The four-hour movement: What the heavyweights said

2013-05-01 10:13

James Motlatsi and Bobby Godsell plan to make the country a better place through active citizenry. Here is a selection of quotes from well-known South Africans about the initiative:

At the heart of democratic practice lies a dilemma: democracy requires both effective leadership and a vigorous citizenship – yet the consequences of strong leadership often seem to undermine civic vigour.

In established democracies, it seems as if they had to have either strong leaders or strong citizens, but not both; they appear to have settled on having such an asymmetrical arrangement.

John F Kennedy’s call on ordinary Americans to ask what they could do for their country rather than what it might do for them, is a call to weak citizens to rise up and take charge of their lives.

In South Africa, we must settle for strong leaders and strong citizens and the Active Citizens’ Charter is an important vehicle for achieving both. – Wilmot James

To me “active citizenship” is in Samantha Power’s phrase “about being an upstander and not a bystander”.South Africa is beset by opportunity and challenge in almost equal measure.

Our future as an inclusive and democratic republic requires each of us to participate in shaping its contours and outcomes with the vigorous determination which we showed ourselves and the world back in the 1990s.

It’s about remembering the past, not living in it, and moving forward by reanimating the spirit which allowed us safe passage from apartheid to democracy.

To give effect to this I will use every opportunity, platform and encounter to try to offer a hopeful prospectus going forward, not based on either blind negativism nor unreasoned optimism, but on a realistic grasp of what we can do to travel, safely and in time, on the road to a decent future.’’ – Tony Leon

Any society is as good as its citizens are active. Active South Africans have overcome great problems. But we have relaxed our guard and new problems have accumulated. Our duty to our democracy is that we make our voices heard again. – David Lewis

Our country, its future and success belong to us all. We are all bound by a shared past and a shared future and destiny. Let us all work together to ensure our nation’s success and create a much better future than we have inherited. Our country requires a sense of common purpose, hard work, integrity and selflessness! Our children (future South Africans) deserve better. – Malegapura Makgoba

If you want to create 5 million new jobs by 2020 you need 1 million new businesses to be created. This will require active and entrepreneurial citizenry of the highest order, backed by supportive government, working in partnership with big business. – Clem Sunter

Our constitutional dispensation is one of the most impressive, but it cannot simply be left to the organs of state to manage and implement. It also needs an active citizenship to ensure that it survives and thrives as a lived reality; the defining characteristic of that active citizenship is holding those in authority – be they in the public or private spheres – accountable. – Francis Anthoni

All right-minded South African citizens will agree that the early wins made in the democratic progress of our country have been watered down or lost along the way.If we’re to live in a country we can all be proud of, we can’t expect others to make the running. We all have to play a role in defining a successful future. – Ian Cockerill

Taking collective responsibility for nation building is the most important contribution required from our generation and in this season of our democracy. I give effect to the idea by equipping South Africans to cultivate a social and innovative entrepreneurial mindset. – Wendy Luhabe

Democracy can only work properly and a country can only be successful if citizens are active at all levels, from voting, in central down to local elections, for government, schools and other authorities. Citizens must hold their representatives accountable for their actions. – Julian Ogilvie Thompson

My first youthful steps toward social activism were induced by an anger at the manifest inhumanity of the racism of the time. Then the realisation that we conducted our social actions in a manner that resulted in mass poverty.

Then as I learnt more about South Africa and Africa it seemed to me that there was something profound calling out to those seeking to listen. In many ways, South Africa cradled humanity and then set it challenges: human identity, a rich yet fragile ecosphere and natural wealth in abundance – to see if there was enough social wisdom to build for the better, and not the worse. There is a sense in which there is a human responsibility to be an activist in our land – South Africa. – Alec Erwin

It is critical that we become active, each and every one of us, in creating a better society, or else the deep divisions among us will widen and sink us.

Unity is not just an option, but an elementary process towards tomorrow. Lively engagement by all of us, with the institutions of government and state, the corridors of corporations and business, the representative organisations of workers and professionals, the halls of academia and the multiple social formations within our communities, is a necessary condition for shaping the future we want. – Jerry Coovadia

Active citizenship is important, as we need everybody’s unselfish input, which might just be the catalyst to improve and to effect changes in the lives and new horizons of South Africa’s incredible people! It takes just one drop of water to start a river. – Koos Bezuidenhout

“Citizen activism is important, in that it encourages citizens to take it upon themselves to evaluate and hold government accountable for its service-delivery performance. This important form of vertical accountability has been missing in South Africa for many years. We therefore support and encourage the active citizens initiative and calls to revive it.” – Bantu Holomisa

I am proudly South African, proud to fly her flag and peg my name to her mast. If I can make a positive difference in my community, and so my country (no matter how small), then I have earned the right to call her my own. – Jessica Slack

I believe in active citizenship, because when I relate actively to my compatriots, human to human, we experience trust, affection and confidence. When we relate passively, as members of blocs, there is hostility and blame. Nurturing the human mode kills the bloc mode. – Denis Beckett

Given an underperforming economy, a diverse, poverty-stricken and somewhat tense society, South Africa desperately need the unifying potential of a broadly based and active citizens movement. In fact, it can be considered a prerequisite for greater stability and wealth creation at a national level. – Conrad Strauss

In Afrikaans there is a saying, “Alles sal regkom, sê Jan Brand.” But what he really said was: “Alles sal regkom as elkeen sy plig doen” (Everything will turn out well as long as everyone does their duty). Active citizenship is not simply believing that “alles sal regkom”, but actively doing something about it. – Servaas van der Berg

Active citizenship gives every individual South African the opportunity to make a daily difference. It is individuals who change the world. The stars emit their own light. They do not need anybody’s permission to shine. Active citizenship is every South African’s opportunity to shine.

My personal ambition is to play a role in giving street kids the opportunity to realise a different life outcome through an experience of the sea. – Philip Baum

I am pleased to lend my support to the Active Citizens’ Charter, for I believe this initiative has the potential to influence positive change in the hearts and minds of citizens, which will translate into positive actions. In this way, we may place South Africa back on a path of stability and wellbeing.

I have always subscribed to the notion that good citizenship begins with taking responsibility and creating a sense of ownership.

We must avoid a culture of entitlement and selfishness, pursuing instead a culture of self-help, self-reliance and partnership. That begins with individual responsibility within a system of mutual accountability. That, I believe, is at the foundation of the Active Citizens’ Charter initiative. – Mangosuthu Buthelezi

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