'Voters can take a stand against corruption'

SOUTH African voters have the power to stand up against corrupt government officials who abuse their positions of power, DA leader Helen Zille, pictured left, said yesterday.

SOUTH African voters have the power to stand up against corrupt government officials who abuse their positions of power, DA leader Helen Zille, pictured left, said yesterday.

"When people in South Africa today see all the corruption and power abuse and lack of delivery, they get angry and feel powerless," Zille said during her Freedom Day speech at the Constitutional Court in Johannesburg.

Zille criticised the ANC and President Jacob Zuma, saying they were not held accountable for their actions.

"He (Zuma) has undermined the Constitution to make sure he does not have to go to court and answer to over 700 counts of corruption against him," Zille said.

"He abuses power to protect his friends, like Schabir Shaik, from the law, while persecuting his political opponents.

"He supports a system in which the ANC uses the people's money to make themselves rich, that is what is happening at Eskom.

"When you pay your increased electricity tariffs, it will be a reminder of what the ANC's corruption is costing you."

Using the "demise of democracy" in Zimbabwe as an example, Zille urged South Africans to use their vote to "get rid of a government that undermines the Constitution".

"Let us remember this lesson on this Freedom Day, in a democracy, people get the government they deserve. We certainly deserve better than the ANC," Zille said.

In Limpopo, the DA boycotted Freedom Day celebrations yesterday, preferring to stage a march in Polokwane, themed "In defence of our Constitution".

Led by provincial DA leader Desiree van der Walt and her deputy Frans Letwaba, about 400 supporters handed in a memorandum at the Polokwane police station.

"Equality before the law is under threat from the ANC," Van der Walt said.

"Our right to live free from fear is threatened by the hate speech that incites violence - and by the government's hired thugs who think they are above the law."

Asked if the DA also viewed the display of the old South African flag and the singing of the apartheid-era national anthem as constituting hate speech, she said: "Hate speech is made by people like Julius Malema. The old SA flag and its national anthem are part of our heritage. We all have past heroes in South Africa."

IFP leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi said Freedom Day should remind South Africans about the first step taken towards unity. "We took that first step as a nation in 1994. Now, we need to keep moving forward," he told his supporters in Vryheid, KwaZulu-Natal, yesterday.

"Throughout the world, our transition from apartheid to democracy was heralded as a miracle."

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