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Remarks by ANC MP Thandi Mahambehlala During SONA Debate

His Excellency the President of the Republic

Honourable Deputy President

Speaker and Chairperson of the NCOP

Fellow Members, Allow me to greet you

Madam Speaker

When defining what a democracy is Adam Prewosky captures it as follows: “Democracy is the realm of the intermediate; the future is not written. Conflicts of values and of interests are inherent in all societies. Democracy is needed precisely because we cannot agree. Democracy is only a system for processing conflicts without killing one another; it is a system in which there are differences, conflicts, winners and losers. Conflicts are absent only in the authoritarian systems.”

Inevitably, we accept that there will be conflicts in our democracy. However, we expect that our conflicts/differences may be resolved through consensus. We have every right to demand accountability from our elected representatives.

With this in mind Madam Speaker, allow me to interrogate this question, which has caused so much conflict in this house.

On the face of it asking, when certain monies will be paid back may seem like a valid question.

I would not haste to point out that this question, which has caused so much consternation is premature, this question is a tool used for a populists end. Its premise is that an amount has been determined or we know exactly how much should be paid. Yet nothing could be further from the truth.

The Public Protector herself has not made pronouncements on how much must be paid and what must be paid for? So, how then do we ask when are you going to pay. In essence, honourable members this question is not one predicated out of conviction for accountability, but on opportunism.

This kind of opportunism is not surprising from a group like EFF. They have a leader who has made anarchy and hatred of President Jacob Zuma his ideology. Hon.Julius Malema offers nothing else but hatred and anarchy to this legislature. As some have discovered in his very own clique, he is the embodiment of hypocrisy. Through his rebellious antics, he portrays himself as someone who has conscious.

Perhaps there is light at the end of the tunnel for those held captive to the CULT of COMMANDER IN THIEVES. The rebellion we see in recent times invokes a passage out of George Orwell’s epic work, in the book NINETEEN EIGHTY-FOUR (I quote) “UNTIL THEY BECOME CONSCIOUS THEY WILL NEVER REBEL, AND UNTIL AFTER THEY HAVE REBELLED THEY CANNOT BECOME CONSCIOUS”. (Close quote)

Mister President very little can be done about individuals who attentively listen only to manipulate your words in order for them to display their HATRED of you.

Sadly, opportunism only breeds opportunism and the DA has joined the bandwagon. The Hon Maimane through his rhetoric portrays himself and his organisation as the guardians of the Constitution. Hon Maimane is very quick to run to the court to demand administrative justice.

The premise of this approach is supposedly based on the fact that Liberalism rests with the four pillars, namely: “ACCESS TO JUSTICE”, “FREEDOM OF SPEECH,” “POLITICAL FREEDOM” AND “ECONOMIC FREEDOM”. [Birds of the same feathers flock together]

However, let us look here were they governing, can we find any tangible evidence of them transforming previously disadvantaged communities?

Let us look at Kwa Langa the oldest township in Cape Town, there are no signs of economic development in that community. The most recent example of DA hypocrisy has manifested itself through a matriculant from MANYANO HIGH SCHOOL in Khayelitsha.

MANYANO HIGH SCHOOL has been terrorised by gangsters. Appeals for intervention from the DA administration have been utterly ignored. Despite this, Sanele Mangena a pupil at this very troubled school defied the odds. With the assistance of hardworking, dedicated and excellent teachers Sanele obtained 6 distinctions. Sanele obtained an outstanding 91 percent in Mathematics and 81 percent in Natural Science.

Sadly, had Sanele been white and had he attended school in Constantia, things would have been remarkably different. Race, under the DA administration, is still a central determining factor to access basic rights like the right to Education, which is enshrined in section 29 of our Constitution.

What is it that you protect Hon Mr Maimane, the Constitution or White Privilege?

Faced with a tragic situation, Sanele’s dream found refuge in the ANC constituency office. We could have ran to the courts like the DA, but we chose to be where the actions are.

My constituency office solicited action from the Deputy Minister of Higher Education and Training, the Hon. Mduduzi Manana. Through his intervention we kept Sanele’s dream alive, we applied the letter of the Freedom Charter, the doors of learning shall be open.

Another school, Siphamandla High School obtained a pass rate of 92 % this, amazing achievement was swept under the carpet, the hard work of those teachers was not commended by your Provincial administration Hon Maimane.

Why would you Hon. Maimane represent such an organisation?

An organisation that has steadily protected and advanced white privilege and their interests.

Madam Speaker the DA should be exposed for what it is in this house.

They use the likes of Hon.Maimane as fronts of transformation, whilst in policy they continue to oppress previously disadvantaged communities. This is a classic liberal trait, pretending to be friends of the native, yet stabbing them in the back.

[Chairperson] each one of us sitting here today represent a constituency in this rainbow nation. For example, I carry a mandate to serve our people in Khayelitsha, Hon members my constituency is the incarnation of the inequality some of us so eloquently speak of on this pedestal.

During consultations with the people of Khayelitsha, I am reminded too often that a nation as wealthy as ours should not be custodians of such abject poverty.

[Honourable Speaker] the Freedom Charter does not envision a South Africa in which some of her citizens live in a place where inequality is the order of the day.

We all know the level of inequality in our country is not paralled by most countries and as the gap widens we continue to entrench an economic legacy that our fore bearers sought to eradicate.

[Madam Speaker] there have been numerous approaches by our government to find solutions to this ailment. However, before I move to those solutions, I must emphasise the following, radical policies which have failed in other countries should not be entertained by this legislature. EFF must learn quickly that revolutionary sounding phrases can never be equated to policies.

Our responsibility as legislators is to halt the soaring inequality in a country that is endowed with all kinds of mineral resources and a favourable climate.

Whilst the government continues to produce progressive policies, these policies remain idle on paper if we are not able to implement them.

A stark example of this is here in the Western Cape, where the black communities still resemble the days of apartheid.

The Provincial Government could not be bothered about the economic development of these communities and have made themselves enemies of progress.

Upon taking charge, the DA administration without any explanation shutdown the Real Enterprise Development Agency more affectionately coined as RED DOOR.

RED DOOR helped entrepreneurs in Khayelitsha and Mitchels plain to access loans to kick start their businesses.

Under the DA administration one struggles to find local initiatives that, encourage entrepreneurship in local communities. This type of governance only leads to higher unemployment and poverty, because there is no zeal to nurture entrepreneurship.

As many file into the ANC constituency office daily, looking for a clear alternative to the status quo I remind them, this is not what we envisioned in the Freedom Charter.

I proudly recite a passage from Chief Albert Luthuli’s biography, Let My People Go In which he defined the purpose of the Freedom Charter as follows: Open quote “The purpose of the Freedom Charter is To give flesh and blood meaning in the South African setting, to such words as democracy, freedom, liberty.” Close quote

If the Charter is examined, it will be seen that freedom means the opening up of the opportunity to all South Africans, to live a full and abundant life in terms of country, community and individual.

We shall continue on the path, which the Freedom Charter and Chief Albert Luthuli demands of us. In fact, the ANC Government has always recognised the importance of SMME development, and has a 20-year record of policies and structures to prove it.

In 1992 our seminal policy document Ready to Govern, earmarked local economic development as a pre-requisite to economic transformation. SMMEs in local communities create an inclusive economy and expand access to employment opportunities. Of course, notwithstanding the fact that they radically reduce poverty. So, the assertion that Economic Freedom is a new construct, could not be further from the truth.

Gone are the days when “black ownership of SMMEs in townships was prohibited and in which black entrepreneurs faced prosecution for engaging in SMME activities.” Although the effects still linger in our local municipalities.

[Hon Members] this house must note that focus on local economic development, is in line with international developments. Moreover, it is summoned by the Constitutional order we subscribe to. In order for us to sustain local economies, we cannot avoid addressing the apartheid designed spatial planning, which severely hampers SMMEs and service delivery.

Our government has recognised that SMALL BUSINESS IS BIG BUSINESS; we experience this everyday particularly in our communities. There are many enterprises in our communities, which stand to be assisted by the 30 % procurement strategy alluded to by President Zuma in his SONA ADDRESS.

This strategy can assist these enterprises to grow and propel economic growth along with economic transformation.

Funding agencies like the IDC, which are common across B.R.I.C.S partners, are not only vital to create access to funding for budding entrepreneurs, but also crucial in dealing with the RED TAPE President Zuma highlighted as a challenge.

The creation of a Ministry for Small Business and Co-operatives is a significant step towards transforming our economy.

As we, all should know sustainable Small Businesses and co-operatives have a positive impact on unemployment.

The equation is simple, as Small Businesses and Co-operatives increase in number unemployment will comparably decrease.

Ultimately, this may well affect the quality of the products we consume, as a result of greater competition.

Furthermore, we expect authorities such as the Competition Commission to continue dismantling the legacy of apartheid in our economy. We want to see an economy that is riddled with fierce competition instead of cartels engineered by the old guard. The time for artificial monopolies and oligarchs is over.

In recent history, the Competition Commission has made it possible for small bakeries here in the Western Cape to thrive again, after breaking the back of a bread cartel.

To this end, we commend them on the dynamic interventions in our economy such as imposing a fine of R 500 million part of which was used to create Agro-processing Competitiveness Fund (“Agri-fund”), a commitment which has had a direct impact on consumers ( Like you and me).

Honourable Members in order to build new locally based industries, organisations such as the IDC need to continue investing more in our local businesses.

The R 2, 7 Billion Rands earmarked by President Zuma will go a long way in addressing the financial barriers that start-up young entrepreneurs face.

As ITAC carefully balances the number of imports in our country, ITAC will have a crucial role to play.

Our economy cannot afford not to be competitive because of sporadic dumping in our markets.

Hon President, these are many challenges the majority of South Africans have elected this legislature to resolve and we have risen to that challenge and will continue to toil for the betterment on our people’s lives.

Fellow South Africans every nation has its challenges and South Africa is not unique in this respect. Maybe, what is unique about South Africa is that we as citizens and legislators have chosen to blame one individual for our challenges.

Some amongst, have bought into this ludicrous mode of thinking, which demands:

  • Racial denialism.
  • An unfounded hatred of the black majority.
  • And refusal to take stock of the impact of apartheid.

As a result, we have chosen to abdicate our constitutional responsibility, which is to improve the quality of life of all citizens and free the potential of each person as enshrined in the preamble of our constitution.

Fellow lawmakers I implore you, to stop personalizing South Africa’s problems around one individual and bring to this house captivating solutions.

To this end, I am proud to be a member of the African National Congress because through the Freedom Charter South Africans have the prescript of the country they desire.

Each one of us on this side of the House will not rest on our laurels until we arrive at the society envisioned by the Freedom Charter.

We will not rest on our laurels until Nonqaba in Philippi is able to start a business with the help of the IDC without being hamstrung by red tape.

We will not rest on our laurels until Khayelitsha and many communities, across South Africa are industrial hubs that meet the basic needs of its inhabitants.

We will not rest on our laurels until we see an increase and growth of small businesses and co-operatives, which are inclusive and result in shared economic growth and job creation through public and private sector procurement

Our vision for this nation is best captured by one of our Luminaries {Oliver Reginald Tambo}, when he said- I quote

“We of the African National Congress visualize a South Africa in which people shall govern, in which the wealth of the country shall be restored to the people and where the land shall be shared among those who work it. We aim to establish a society free from the exploitation of man by man”


I thank you

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