By Mntomuhle B Khawula, MP
Hon Chairperson of Council
Your Excellency, The President
Schedule 2 of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa requires the President of the country to take an oath or solemn affirmation on assuming office. The Presidential oath is a pledge of loyalty, of service before self, of integrity, of supporting and defending the constitution of the country and all its laws. The Constitution of the Republic enjoys supremacy and provides guidance, including but not limited to, moral direction to the office bearers.
It is unfortunate and somewhat disheartening that the President of South Africa views a political party as coming first than the country itself. There is no oath of office for membership of a political party. On the other hand, the President of a country is Head of government and citizenry custodian to all the citizens of the country, irrespective of whatever belief and political or non-political membership.
During the course of 2015, South Africa has experienced the unprecedented, alarming increase of protest actions in different parts of the country. Some notable ones among these have been:
- The violent Malamulele protest actions on dissatisfaction with the new demarcation boundaries.
- The Rhodes Must Fall protests- and other related protests.
- The Fees Must Fall protest action by students throughout the country.
- As we speak the industrial action by Nehawu is right at the doorstep of Parliament.
Records reflect that in 2011-12 South Africa had 11 938 protests.
- In 2012/13 South Africa had 12 399 protests
- In 2013-14 South Africa had 13 575 protests.
Each of these years recorded an increase instead of a decline in protest actions in the country.
When tabling the Medium-Term Budget in October, the Minister of Finance, amongst other things, warned of the country’s weak economic growth, the financial distress of some state owned enterprises and the sky rocketing wage bill of the public sector. As a result, the economic growth percentage forecast at 2% for this year was lowered to 1.5%. The 2016 economic growth forecast of 2.4% was lowered to 1.7%. Unemployment, especially for the youth, which has for a long time been cause for concern, is likely to remain with us for a long unforeseeable future.
And instead of improving, the situation is getting worse day by day with more jobs being laid off, and more industries relocating out of the country. Under these circumstances, instead of serious belt tightening in spending patterns in the public sector, the Auditor General has once more raised concerns on irregular expenditure which totalled R25 billion in the previous financial year. He has raised concern of the big spending departments of Education, Health and Public Works, especially in the provinces, which continue to struggle with their proper financial accounting.
Conclusions to these misfortune happenings provide a real scary scenario, Hon President. There is a crisis in the leadership of the country at almost all levels of governance. South Africa has a leadership in government that is highly convincing in making promises, and next to naught in delivery on the promises made.
Let me divert a little and refer to an interesting conversation of just two days ago. When interviewed on these matters on eNCA, the former Premier of Mpumalanga province, Hon Matthew Phosa had this to say: “The ANC promise around better life for all was highly pitched.”
“There is no money, and government must come out clean and tell South Africans: there is no money for promises made”
He goes on to say:
“The economy of the country is in a bad shape. The SABC is badly managed. Nkandla issue equals corruption.”
“There is concern around Constitutional matters in the country. The Constitution comes first -and this is a matter of common sense”
These are very deep comments, especially coming from within the circles of the ruling party itself. Hon President; these comments have been made against the background of related comments and concerns having been raised previously by former President Motlante, around the issues of corruption and leadership. Related comments have also been raised in the past by former President Mbeki. Why are all these highly ranked South African and international figures seeing exactly what the opposition is also seeing in the country. This tells me and millions others that these are not just matters of political opposition to the ruling party. They are matters, around which, a sense of humour is no more an appealing response to dismiss the reality. But they require serious interventions by seriously and caringly concerned leadership. If at this stage of events this cannot be realised, then “Lord” help us all.
Like the ANC has always been saying, the IFP agrees with the sentiment that indeed; South Africa after 1994 is a much better country than it was before 1994. But the concern that we should all share with fear is that the climax that South Africa reached post-independence has been anti-climaxing over the past six, seven years.
Therefore, at a time like this when the moral compass is at a crossroads, and reason cannot appeal to pride for swallowing of denial and acceptance of reality, one can only repeat the great words of Allan Patton: “Cry the Beloved Country.” Of course, in another setting!
I thank you.