South Africa

THE PEOPLE’S STATE OF THE NATION

We need to work together to build the South Africa we want – Thuli Madonsela

Reverend Frank Chikane delivers a speech at the 'People's State of the Nation' at St George's Cathedral in Cape Town on Wednesday evening, 9 February 2022. (Photo by David Harrison)

On Wednesday evening, Thuli Madonsela gave the keynote speech at Defend Our Democracy’s ‘People’s State of the Nation’.

On the eve of the State of the Nation Address, joining guests for Defend Our Democracy’s “People’s State of the Nation” at St George’s Cathedral in Cape Town via Zoom, Thuli Madonsela said we needed to “roll up our sleeves and do the work for the South Africa we want”. 

About 100 people were seated in the church to listen to Madonsela, who holds the chair in social justice and is a law professor at Stellenbosch University.

Referring to the Constitution’s preamble, Madonsela said the Constitution South Africa had adopted was based on “healing the divisions of the past and establishing a society based on democratic values, social justice and fundamental human rights”.

Professor Thuli Madonsela speaks via a video link during the ‘People’s State of the Nation’ at St George’s Cathedral on Wednesday evening, 9 February 2022. (Photo: David Harrison)

“But Covid-19 and the July unrest made us look at ourselves with new eyes and made us realise that we were not there yet and we are not going in the right direction either,” said Madonsela.

Instead of healing the divisions of the past, we were becoming increasingly polarised, she added. 

“The greater challenge is how do we honour the Constitution’s preamble? A promise not fulfilled is similar to a debt that has not been paid. So, who must fulfil this promise?” asked Madonsela. 

A young child listens to the speakers at the ‘People’s State of the Nation’ at St George’s Cathedral on Wednesday, 9 February 2022. (Photo: David Harrison)
Posters at the ‘People’s State of the Nation at St George’s Cathedral. (Photo: David Harrison)

Madonsela said that the Constitution enjoined all to work towards fulfilling its preamble.

The most important work of honouring the preamble was not to be complicit in corruption, said Madonsela. “When people ask us to ignore corruption, those are not our people. Even if we share the same skin colour or class, they’re not our people.”

Madonsela said we needed “purpose-driven” plans that were in line with constitutional governance. She hoped President Cyril Ramaphosa would deliver that in his address. 

ANC and SACP members pose for a photo with UDM president Bantu Holomisa at the ‘People’s State of the Nation’ at St George’s Cathedral on Wednesday evening. (Photo: David Harrison)

Also present was Reverend Frank Chikane, who said he was angry about the state of the country. “People died, people lost limbs, people were tortured, people suffered greatly, and we didn’t expect for the country to be where it is,” he said.  

Referring to the July unrest, Chikane warned: “We’ve said that if the state fails then the people of South Africa will be the last line of defence. The only way to survive is to take a stand. The state of this country is in bad shape and if we don’t take a stand, we’re going to slide to the end.” 

The event at St George’s Cathedral comes a few days after a fire in the cathedral’s basement. 

South African Anglican priest and social justice activist Father Michael Lapsley delivers a fiery speech at the ‘People’s State of the Nation’ at St George’s Cathedral in Cape Town on Wednesday evening, 9 February 2022. (Photo: David Harrison)

On 6 February, Michael Weeder, dean of the cathedral, posted on social media that the fire had been set deliberately:

“The fire was an act of arson. It appears that a lit piece of cotton/gauze was thrown through the small, barred window near the steps leading up to the cathedral’s Wale Street entrance. Someone was spotted running away…”

There had been no “discernable damage”.

On Tuesday, the man arrested for allegedly starting the fire was sent to a district surgeon for psychological evaluation. DM

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  • For South Africa to move forward from the current parlous situation, the following needs to happen:
    1. A fundamental change in mindset is necessary. Each, and every, person in the country needs to respond to the call initiated by John F Kennedy “Think not what my country can do for me, think rather What can I do for my country!”
    2. South Africans must realise that “We can swim together or sink together”. I realise that the “haves” can move elsewhere, but not even the wealthiest can take the country as part of their baggage.
    3. History must become the foundation on which we move forward, not the torch by which we find our way. History is permanent and unchangeable, we must use it to prevent repeating its mistakes.
    Once these conditions are, widely, met then we can start ti resume our journey, 20 years of knocking them has brought us to this desolate place

  • We have no “of the nation” when the ANC’s less than 1.5 million people effectively determine the State’s policies and key appointments.

    the speech is actually the state of the ANC

  • Did the person caught, alleged to have started the fire , sport EFF garb ? That may be too easy … so s/he could have been in RET faction garb … which is probably still on the production line ?

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