Source: Congress of the People
Title: Cope: Dandala: Address by Cope's Presidential candidate at the University of Pretoria
Let me thank you very heartily for extending this important invitation to share ideas about the challenges facing our beautiful country. Today I want to share with your our vision for South Africa. What we need in this country is the revival of the African values of Ubuntu, the African values of Botho. The Congress of the People has a plan to revive these values. Through our manifesto: A new Agenda we set out a thirteen part plan to build a Value Centred Society where we tap into the diversity and talents of all our people - black and white. There are those in our society who want to play the tribe and race cards to the detriment of our fledging nation. What we need is to reclaim the dream of 1994 where we seek to close the chasms of racism, colonialism and tribalism - hall marks of how Apartheid conducted its business. The best way to reclaim this dream of 1994 is to revive the values of honesty, accountability as well as compassion. The goal has to be One South Africa for its entire people, a South Africa that is a winning nation.
We need a new government to do this - because after three elections and fifteen years of trying there is a need to make the observation that while policies, good policies, are in place - implementation has been bad to say the least. A value centred society needs a clean government that will subscribe to the values of honesty; a government that listens and will subscribe to the values of accountability and a government that adheres to the values of compassion - a government that cares. This friends, is the reason we need a New Agenda. An agenda that will bring about changes that will realise this value centred society, a new Agenda that will lift our people out of the despondency of poverty, want and disease and give them hope for a better South Africa. Hope to reclaim the dream of 1994.
The Value of Honesty
The Congress of the People acknowledges the need for us a nation to prioritise the war against corruption. Corruption eats into the moral fibre of our nation and in turn undermines confidence in the nation's governing systems. Moreover its underlying immorality is that it takes away resources from the poorest of the poor and lines the pockets of the greedy. For democracy to function effectively it is essential that the process and systems of governance are trusted by the citizen implicitly. The citizens must have confidence that these processes are not subject to the whims of any individual and cannot be bent to suit the personal interests of any single individual.
This has been one of the major concerns with the government of the African National Congress. When the Mbeki government took steps against the then Deputy President Jacob Zuma the country felt that at least there was some moral commitment to address allegations of corruption firmly, speedily and transparently. Instead we saw incredible indecisiveness with the subsequent cases like that of Mr Selebi, the travel gate scandal and the controversy surrounding the suspension and dismissal of Vusi Pikoli, the National Director of Public prosecution. These clouded the resolve to deal with these challenges firmly in the overall fight against corruption. The disbanding of the corruption and crime fighting unit, the scorpions also set back this fight many years - especially as it seems that this was done to shield politicians in particular from the sting of the scorpions - a sting that has seen over eighty percent successful prosecution rate since its establishment. There is no good reason advanced to disband the scorpions. This irresponsible disbanding of the scorpion was an implementation a polokwane resolution adopted by a few delegates of the ANC and endangering the lives of millions of ordinary South Africans who want to be free of corrupt leaders and be safe in their homes in the knowledge of the existence of an effective crime busting unit like the Scorpions. What this act alone has done is to give criminals especially syndicates, the space to think they can carry on their wanton harassment of law abiding citizens. Through a clean government that will embrace the value of honesty we will reinstate the scorpions without delay in line with the Khampepe commission that will see the best of our police force skills being brought to bear on cracking the criminal syndicates and keeping corrupt people, including politicians, on their toes. This friends, is living the value of honesty where criminals will have no place to hide.
When corrupt elements are caught we will not celebrate them and hold them shoulder high to serve their prison sentences. We will not celebrate them by electing them to positions of leadership despite corruption allegations being proffered against them. Instead we will argue that special courts to deal with corruption must be established and strengthened in order for corruption to be dealt with speedily. A COPE government will not give parole willy-nilly to those who ought to serve their full time for corruption related crimes. We will never seek to protect our own leaders by intervening in their cases - we will allow the rule of law to take its course so that whoever is found guilty must face the full wrath of the law. My friends, you have plenty of examples from around the world of what will happen to our country if we allowed the leaders in our country to have one set of laws that apply to them and another that applies to the rest of us. The degeneration of many countries has always started with leaders fooling around with the rule of law. Our neighbour north of us is a classic example. It can happen to South Africa. The government of the Congress of the people will not allow that to happen to South Africa. In building a value centred society we must all respect the rule of law.
Our new agenda for change and hope will see us implement the following:
• The revision of the tender system to eliminate corruption.
• Protect whistleblowers so that communities can join the fight against crime and corruption.
• Work with communities and community based organisations and NGOs to build safer places where we live;
• Have specialised programs and activities to focus on discouraging youth from engaging in criminal activities;
• Strengthen the coherence of the SAPS by ensuring that the SAPS delivers a quality, professional, non-partisan service to the members of the public (Section 199, (7) a and b and that visible policing is made a matter of priority;
• With the South African Police Service (SAPS) improve its capacity to fight crime through increasing the numbers of personnel, the quality of their training, the plain clothes police and the crime intelligence capability of the police;
• The reinstatement of the Scorpions in line with Khampepe Commission recommendations.
The Value of Compassion.
South Africa needs a government that cares. A compassionate government will deal with the challenges of poverty and disease engulfing our populations today. Built into our system of government is the issue of social grants. A COPE government has no reason to discontinue this. Those who are peddling information to the opposite effect are not truthful. We are painfully aware of the hunger besetting many of our communities. We will ensure that the social grants system is strengthened. What we read in the press - that billions destined for the poor to strengthen such a system is once again covered in the cloud of suspected corruption is indeed disturbing. The Congress of the people government will prioritise the process to get to the bottom of allegations of impropriety in this regard. The use of this system, including the distribution of food parcels as electioneering too, is immoral and insulting to the poor who need this assistance daily rather than when we are soliciting their votes.
The government of the Congress of the People understands that while the social grants play an important role in the alleviation of poverty, they are not the ultimate solution we need. The Social grants system must be about restoring the dignity of our people. The success of our economic interventions and the achievement of ultimate dignity are measured with the extent to which our people's dependence on social grants will be reduced and their ability to provide for themselves and their families enhanced. Creating jobs for our people where they live is the best way to express our value of compassion as a society.
It is clear that the major challenge that requires a will and determination is that of hunger, poverty and unemployment amongst the youth. In response to hunger a COPE government will take the right to food for all South Africans very seriously. In a country of our resource base there is no reason why any South African should go to bed hungry. A government that cares must engender a caring society in turn where NGO's, Business and Government work together to uplift communities and win the war against hunger. The COPE government embraces the centrality of the right to food for all our citizens.
Social Workers in a fight against hunger
In order to win the war against poverty there is a need to increase drastically the number of social workers who live and work amongst communities to assist them to access government benefits as well as economic opportunities that would help them lift themselves out of poverty.
Those of your in institutions of academic learning need to be part of the solution to re engineer the economy especially in rural areas. There is a need to improve and increase the skills base of our country in neglected areas such as agriculture. Institutions must encourage students to take up more careers in Agricultural sciences. Agricultural officers who must live amongst the our people in rural areas, need to be strengthened and resourced to enable communities to access government grants, implements, seedlings, irrigation systems as well as mentorship programmes that will help increase their ability to be productive and compete well in the produce market where they can derive a sustainable income.
As we speak - government has bought through the land distribution programmes over 2500 farms which have not yet been put to productive use. In this context it is alarming to hear the minister of agriculture threatening communities to repossess their land which they were given through this process, on the basis that they are not productive. Rather she should acknowledge the failures of the government on empowering and guiding the new owners of that land on how to put it to productive use. A COPE government that cares will never simply threaten communities and say ‘use it or lose it' - but will seek to work with communities in what could easily be an economic intervention that can give many of our people hope. South Africa has enough experienced people, black and white, who are ready to impart their knowledge and skills to the broad South African community to make South Africa a winning nation. The Congress of the people central aim is to create an atmosphere in the country where all our people will feel needed and contribute to the transformation of our entire national life.
Spreading economic opportunities
A caring government we envisage will focus on spreading economic opportunities. The youth are key in making this happen. At present there are less than ten percent of young people who own their own businesses. This culture must change. As you pursue your studies you need to think beyond waiting to work for someone. It is time we have more of you desiring to be creators of jobs as opposed to being job seekers. In many ways this is the solution to breaking the cycle of unemployment where so many graduates sit at home with qualifications that do not translate into gainful employment or income stream for them and their families.
The policy of Black Economic Empowerment that a COPE government will strengthen needs to focus on developing these enterprises that we are calling for. Areas of preferential procurement and skills development need to be monitored a lot closer than it happened since the BEE Act was passed. The envisaged BEE council needs to be implemented urgently.
A government that cares will also make sure that the fruit of the economy is spread amongst all its people. The redistribution of wealth through both BEE and AA should be seen as a nation building tool that will make sure that all South Africans are united in the desire for an economy that takes care of all its citizens. It should be made clear that Affirmative Action can only succeed if all races collaborate around it. One of the critical ingredients of its success for example is mentorship. Those who have acquired skills over the years are still needed by the country to transfer these skills to many more people. The current AA law still envisages that in five years 40 percent of the work force should consist of those that are historically disadvantaged. Will there be space for white graduates in the work force? Absolutely. Will there be preference for those who may be black, women, and disabled. Indeed. If we are to build an economy where all can benefit, such a positive redress will benefit the economy in the long run.
But our economy and the need for skills is so widespread that there is no reason for anyone with skills to be out of a job. Put differently if you abolished AA tomorrow you will not achieve stability that would build up our economy when the majority feel excluded or hard done by. It is for this reason that AA must never be seen as a problem to be addressed by black people only. Like BEE it needs to be monitored closely so that it achieves its stated policy. The current set up where less that 2 percent of the JSE is in the hands of black business is unacceptable in a country with our demographics, 15 years after democracy. These issues need to be debated openly and transparently with all our people so that all population groups can see and understand the value of this approach for the benefit of all South Africans.
One of the biggest disappointments of the past fifteen years has been the degeneration of the health care facilities. Many of our hospitals do not have adequate facilities to offer the kind of service that our people need and deserve. Not to say anything about the frustration suffered by our professional health workers hence the temptation to look for opportunities outside the country. This depletes the already suffering capacities. It is a shame that in a country like South Africa we have areas where a clinic is miles away and hospitals very few to cater for the increasing health needs. It is a shame for patients to run out of medication while in admission. A wheel and spoke situation where feeder clinics will be linked to main medical centres needs to be established as a matter of urgency to deal with the health backlog in many areas.
The HIV/AIDS pandemic continues to be one of the challenges that can undo the future of our country. We need a healthy South Africa. That HIV Causes Aids is beyond dispute. All our policies moves from this simple assumption and will see a COPE government implementing the national HIV/Aids strategy where treatment care and support for those affected and infected will be implemented. Our biggest challenges as a society are to remove the stigma associated with HIV/Aids in order to ensure that we can reach many people who require assistance in dealing with this pandemic.
The Value of Accountability
All of these things we want to do cannot happen if we don't have a government that listens to the people. A value missing in our society is that of accountability. This is what COPE is calling for a change in the electoral system where we will vote for the president the mayor and the premiers of or our country. So that we are not presented with surprise leaders we did not choose directly. COPE has announced its presidential and premier candidates for this reason. You the people can judge them - whether they are good enough to lead you. On the 22nd April you have an opportunity to choose leaders that you believe South Africa deserves. A Cope government will:
• enable people to directly elect their most senior representatives, namely, the President of the Republic, the Provincial Premiers, as well as the Metro, District and Local Mayors;
• ensure that these popularly elected officials should only be removed from office by the people, through clearly defined procedures and mechanisms;
• ensure the people directly elect their public representatives to the national and provincial legislatures in the same way as happens at municipal level;
• ensure that the national and provincial governments should have procedures defined by law, to report and account to the people and publicly to report on the content and outcome of these processes;
• put processes in place to provide incentives encouraging the people actively to participate in the country's system of governance;
In Conclusion: The Role of Institutions of higher learning
Universities are the microcosm of society. So this value centred society we propagate must produce institutions of higher education that espouse even higher values. These institutions must be the bastion of the independence of thought. ‘They think therefore they are'...if they stop being places where opposing views can be exchanged they would cease to be universities. Universities must be home to Universal thought, thought that transcends all prejudice. That is why the harassment of Prof Pityana - A VC of UNISA - for being a supporter of COPE is a shame. I challenge the Association of University Vice Chancellors to speak out against any conduct that seeks to curtail political thought from taking root at universities. The declarations of any University as a no go zone must be condemned without fail by these leaders of our institutions. This University has to be at the fore front of making sure we can build a nation that is not afraid of thought. But more importantly that is not afraid of change.
The incident at the University of the Free State a while ago has shamed our nation. Just when we thought we are down the line to becoming one nation. In many ways that incident took the struggle against racism back many years. At the same time it also focused us on the transformation question at all of our Universities. You know better the progress we have made here and you will know better what needs to be done. You can rely on a COPE government to support your endeavours to increase access to students; to increase financial aid to make education a right of all South Africans who knock at your door for education.
You need to be ensuring that you produce teachers who can uplift our primary education to prepare our children for the world of work. Government on its side will ensure that infrastructure for such conducive learning happens. The situation where schools are oversubscribed because of the lack of teachers or where teachers are ill equipped to produce science students for example is unacceptable and needs to be addressed as a matter of urgency. In this regard, a phenomenon that sees our children studying under trees is a scandal for a country with our resource base where budgets are returned to the central government without being spent. In the face of such dire needs this is really scandalous.
Finally our country will be much poorer without the intervention of Universities in our national discourse. The academic fraternity must speak out against the departure from our constitution and values. I call on all universities and their academics in particular to debate how we can build a value centred society. How can we incorporate the teaching of values in each and every academic stream, how can we live these values in conducting the business of these institutions? How can we bring about change in these institutions so that it can rub off society?
From our end we know that in order for South Africa to experience these changes it is time for an alternative government. So can the ANC be our coalition partner? They would have to abandon quite a lot to qualify - something we believe is impossible. Our values will be the basis on which post the elections we will determine who we can build with a value centred society we are calling for. We are clear in our minds that we are ready to govern this country.
COPE calls on you to mark the moment that is upon us. We believe that the Time for change has come, Time for hope has come. Time for COPE is here. Let us together build a new society rooted on values we can all be proud of, values that will produce a caring society.