africans are worse off today than they were in 2019 at the beginning of this administration.

He too knows that his government’s time is up.

The people have finally seen through your sloganeering which does not translate to real change for the people who need it most.

Your fudging of the numbers fools no one.

Because people should not have to be told about your record of delivery; they should experience it.

An alternative

As we look towards a post- ANC South African democracy, it is clear that we need a serious alternative government.

A government that will not demand another 30 years in office from the people that it serves;

A government that understands that it is only as good as their delivery in office;

A government that is content with being on a 5 year contract to deliver against its promises.

Looking at the ANC benches, we can see that this is a party with no ideas and no capacity to be that government.

You cannot be trusted with mending the very thing you have broken.

The pledge:

I would like to turn my attention away from the people in this room; and speak to the people at home.

I want to assure you, intlungu yenu bantu baseMzantsi Afrika does not fall on deaf ears.

An alternative is within reach – a caring government that works for you.

Urhulumente ozakunikhupha ebugxwayibeni; anikhuphe entluphekweni ukuze niphile ubom enanibuthenjisiwe 30 years ago.

Allowing people to languish in poverty has been one of the most spectacular failures of this government – but it does not have to be this way.

A DA-led government would – among other things – prioritize creating jobs and lifting people out of poverty.

The 7 out 10 young people without work will be gainfully employed so that you can live a life of dignity;

This will be done by a concerted effort to resolve the energy crisis in order to allow for an unhindered growth of the economy;

To bring relief to struggling families, we would immediately expand the basket of essential food items that are exempted from VAT;

To support those who are looking for employment, this incoming DA-led government would convert the Social Relief Grant to a permanent Job Seekers Grant;

To deal with crippling poverty, we would increase the child support grant to the same level as the official poverty line;

This child support grant would cover pregnant mothers to support child nutrition.

As a caring government we would ensure a safety net for the most vulnerable in our society.

These interventions have been carefully costed;

They are sustainable;

They are needed and urgent

And they will save lives.

This a pledge to the people at home desperately looking for a way out of this nightmare.

Help is on the way.