by Harold McGluwa, MPL – DA Northern Cape Provincial Chairperson & Chief Whip of the Provincial Caucus
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Date: 26 April 2018
Note to editors: The following speech was delivered in the Northern Cape Provincial Legislature today by the DA Provincial Chairperson in the Northern Cape, Harold McGluwa, MPL, during the debate on Freedom Day.
For the past 24 years, Freedom Day continues to be an annual celebration of our first non-racial democracy. Peace, unity, the preservation and the restoration of human dignity are hallmarks of Freedom Day celebrations that take place on the 27th of April each year.
Freedom Day also gives praise, recognition and thanks to all who fought against inequality and discrimination. They should be remembered for the selfless sacrifices they made against apartheid, towards the attainment of peace, freedom and democracy.
Indeed Honourable Speaker, former President Nelson Mandela, our first democratic leader of this country, would have been celebrating his 100th birthday this year.
Let me also take this opportunity to pay my respects to the late ‘Mama’ Winnie Madikizela Mandela. She laid her life on the line to fight in the struggle of this country, to bring total change and freedom. Her death reminds us of the terrible past from which we have come as a nation; the great possibilities that we have; and the bright future that signals ahead of us. We’ve lost an icon. We’ve lost a freedom fighter. We owe her a great gratitude. May her soul rest in peace.
Honourable Speaker, on 27 April 1994, we, the people, took our destiny into our own hands. It was the crossing of the divide from a past of conflict and division to the possibility of unity and peace, from inequality to equality, from a history of oppression to a future of freedom and dignity.
Our freedom, however, demands from all of us to exercise our rights as citizens; and to do so without infringing on the rights of others.
As we move into the twenty fourth Freedom Year of our democracy, we need to ask ourselves if we indeed created a better future?
Looking at the current state of affairs, many will say NO. Why you might ask?
Honourable Speaker, our country is bound to corruption and state capture. The capture of our government is the epitome of corruption.
We are dealing with corrupt and selfish public representatives who use public funds to better their own lives instead of uplifting the people of our country. In the news now, is the case of the leader, whom it is alleged obtained R1.1 million worth of bursaries for his son and used public funds to buy R1.5 million worth of prime cattle, which is alleged to have been sent to Nkandla.
This is a slap in the face of our people, who suffer without jobs, houses, proper health care and a reliable education system for all.
Corruption is taking its toll on our country and our people and we, as leaders, need to blame ourselves.
Honourable Speaker, failure to provide basic services is what keeps us prisoners of high levels of poverty, unemployment and inequality and prevents us from achieving a better future.
One major area of concern which we discussed within this House for some time is the collapse of the provincial health department. This department experiences shortages of medicine, medical supplies and health professionals, the inability to pay service providers and high medico-legal claims.
We are currently facing a state of violent protests due to service delivery issues. Shops are looted and state property is damaged right here on our doorsteps. In Roodepan and Florianville, learners experienced schooling disruptions while being used as bait in an attempt to grab government’s attention.
The call from government for the army to intervene is has raised alarm bells. Surely this is not the freedom we fought for.
The Northern Cape has experienced a number of farm attacks this year.
We cannot celebrate freedom when our farmers and farm workers do not feel safe and fear for their lives in their own homes.
Honourable Speaker, the DA welcomes the recent sentencing of Vicki Momberg on charges of crimen injuria; recently Rajesh Gopie, a well-known actor who called people ‘baboons’, and the Hartswater farmer who drove over an EFF member in an apparent racial incident.
These racial attacks are holding our country back from truly celebrating our freedom.
Honourable Speaker, millions of South Africans are living in poverty, it’s difficult and unfair to say to poor people in a democratic South Africa on Freedom Day, that they should just forget their problems and their empty stomachs and celebrate their political freedom.
It is important to note, that “freedom” should mean also emancipation from poverty, unemployment, racism, sexism and other forms of discrimination. It is concerning that 24-years into our democracy, these issues are still rife in our country. I believe that some of our nation’s political organizations are sometimes promoting the demon of racism in our society. Leaders of political parties and members of the community at large, we have a duty to work very hard to curb this evil that wants to destroy our peace and freedom.
I think it is fair to say that, our people have gained political freedom, far too few of them have benefitted from economic freedom.
Honourable Speaker, South Africans can bring true change by participating in our democracy. Not only does this require a process of self-analysis and taking stock of how we got here today, but it is also extremely important for us to reflect honestly about where we are going. We cannot do and say the same old things and expect different results.
South Africans can also bring true change by ensuring that everyone registers to vote for a better life in the next general election.
We need to restore our beloved country. We need real freedom. We have been waiting far too long for a new dawn. Yes, indeed, many South Africans today are saying “DA, we need a signal. DA, give us the signal.”
Honourable Speaker, Freedom Day serves to highlight the responsibility of Government to provide leadership to ease the racial tension that has disrupted our nation’s peace over the past year.
We must remember the words of Nelson Mandela when he told us and I quote, “with freedom comes responsibilities and that the obligation is placed on all of us to reconstruct and build our country”.
There is no short-cut in making South Africa the country of our dreams.
Enriched by the experience of the First Freedom Year, let us work together, with each other and for each other. Honourable Speaker, as we and our people celebrate Freedom Day, let us commit ourselves to the principles contained in our wonderful Constitution, proclaiming our own rights, but especially the rights of the poor and marginalized.
Together we must also restore the moral fabric of our society.
Let us use Freedom Day to celebrate the achievements of the past, admit the failures of the past and present and plan diligently for new victories in the future.