National Assembly: 15 February 2010
Having spent ten years in Government, I am
aware of both the great challenges which have confronted us since
1994 and of how much still remains to be done to meet the minimum
objectives promised with our liberation. I was committed to the
agenda of social and economic liberation while I was in Government,
and I remain committed to it from the opposition benches.
Last week the President often referred to us
all as being "compatriots", and indeed we are. In addition, I
respect the President, warts and all, because behind him - rightly
or wrongly - lies the will and democratic mandate of 66% of the
South African people. I could not hinder or oppose him without
opposing the South African people. However, I must differentiate
between the will of the South African people and that which is
required to deliver to the people what they expect.
In this critical time the President stands
to fail and words alone will not fix problems. I cannot afford to
see the President and his Government fail.
If they fail, my own country fails. If the
President and his Government fail, I will not applaud and rejoice,
but weep; for if they fail, our liberation fails. In this time of
economic turbulence and enormous challenges, we are in this boat
together and together we will either sail or sink. Therefore, the
type of engagement I seek and offer the President is in the
recognition that my admonitions, criticism and insight is being
offered with no interest in mind but the success of our country and
the survival of our liberation process.
From this perspective, I must denounce and
warn against the practice of making exaggerated and unrealistic
promises, which Government has pursued and does not seem to be
willing to ever relinquish. We must stop insulting the intelligence
of our people, especially the poorest of the poor. We are
experiencing social ruptures, widespread protests and ever-rising
dissatisfaction because what was promised has not been delivered.
This cannot be addressed by promising more, unless we wish to see
the social unrest rising out of control into a wave which wipes us
I am convinced, Mr President, that if we
stop treating our people as if they are morons, by promising them
pies in the sky, they will be with us. We do not need to promise
what can obviously not be delivered. After all, we are not even in
this democratic dispensation for that long. We knew that we started
governing a people the majority of whom comprise the poorest of the
poor; people who were deliberately kept under conditions of
deprivation. Let us not therefore pretend to be latter day Pied
Pipers of Hamelin. The Pied Piper, according to the fable, blew his
pipe and all the rats followed him.
We must not pretend to our people that we
have any magic wands. We should refrain from insulting our people by
running to them with food hampers during elections, which we know
cannot be sustained.
This Government cannot continue to try and
be everything to everyone. This is the time to take a developmental
direction and pursue it with single-minded determination. The
economic and social crises require firm stewardship. In this
process, I plead with the President to heed my admonition rather
than the call for easy populism and radicalism, often fuelled by a
long-obsolete communist mindset.
Before it hit South Africa, I warned the
government that we would not be spared from the mounting world
economic depression. In the same week, there was a 'Financial Mail'
cover story with our then Honourable Minister of Finance's
photograph on the cover, in which the Minister was saying that
according to Government Advisors we will not be as ravaged by the
recession as other countries. The impression was that depression
would bypass South Africa. Thereafter, from our benches we warned
the Government not to give excessive credence to the same economic
advisors who are now touting the exaggerated promise of a quick
economic recovery, looking for green shoots in the underbush of a
dying forest of economic depression. Do we want to brand ourselves
as a Nation of denialism? We have been in denial, whether it came to
crime or whether it was HIV/AIDS.
I praise the President for the announcement
he made about the new long-term programme of infrastructural
development. But it will take time before its economic benefits will
be felt. In the meantime we need to deal with the projected downturn
in the construction industry after the third quarter, which will
coincide with the recessionary effects always following the
completion of the infrastructural work and expenses associated with
World Cups or Olympic Games. I fear that the people of South Africa
are going to experience much greater economic anguish after August
this year, and we must prepare for that.
Our economic vision must be clear and avoid
all which is confusing. The talk of nationalisation is most
detrimental as is the ambiguity with which the President has fudged
this issue when he said that the matter is open for debate. If we
don't make the clear and unequivocal statement that we shall not
nationalize anything which can stand on its economic feet in this
time of crisis, we will deter domestic and foreign investors who
might look at South Africa as a land of opportunity.
I must admit that as we grew up as young
African Nationalists in the ANC we were quite fascinated by
nationalisation. I paid two visits to the late President Julius
Nyerere. My first trip was paid to Mwalimu to thank him for giving
sanctuary to all our political exiles. On the second occasion I
wanted to see UJAMA - African Socialism in operation. President
Nyerere was a very honest politician. He gave me his book '10 YEARS
AFTER ARUSHA'. And he was already admitting some of his mistakes in
implementing African Socialism - UJAMA.
In 1994 when President Nyerere came to South
Africa, he visited me in my office as Minister of Home Affairs. He
told me that in 1980 he said the following words to President
Mugabe, when he was then installed as the first Prime Minister of a
democratic Zimbabwe: "You have inherited a jewel (referring to the
economy of Zimbabwe). Don't do what I did in Tanzania.
Don't destroy it." The rest is history!
My stand against nationalisation is not
inconsistent with my having voiced in this House for three years the
need of nationalising the Reserve Bank, as was done in the United
Kingdom, so that Government may begin regaining control over what we
use as our money and hope that we may one day move towards a
We must go beyond the commitment not to
nationalise, to adopt the policy of privatizing anything which will
be better off if relinquished from Government ownership and which
taxpayers have no business in financing. Our anguished taxpayers
have no reason to continue to pay the bill for companies that
operate at a perpetual loss, only because they have found in the
State an indulgent sugar-daddy who continues to pour out money with
no hope of return, such as Denel and South African Airways. If
privatized, these companies will find their right positioning in the
A year has passed and little has been done
to bring about the savings promised last year, with the prospect of
the taxpayer having to continue to pay for the constant
mismanagement of the Land Bank and many other State entities which
have now been out of control for years. I urge the President to
speak with one tongue and with a loud voice, to provide iron-fist
leadership in economic matters and cut into positions of privilege,
consolidated economic turf and institutional corruption, without
fear of inflicting pain or creating resentment; for the rest of the
country will recognize and applaud his leadership. To him I say: be
merciless in shutting down the many State institutions which do not
deliver, and re-direct their funding towards those which do. I know
that the President referred to what he called a review of the
parastatals in his interview with the SABC on Saturday. We must now
move beyond just rhetoric on this issue.
This is not a time in which the country can
endure hesitation or a wishy-washy benevolent style of leadership.
At the risk of his unpopularity, it is time for the President to
rise to the challenge of being tough and determined. If one tries
to be all things to all men one ends up being neither fish nor fowl!
The priorities he identified for us have
remained unchanged since 1994. They are the health crisis, the
education crisis, the crime and corruption crises, the unemployment
crisis and the rural development challenge. As these problems have
become worse since 1994, we must accept that they are not going to
be solved within the present paradigm. Albert Einstein defined
madness as expecting different results while continuing to do the
In education we must have the courage of
failing teachers who do not produce results and stop this nonsense
of refusing to perform a thorough assessment of teachers' skills and
education. A teacher whose class does not obtain the desired results
for two years in a row should be immediately dismissed, as should
the Principal of a school with poor results. Please, Mr President,
implement what you have announced. The plight of our education
system is so serious that the President need not be intimidated by
the threats of the Teachers' Union.
As the President knows, in the erstwhile
KwaZulu we had a much higher pass rate than we now have in the very
same schools, in spite of the standard having been lowered and the
amount of money spent for education and teacher training
dramatically increased. This is unacceptable. As a country we cannot
afford to lower educational and exam standards, unless we wish to
commit national suicide by instalments.
The crime situation is out of control.
According to the crime statistics published on NationMaster.com
South Africa has the highest per capita level of murder by firearm,
rape and assault anywhere in the world where crime statistics exist,
and has the second highest level of murder by means other than
firearms. The solution to this massive crisis is not through quick
fixes, such as calling on the police to become trigger-happy, at the
risk of slaughtering innocent bystanders and suspects alike.
Let's face it; generally speaking, our
police do not have the required capacity to identify and interrogate
witnesses, to collect and secure evidence, and prepare and present
cases for prosecution. This is a result of both lack of training and
lack of resources. The fundamental problem with crime is that most
criminals have a legitimate expectation of impunity. In most parts
of our country, crime is still amateurish. But as it flourishes, the
crime industry becomes better organized, which will find our police
even less prepared to cope with what is likely to come. Let us no
longer rely on words, words, words. We need better trained and
better resourced policemen, and higher standards which may force
those who do not live up to the new required levels of output,
performance, training and education to leave the force and find
other opportunities for employment.
We cannot continue to carry deadwood in the
police service and in the public service alike. After 1994 it was
unavoidable and necessary for a number of insufficiently-qualified
people to be inserted in the public service or promoted beyond their
natural talents, education and training. However, this has created a
pervasive climate of inefficiency and poor performance often
adjusted to the performance of the minimum common denominator. We
now have the benefit of a new generation of bright, competent and
well-trained younger people who have come through the ranks of our
universities and the civil service itself. It is time to sort the
wheat from the chaff and get rid of those who cannot keep up with
the very challenges which the President has outlined.
Government is people. And if the people in
Government are not good enough to carry forward what it takes to
overcome the challenges the President has identified, no matter what
the President says and no matter what his Ministers commit
themselves to doing, our Government will not deliver.
Finally, I plead to now stop the rhetoric of
celebrations. As the President has kindly recognized, I dedicated my
life to the release of President Mandela and other political
prisoners, and the unbanning of political parties. I have spent my
life in the struggle for liberation. But the struggle before us is
now greater than what we were facing before 1994. We knew that
political liberation would eventually come, even if it might happen
after our own lifetimes. In the struggle for prosperity now before
us there is no certainty of victory, and our failure would crush the
hopes of a continent and destroy our people.
Also in this respect, we must not insult the
intelligence of our people.
They cannot feed their families with
celebrations, whether they are the celebrations of our past
victories, or the centennial celebrations of our country's unity, or
the celebration of victories achieved on soccer or cricket fields.
I urge the President to mobilize the immense
support he has amongst the grassroots of South Africa for a new
national struggle, calling on the collective upliftment and
individual development of our population. We need a national effort
of historical proportions, built on education, work, education,
work, education and work and more work.
Our generation sacrificed to bequeath
freedom onto the next generation. The present generation must
understand that with the same spirit of mission, it must sacrifice,
so that its collective hard work and dedication may bequeath
prosperity upon the next generation.
Both I and my Party want to help the
President in this effort if he accepts to rise to the challenge of
becoming the leader of a national movement which cuts through all
the nonsense, wherever it is found, and puts us all to work to build
that better future we all have dreamed of for so many generations.