by Andrew Louw MPL – DA Provincial Leader in the Northern Cape
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Date: 27 September 2018
Note to editors: The following speech was delivered in the Northern Cape Provincial Legislature today by the DA Provincial Leader in the Northern Cape, Andrew Louw MPL, during the Heritage Day debate.
Born and raised on the dusty streets of Galeshewe, I have a deep love for Kimberley, for the Northern Cape and for all our people. From Kimberley to Kleinzee, and from Noupoort to Sutherland, our diversity is as extensive as the vastness of this province. From the skeleton coast to fields of daisies, from salt pans to red sand dunes, from acacia trees to diamonds, from vineyards to game farms, from extreme heat to extreme cold, from Afrikaans and Tswana to the Nama and Khwe languages, we are a medley of flavours.
We must celebrate this magnificent variety.
In embracing this wonderful heritage, we have the power to change the future of the people of the Northern Cape for the better because within our unique heritage lies the potential to create hope, create unity and create opportunity.
Sadly, however, the path that we now find ourselves on, as a province and as a nation, is the wrong one. We have veered off the path laid out by the father of our nation, Nelson Mandela.
Hon. Speaker, as the first democratically elected President, Mr Mandela laid a strong foundation for the country, based on the ideals of non-racialism, freedom, equality, dignity for all and national reconciliation.
More than anyone else, he embraced the power of our rich heritage, culture and diversity. In his trademark Madiba shirt he instilled pride of culture, through his forgiving acceptance of others, and via initiatives to bring everyone together, from soccer players to rugby lovers, he strove to build this nation.
He also strove to rectify our shared heritage of oppression and economic dispossession.
He knew that the hard-won political freedom that came with the right to vote needed to be followed by economic freedom. He knew that only through full participation in the economy could people consider themselves truly free. Under former President Mandela, people’s daily lives undoubtedly improved. There was great hope that our shared heritage of a skewed economy that was the result of the Apartheid era, would be addressed.
But today, millions of people still remain excluded from the economy.
In the Northern Cape, we already have an expanded unemployment rate of 42,4%.
Emerging farmers have not been given land and title deeds, to enable them to successfully work the land.
Artisanal miners have not been empowered to make a decent and honest living.
Unskilled citizens have not been given opportunities to learn a trade and many of those who are enrolled on temporary work programmes, are selected based on their allegiance to the ruling party and according to who they know.
Those who are lucky enough to have bursaries are continuously failed by the government who doesn’t bother to pay their study fees. They are left with no choice but to return home, even more demotivated than before.
Young, educated people are not granted an opportunity to work and there are more graduates sitting at home, than in the workplace.
In short, our people are deprived. Our people are desperate. Our people need jobs.
And now, given the emergence of populist rhetoric, like expropriation without compensation, that will rob everyone, regardless of their skin colour of ownership rights, we see our country at risk of shedding even more jobs.
This is devastating. Already we are in the midst of a recession, brought on by years of corruption and misguided policy decisions of this government.
People are hungry. They cannot afford to put food on their table, let alone buy soap to wash their children’s school clothes.
Yet, this ANC government doesn’t care.
This government cares less about helping the poor and dispossessed, than it does about finding ways of helping themselves to the money meant for the people.
This government also cares more about retaining power and fighting off the factions that threaten their grip on power and wealth, than it does about the survival of the people.
Hon. Speaker, these are indeed dark times.
Poverty and unemployment are worse than ever before. Corruption is the order of the day. Safety is something that even alarm systems, electric fences and security guards cannot guarantee. Illegal immigration increasingly poses a threat to our people and we are faced with the horrific crimes like human trafficking. Government services are also dismal. Hospitals are out of stock and understaffed and function as clinics. A lack of school safety also endangers the lives of our children while social grants fail to cover children’s basic needs. Housing needs of the majority are also not met and RDP homes remain incomplete and unusable due to tenderpreneurship, while those that are completed go to connected individuals and not the names on the housing waiting list.
To aggravate all of this, there is a devious force at work in South Africa, that seeks to achieve the complete opposite of Nelson Mandela’s rainbow nation.
Even President Cyril Ramaphosa was recently forced to take a stand, to denounce those who are now saying that Nelson Mandela sold out South Africa.
What has this country come to, when people start questioning the goodness of an icon like Mandela?
Hon. Speaker, we need to bring an end to the orchestrated intolerance, hatred and greed of a powerful few, which is being manipulated by marketing gurus to appear as if these are the sentiments of the majority.
We need to bring an end to those poisoning the minds of our people and purposefully sewing division within our communities.
I know that there is an inherent goodness in South Africans. We must reignite this goodness.
While we must use Heritage Day to celebrate our diversity, and to address our shared heritage of the legacy of apartheid, we should also start thinking of the legacy that we want to leave our children and their children.
Surely we do not want them to suffer economic exclusion that continues to be propelled by this very government?
We owe it to the generations to come, to ensure that their heritage is not still one of oppression but one of a more just, inclusive country than the South Africa we have today.
Let us strive to build a shared heritage, where a child’s opportunities in life are not still determined by the circumstances of her birth but by the opportunities that this government can offer them.
Let us strive to build a unified nation where not a single South African is abandoned by their government.
Hon. Speaker, as a nation divided we will not succeed.
We need all the colours of spectrum, and we need to bind them together and bind them to form a rainbow, so that we can finally find the pot of gold, the pot of opportunity and the pot of prosperity that lies waiting at the end of this rainbow.
So, whether you celebrate Heritage day, Shaka Day or Braai Day – let us use this day embrace and honour the rich cultural history and wealth of our country, in order to build a better tomorrow for all.