‘Need to march against violence against women’

2013-08-09 00:00

THE leader of AgangSA, Mamphela Ramphele yesterday said South Africans have become too tolerant of the mediocre and were not holding those in positions of power accountable.

“We have become subservient to public officials who should be serving us. We see them as demi-gods,” Ramphele said in a public lecture she gave at the Pietermaritzburg and Howard College campuses of the University of KZN yesterday.

“The quality of any democracy is measured by the extent to which it accepts the mediocre and accountability,” she added.

Ramphele expressed her dismay that Durbanites had not demanded action against those responsible for their corrupt practices when the Manase report into corruption in eThekwini Municipality was recently released.

“The response was that the people are retired so ‘we can’t act against them’. I have not heard Durbanites say ‘no you have to come back and account’.”

Speaking on gender-based violence, she said the country should take inspiration from the thousands of women who marched to the Union Buildings against pass laws in 1956.

She said there was a need to march against violence against women. “We need to say in one voice enough is enough,” she said.

Although applauding the government’s plan to reintroduce sexual offences courts, she said dedicated magistrates and prosecutors were needed. This also applied to stringent measures for dealing with rape suspects. “We need to send the message that our society will not tolerate this gender-based violence.”

She also said if gender-based violence was pursued with vigour and perpetrators caught and prosecuted, victims would have the strength to break their silence.

Ramphele, however, said there was a need for political will and the return to a promise of freedom, hope, human dignity and equality for all.

Ramphele told her audience that she could not rest at her age of 76 when freedom has not yet arrived.

“I invested too much of my youth and too many of my friends died for this freedom, and yet this freedom has yet to have meaning in the lives of poor people across the country. We have to make sure that we make freedom a reality in the lives of every South African,” she said.

“We can succeed if we rise and reach out across generations, men and women, and say we are committed to a true freedom in South Africa.”

In a direct call to her audience composed of mainly students, Ramphele said: “I trust that your generation will complete the work my generation failed to complete.”

• mayibongwe.maqhina

@witness.co.za

PMB: Students try to prevent talk

TOLERANCE was tested as UKZN SRC members on the Pietermaritzburg campus tried to prevent a meeting addressed by Ramphele from going ahead.

They told organisers that UKZN was an ANC campus and other parties were not welcome. The meeting went ahead without incident, although with a heavy police presence outside. Ramphele spoke about tolerance of different viewpoints. “We fought so that we can have freedom of association,” she said.

Agang is taking root in Pietermaritzburg — there will be a meeting at the Sinodale Centre, Burger Street on Wednesday, August 14 at 7 pm. People who want to find out more about Agang and about getting involved with the party are invited to attend.

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