SA: Brett Herron, Address by GOOD Secretary-General and Member of Parliament, as part of RISE Mzansi's The People’s Convention held in Johannesburg (06/10/23)

6th October 2023

Distinguished Leaders, guests, members. Friends.

It is a great privilege to be invited to deliver a message of support for this Convention at this historic venue on Constitutional Hill. 

In fact, I must tell you that on my visits to Johannesburg, I quite often come here to Constitutional Hill. It is a place of somber reflection. It’s a place that reminds me of where we’ve come from as a country and the victories that we have achieved.  

But I must admit that it has also become a place that increasingly invokes negative emotions in me: of a vision unrealised, wounds unhealed, victims still yearning for justice and the plight of the people still neglected. 

The GOOD Party was formed to answer this injustice, through the four founding pillars which underpin our movement: economic justice, social justice, spatial justice and environmental justice. 

But, unfortunately, there are increasingly fewer political actors that still share this progressive vision for justice, equality and true reconciliation in South Africa. 

As the ruling party’s decline accelerates, we are seeing a rise of populism and the consolidation of right-wing forces.

This provides a grave threat to political stability in South Africa, and threatens the resilience of our social fabric. 

But parties like Rise Mzansi (and ours!) give me hope. Like many South Africans, I first got to know Songezo Zibi through his book, Manifesto.

As soon as I started reading it, I knew that we had found an ally in this fight. 

We are friends, not enemies. We share your values of Freedom, Equality, Integrity, Solidarity and Justice. 

As South Africa moves from a dominant-party democracy, into an era of coalitions characterised by inter-party co-operation, our political culture must change with it.

South Africans are sick of the divisive, adversarial and immature rhetoric that has punctuated the political scene in this country for far too long.

They want our leaders to check their egos at the door, show maturity and come together to forge sensible, selfless solutions to the serious problems that we face.

South Africa is the most unequal country on this earth. The scars of its shameful history still define the destiny of its victims. Poverty and unemployment abound. The state of its public finances is perilous, exaggerated by astonishing levels of corruption and maladministration. Globally, the world faces its greatest ever existential threat as our planet warms to irreversible levels, bringing with it devastating weather events, exaggerated resource inequality, and a new wave of migration as people seek refuge from regions that will soon become uninhabitable unless drastic and urgent actions are taken. 

South Africa finds itself in an energy crisis fuelled by its dogmatic devotion to a carbon-intensive economy. It risks being left behind as the world transitions to a green future, leaving critical assets stranded and closing the taps on some of our major exports.

Like with most other things, it will be the poor who suffer the harshest effects. As leaders, our first and foremost priority is to protect the most vulnerable members of our society. As GOOD, we feel that the foundational ingredients to dignity are a safe space to call home, and a basic income that at least meets the food poverty line. 

The provision and expansion of social security is unavoidable in our view, given the reality that by even the most optimistic growth forecasts, the gross number of unemployed persons will not materially decline when population growth is factored in.

In the context of these severe challenges, how can we not but offer our most sincere support to this, the People’s Convention of Rise Mzansi, designed to enable serious discussion aimed to forging solutions to these problems. 

And while there is good reason for a degree of pessimism in South Africa in the present moment, I also find room for great hope.

Beyond the scar tissue of the fights behind us, a new generation is bubbling to the surface. It is a generation that speaks of justice, of equity, of sustainability and of love in any form and without judgement. 

It is a generation that craves unity and a future that is worth fighting for. We have a responsibility to fight their fight for them, and fight it alongside them rather than from above them.

Finally, as I speak today on behalf of GOOD, it would be remiss of me not to extend the very best wishes of our Leader, Patricia de Lille, who would love to be able to be here today but, I’m afraid, the President gets to veto her diary!

Aunty Pat was once the spearhead of another bubbling new generation that wanted to disrupt the status quo and secure a fairer and just future for her compatriots. Along with many other heroes of our nation, she won that fight. 

Change is possible.

Now again it’s time for the GOOD people to RISE up and triumph over evil. 

I wish Rise Mzansi the very best for these important policy discussions. So long as it is the good of the people that you seek, GOOD will always stand beside you.


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