Save South Africa convenor, Sipho Pityana, delivered this speech at a Save South Africa rally in Nelson Mandela Bay on Tuesday.
It is a distinct honour and privilege to stand here at the Vuyisile Mini Square, so named after a gallant hero of our liberation struggle, one of the first uMkhonto we Sizwe cadres to face the dastardly apartheid regime’s hangman’s noose, to fight to set us free. I pledge myself and invite you to do the same, that I will spare neither effort nor strength nor energy nor life to ensure that his blood and that of many others like him, and the sacrifices of many others to set us free, will not be in vain.
These cadres inspired many of us to join in the struggle to reject the arrogant insistence that a white colonial power and its successor apartheid regime can run our country without our consent and subjugate the indeginous inhabitants of our motherland. We all fought and won a struggle to determine the destiny of our nation as free citizens. Nobody, but nobody, has a right to take that away from us.
That is what we are confronted with. A leader who we elected to be our country’s president, representing Vuyisile Mini’s political party whose role in liberating our country we cherish, has arrogated to himself and himself alone, a prerogative, an illegitimate right at that, to sell our hard-won freedom, and the right to determine our destiny, to the Guptas and a clique of corrupt and greedy cronies in exchange for money and favours for himself, his family and friends.
Not at Luthuli house, not at the Union Buildings, not at Tynhuis, not at Mahlambandhovu; but at the Saxonwold shebeen, our president sits and gets instructions from this corrupt clique, on who to appoint as a minister, director-general, board of state-owned entities and leaders of various government institutions. They decide on who they want where in order to ensure that they have unfettered access to our money and other resources of our state where they can steal without disturbance.
He is doing everything to ensure that a recommendation by Thuli Madonsela to expose this through a Judicial Commission of Inquiry never happens. We thank Thuli because her report confirms what we already new, that our president has sold the ANC and its great values out; as he has the country.
We must thank Mcebisi Jonas for exposing this rot and making the formal investigation possible. For taking a stand to defend our revolution and our freedom, he has earned the wrath of a corrupt leader that Zuma is. That is why he has been fired.
This is what we are talking about when we refer to state capture. Elsewhere or perhaps in a different era we would refer to this as a counter-revolution. If you thought this only comes as a military expedition, you now have been rudely awakened to its different manifestation.
True to form, while the nation slept, in the dark of early hours of Friday 31 March, Zuma launched a final assault, euphemistically referred to as a Cabinet reshuffle, but in fact it was a Gupta coup d’état.
Those who diligently stopped their dirty tricks and frustrated their state plunder – Pravin Gordhan and Mcebisi Jonas – were summarily fired on the pretext of an intelligence report that’s not worth the paper it’s written on. Look at who replaces him. The same Malusi Gigaba who appointed Brian Molefe to Transnet as the CEO when he was Minister of Public Enterprises. It was during his tenure there that SOEs were plunged to the most unprecedented governance crisis. Remember, he’s the one who allegedly made it a condition of appointment of an audit firm Sizwe Ntsaluba Gobodo to Eskom that they fire Vusi Pikoli from their firm because he feared his honesty and integrity. Gigaba and Molefe are birds of the same feather. It is safe to say that the Treasury has been overrun and we are justified to lose sleep at night.
Unmistakably, Faith Muthambi, who caused mayhem and destruction at the SABC, if we were to take Parliament’s report seriously, has been deployed to spread her misgovernance skills to the entire public service as the new Public Service and Administration Minister. Bathabile Dlamini, who has shown complete contempt for the poor, the Constitution, laws of our land and the courts, has also been retained to do even more damage. Remember, that poor administration and misgovernance enables corruption to thrive.
These moves are as blatant as they are clear. Laudably, the leaders of the ANC and its alliance partners saw through them and rejected them. The President’s handlers gave him marching orders to implement the changes regardless, and he did. Consequently our country is on the brink of a disaster.
South Africa has been downgraded by one of the international ratings agencies to junk status. They say the future prospects for our economy are negative. What they’re seeing is what the alliance leaders and many of us were warning against.
This ratings downgrade means a lot to economists, to international investors, to people who might be thinking about getting involved in the South African economy, or opening new factories, or creating new jobs.
But importantly, it also means a lot to you and I.
If you have some money saved, that money is worth a lot less from today. If you don’t have any money, your chances of ever getting any have just gone out of the window.
Food is going to be more expensive. Petrol and transport are going to be more expensive. Electricity is going to be more expensive. Everything is going to be more expensive.
If you have a job, the security of that job has just gone out of the window. Business confidence is going to drop, which means there will be reduced investment and no new jobs. Unemployment will increase, workers will be retrenched and factories will shut down.
If you own a house, you are likely to pay more interest on your bond. If you don’t own a house, the chances of getting one have just become even more remote.
Government’s ability to borrow money to provide social grants, healthcare, housing and education will be reduced. It will have much, much less to spend on the promises it has made to you. And slowly but surely, the safety net for the poor, the homeless and the hungry is going to start coming apart at the edges. Brace yourself for the tough times that have destabilised many democracies in the world.
This is a horror show, comrades and friends. And it was all brought to you by one man: Jacob Zuma.
Was it not Jacob Zuma who decided to reshuffle his Cabinet in the middle of the night, and hand over our government to Gupta stooges?
Was it not Jacob Zuma who decided to get rid of Gordhan and Jonas, despite the fact that they were doing a very good job protecting our economy and preventing Gupta and his friends from capturing the public purse?
And just three days after he reshuffled the Cabinet for the Guptas, he was called out by the ratings agencies. This morning we wake up to the news that yet another ratings agency is reviewing our credit standing, unless we act with urgency and remove Zuma, they’ll downgrade us too.
Why should we all pay the price for the president’s misdemeanors?
All this has happened in just four short days. Contrary to what Gigaba naively believes, it could take us years, possibly decades, to get out of it. Ask the people of Colombia in Latin America: it took their country 12 years to get back to investment status after being declared junk. Ask the people of Ireland, Uruguay or Croatia, who had to wait seven years to get back to investment status.
Or ask the people of those countries where they have never come back from junk. It happens. The catastrophic impact of being given junk status can damage economies for years and years. And that is the scenario we face today.
And, as I say, this is all because of one man: Jacob Zuma.
Zuma’s greed knows no bounds. For years he has been trying to get his hands on your money so that he can share it with his family and friends.
Rather than looking at better ways to use our taxes to build schools, hospitals, roads and houses, he has been busy looking at how much of that money he can steal.
Rather than making state-owned companies such as Eskom, Denel and South African Airways play a role in building our economy, he has been busy looking at how to get his friends and family in place to steal more money on the pretext of radical economic transformation.
Rather than looking at providing more energy to build the economy, he has allegedly been doing a deal with the Russian government to build nuclear power stations that will serve one purpose: to make him and his cronies rich.
Rather than making our streets and homes safer places to live, he has been looking at how to make sure the criminals among his family and friends are protected, so they can get up to more nonsense.
This, comrades and friends, is the South Africa that Jacob Zuma has created.
In the process, he has corrupted our democracy. He has refused to do the right thing and step down, even though the Constitutional Court found he had not fulfilled his oath of office. He has insulted the millions of South Africans who fought for freedom, and for our Constitution. And he has no shame.
Jacob Zuma is a national disgrace.
And right now, if he doesn’t resign, we are counting days until he is chased out of office – by People’s Power, by the actions of ordinary people like you and I. And when we do so, he will go down in history as the sponsor-in-chief of state corruption, the worst ever post-apartheid head of state and the worst president in the history of the ANC.
Compatriots and friends,
I arrived here this morning after spending the last few days at Church Square in Pretoria, where a number of ordinary South Africans have been protesting since Friday.
Led by the Save South Africa campaign, they are still in Church Square as we speak. They feel so strongly about what they are doing that they have built a camp, called the Action Camp for Active Citizens, and will be sleeping in Church Square until Friday, when they will be joined by thousands of South Africans in a civil society march on the Union Buildings.
This is unusual action. But we are living in unusual times. It is one I never imagined I’d ever need to be part of in a free South Africa.
Like them, you are probably angry at what is going on. You might be asking yourself: what can you do to make your voice heard? How do you contribute to getting Zuma out of office, and getting South Africa back on the right path?
As the Save South Africa campaign, we believe we have one choice left now: and that is to take to the streets, in growing numbers.
We have embarked on a programme of rolling mass action, and are working with a number of other civil society organisations, faith groups, trade unions, healthcare and education activists and others to ensure co-ordinated protests across the country. We do this within the law and peacefully.
Alongside them are ordinary people: workers, teachers, nurses, even police officers who are sick and tired of what is going on.
To us, it is increasingly clear that co-ordinated, united public protest is the only way to stop further state capture and to defend our democracy, and the only way to get rid of Zuma.
Today we are encouraging you to join us on the streets.
Do it through your civic societies, your trade union, your political organisation. Importantly, do it with your family and friends. Or just do it yourself and convene other (sic). Co-ordinate with us through our website so that we can alert others to work with you
Join us on the streets. Join us in saying: Zuma must go!
It is crucial that we stand together, despite any differences, and find common purpose in the fight against state capture. Remember that the people united will never be defeated.
We must take to the streets. We must all work together now – to Save South Africa. DM
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