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SA has nothing to celebrate after 28 years of ANC: opposition parties

MPs debated Freedom Day under the theme “consolidating our democratic gains by giving enhanced meaning to our constitutional rights through the building of a more equitable society”. File photo.
MPs debated Freedom Day under the theme “consolidating our democratic gains by giving enhanced meaning to our constitutional rights through the building of a more equitable society”. File photo.
Image: Esa Alexander

Opposition parties in the National Assembly on Tuesday said the country had little or nothing to celebrate nearly three decades into democracy. 

Some argue that for the citizens to be truly free, a different form of liberation is needed. 

The DA’s Siviwe Gwarube, who had commemorated Freedom Day in the Alfred Nzo municipality, said, “It was evident that freedom remains a theoretical concept that is not a lived reality for many parts of the country.”   

MPs debated Freedom Day under the theme “consolidating our democratic gains by giving enhanced meaning to our constitutional rights through the building of a more equitable society”.

Gwarhube argued that local municipalities have been hollowed out, looted and completely incapacitated.  This as crime, unemployment and gender-based violence were on the rise.

“We can never consider ourselves free until the war against women is defeated,” she added.

The only way government could measure progress made in achieving freedom was measuring how it tackles unemployment and poverty, she said. 

“No South African is free when more half of the country is poor and no South African is free when millions of young people cannot find work. After 28 years,  SA is indeed in a need of a different form of liberation,” said Gwarhube.  

The IFP’s Narend Singh echoed the sentiments, shining the spotlight on crippling poverty, hunger and crime which millions of South Africans grappled with daily.  

“South Africans generally do not feel safe,” he said. “How can we speak of freedom when millions of children go to bed hungry and are uncertain when they will get their next meal? As the IFP, we call of the government of the day to take responsibility for some of these failures,” Singh said.

Part of the problem, according to Singh, was that service and accountability were non-existent.  

“Under the ruling party, corruption is so rife that the government's default position for new projects seems to be to announce measures that will hopefully prevent money from being stolen. Instead of spending the money, we want to guard people that are going to spend the money. 

“This daylight robbery of taxpayers is the true thief of freedom. Every rand of irregular and fruitless expenditure translates into another child going to bed hungry or a rural community not getting a much-needed bridge or school,” he said.

The ANC’s Tina Joemat-Pettersson defended the party, arguing it was absolutely necessary to celebrate Freedom Day. 

“We continue to provide a lifeline and a source of income for 18-million indigent people and 11-million benefit from the R350 relief grant. Tertiary education is now possible for many young people from working-class backgrounds through support from government,” said Joemat-Pettersson.

The ruling party was not oblivious to challenges citizens grappled with, she said. 

“We reaffirm our commitment to the constitution. We did not envisage a country with corruption, gender-based violence, theft, crime. Let us all unite to defend the gains of our democracy by fighting the scourge of corruption and gender-based violence.”  

The EFF's Omphile Maotwe accused the government of many failures, including abandoning the struggle for land. 

“Political freedom is meaningless without economic freedom because our people are not going to eat voting rights. They need bread and homes, they need quality education, they need land on which they can grow their own food.   

“Our struggle for land has been reduced to a charity case in terms of which white land thieves can decide out of the goodness of their hearts to donate stolen [land] to those from [whom] they stole it,” she argued. 

The FF Plus’s Heloise Denner said there had been little to celebrate as millions of people continue to be trapped in a “hopeless cycle of unemployment”.

“A democracy on paper with a constitution that guarantees every freedom under the sun means absolutely nothing without actual freedom,” said Denner

The debate came after President Cyril Ramaphosa was booed and heckled by disgruntled workers who stormed the stage when he was meant to speak on Workers’ Day.

Gwarhube warned more was coming.

“People have long lost hope in this government’s ability to deliver a better life for them. That became clear when President Ramaphosa was prevented from delivering a May Day address on Sunday, because workers are demanding better from their employer and this government. 

“The chasing of the government is only the beginning. People can no longer be fed lies and history lessons,” Gwarhube added.

TimesLIVE


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