South Africa, Politics

Op-Ed: People’s Motion of No Confidence – ‘Say no to Zuma, corruption, state capture’

By Sipho Pityana 24 November 2016

Statement by SIPHO M PITYANA, convenor of the Save South Africa Campaign, delivered at Constitution Hill, Johannesburg, at the launch of the People’s Motion of No Confidence against President Jacob Zuma on Wednesday, November 23.

Welcome to the launch of the People’s Motion of No Confidence Against President Jacob Zuma. Today, civil society is saying “no” to corruption. We are saying “no” to state capture.

We are saying “no” to the use of state-owned enterprises as piggy banks for the corrupt, and the use of state institutions to further the agenda of political factions.

We are saying “no” to a President who inexplicably refuses to sign a new law that will enhance our ability to identify and stop money laundering.

We are saying “no” to a President who we see as the champion of corruption and sees nothing wrong with ongoing attempts at state capture – when he should be shocked, and compelled to act in the national interest.

We are saying “no” to a President who admits that he knows people are stealing from the state and – rather than locking them up – says he’d rather bide his time and write a book about it. Does this not make him an accessory to criminality?

Above all else, we are saying “no” to a President who appears to have virtually handed over the power vested in him by the people to a coterie of shady and unscrupulous characters. At the same time, his family and friends have benefited handsomely from their association with these same people.

We consider this an outright assault on our very nationhood, our flag, our sovereignty and our Constitution.

It is time to say “no” to Zuma.

We are inspired by the many citizens who have taken great risks to reveal the rot carried out under Zuma’s leadership, and who have exposed his complete contempt for the people who put him in power.

We pay tribute to the scrupulous and exemplary conduct of former Public Protector Thuli Madonsela who, true to her role, has helped lift the veil of secrecy covering the underworld of theft and looting.

We praise and honour the leadership of our judiciary for preserving their independence. Biased courts have destroyed democracies in many societies. We also salute the work of the Auditor-General for his courage in exposing the rot in our government.

We have heard the compelling cries and demands from many leaders in society who note that we have produced icons such as Nelson Mandela, Albert Luthuli, Archbishop Tutu, Joe Slovo, Albertina Sisulu and many others – and, quite rightly, say we deserve much, much better than Zuma.

Who can argue with that?

That is why today we, the Save South Africa campaign, are initiating a People’s Motion of No Confidence Against Zuma – because we believe South Africa can no longer afford the continued financial, social, and institutional cost of leaving him in charge.

Unemployment is a national crisis and is at its worst level in 13 years. The forecast for economic growth is around 0.5% for this year, and there is growing social tension – we see it at university campuses, in informal settlements, among workers, on the farms, and in countless urban communities.

The President has failed us, and he must go. He cannot be allowed to continue to violate the Constitution and disrespect his oath of office, or to allow the further capture of our state.

We cannot afford to wait until the next elections. The rot is simply spreading too fast.

What kind of leader does Zuma think he is?

On public platforms, in so-called Cadre Forums, the President glibly asks the question: “Save South Africa from what?”

Today, we say the answer is clear: we must Save South Africa from you, Mr President. Because if we do nothing today, there will be no South Africa to save by 2019.

Kleptocracy is well on its way to replace our hard-won democracy. The state will have been captured in totality, and the dream of equality, justice and true freedom will have been lost — perhaps forever.

In a mere seven years, Zuma has destroyed the proud legacy of a valiant 104-year-old movement, and he has done it through greedy selfishness. This is a movement that once held pride of place, not only for South Africans, but also Africans across the world and for progressive forces in general. Zuma has reduced it to a shadow of its former self.

In a functioning democracy, if a leader breaks the bond of trust with his people, it is up to institutions such as Parliament, or the leadership of the governing party, to decide it is time for him to go. We salute those Members of Parliament and their political parties who have done their bit to try and hold the President to account.

It is beyond question that this President has broken that bond of trust.

We are encouraged by the many voices in the leadership of the ANC that acknowledge this painful reality. While many of us may not understand why the ANC has blocked motions in Parliament to remove him from office, we remain convinced that there are many in the leadership, and in the rank and file of the party, who agree that it is time for Mr Zuma to go, for the sake of our country and our people.

The Save South Africa campaign recognises that the ANC and its allies have an opportunity and a responsibility to put the country first, and it has never been more urgent that they should do so. The time to act is now.

South Africa is more important than the ANC, and it is certainly more important than President Zuma. South Africa’s democratic project is too important to let one captured man destroy it. It is time for firm and decisive action. We plead with the ANC to hear our call – and Save South Africa.

Week after week, new evidence emerges of how Zuma has compromised South Africa – and how he refuses to do anything to stop the rot.

Whether it is Nkandla, Waterkloof Airforce Base, SAA, Denel, Eskom, the NPA, the Hawks or SARS, or indeed the repeated ploys to undermine the National Treasury, it is becoming increasingly apparent to South Africans that under this President, state capture is being further entrenched and the very sovereignty of our state is being dangerously jeopardised.

The Constitutional Court has already found that he is in breach of his oath of office. He has failed to uphold and respect the Constitution, consistently put his personal interests ahead of the national interest, and failed in his duty to avoid conflicts between his official responsibilities and his private interests.

Zuma tries to tell us the upgrades at Nkandla were within the framework of the Constitution; this arrogant, twisted logic makes a mockery of the unanimous decision of the Constitutional Court, which found that “… the President’s failure to comply with the remedial action taken against him by the Public Protector is inconsistent with his obligations to uphold, defend and respect the Constitution as the supreme law of the Republic…”.

Zuma seeks to place himself above the Constitution – he does not accept that we have elected to live in a constitutional democracy where we are ALL equal before the law.

He continues to abuse executive power by allowing important institutions of democratic, constitutional governance to be undermined. These include our National Treasury and Chapter Nine bodies. He has also failed consistently to resolve serious governance problems at state-owned enterprises.

I urge you to read the Public Protector’s State of Capture Report. It shows that these State-Owned Entities are being manipulated to provide a conduit for wealth accumulated by a few well connected people. The report reveals a web of conspiracies that reach to the highest levels of our country’s leadership. This web includes the President’s family, some Cabinet members, state-owned companies and the Gupta family. In the middle of it all is our President.

While all this happens, his cronies have been allowed unfettered access to top secret Cabinet memos. This week’s Sunday newspapers have shown how they, in turn, have shared their plans for state capture with their friends.

And how does the President respond to this litany of explosive revelations? By boasting that he is not afraid to go to jail.

It is simply mind-boggling. And that is why, day after day, South Africans find themselves asking:

What kind of leader is this?

Zuma blames international conspiracies for South Africa’s problems. Zuma says Western powers and white monopoly capital are using people as pawns to further their own agendas. Predictably, he offers no proof for his conspiracy theories. He also talks of witches and zombies.

What kind of leader is this?

It is becoming clearer by the day that President Zuma is a threat to our country’s economic stability. He is a threat to the interests of the poor – and to the constitutional principle of social justice. He must go!

Although this initiative is spearheaded by the Save South Africa Campaign, we are launching this motion on behalf of all South Africans who care about the future of our country, who treasure our Constitution and who love our flag and value our freedom and sovereignty.

Through this campaign, we invite you to be an active participant and a Save South Africa champion.

We are embarking on this ambitious campaign knowing that the Save South Africa campaign itself is less than one month old – that’s right, our launch took place in Pretoria just four weeks ago – and we are already being inundated by people and peoples’ organisations who support our call.

Our support base already includes a number of struggle stalwarts, civil society activists, church leaders, trade union leaders, writers, performing artists and others who are with us today.

They have been joined in spirit by thousands of South Africans who have called our office, e-mailed us, or signed up on social media in support of our campaign. Just last week, more than 2,000 of these concerned South Africans joined us at our first public rally in New Brighton, and were united in saying: We need to Save South Africa from Zuma.

But we have to be clear on this: The People’s Motion of No Confidence will fail without your active support. We urge you to encourage your family, friends, colleagues and others to sign this motion. Let our numbers show that this is not just a demand by a few, but an unmistakenly large community of our people.

We encourage you to organise similar gatherings in your community to bring South Africans together in solidarity and send an unequivocal message to Parliament and to Luthuli House that it is time for Zuma to go.

Over the next few months, we will be taking our Motion of No Confidence to more constituencies to elicit their views. We will be holding meetings with various organisations and encouraging them to get involved, and holding more public meetings to enable people to show their support. Please make sure that you and your organisation are actively involved.

We will be popularising our Call to Action, which urges South Africans to show their support for the campaign by wearing #SaveSouthAfrica doeks, bandanas and armbands, organising silent protests wherever the President speaks, and using the #SaveSouthAfrica hashtag on social media.

We are also encouraging South Africans to meet with their local MPs to insist they are accountable to the people – and to do the right thing by supporting the People’s Motion to remove Jacob Zuma as President.

Key dates for our campaign over the next six months include Constitution Day (December 10), the President’s State of the Nation Address in February 2017 and a “National Convention for a New South Africa” on April 27, 2017.

We are launching our Motion of No Confidence in the form of an online petition. It is available on our website – www.savesouthafrica.org – and on our social media platforms on Twitter and Facebook. We urge you, and all South Africans, to sign the petition and make your voices heard.

We will be publishing the petition in a number of newspapers, and distributing it in communities throughout the festive season and beyond.

It is our intention to gather as much support as possible, and as many signatures as we can, and to formally present this People’s Motion to Parliament in the new year.

We believe Parliament is elected to represent the people and has a crucial role to play in overseeing the Executive and ensuring its lawful conduct. It must therefore act in the interests of the people.

We are urging the National Assembly to hear the People’s Motion and to act on its mandate by dealing with President Zuma’s failure to respect his oath of office.

As we do this, we are saying to South Africans: make your voices heard.

Support the People’s Motion of No Confidence.

Say no to further state capture.

Say no to further corruption.

Say no to any further damage by a Zuma presidency.

Say no to Zuma!

Above all: Support this motion because you love your country and yearn to see a democratic, ethical and constitutional leadership that truly serves all our people.

Amandla! Save South Africa! DM

Photo: Save SA convener Sipho Pityana addresses the campaign’s launch of a motion of no confidence in President Zuma, 23 November 2016. (Greg Nicolson)

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