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My State of the Nation Address

13 February 2014, 19:52

Mr Speaker, all cabinet ministers, fellow members of Parliament, distinguished guests, and members of the media covering this auspicious event; all political parties in the house, fellow South Africans and our foreign ambassadorial representatives, our elders in the person of Bishop Tutu and all religious faiths represented: I warmly greet you!

Please allow me to voice my deepest appreciation for the opportunity and the trust granted to me, your humble servant by the majority of the democratic South Africa. To be the captain of this big ship called, the Republic of South Africa; we all call home! I am forever grateful for the peace we’ve been afforded by our founding fathers of our hard-earned democracy and all the martyrs of our freedom; to enjoy, share as loving neighbours and cherish.

Please believe me, when I say to everyone under the sound of my voice; I am no better South African than a homeless man sleeping under the bridge under our South African sun. I am just a lucky guy who’s been entrusted with bigger responsibility of leading this great nation; in the footprints and democratic ideals of our founding fathers. Thank You!

I would not be doing any justice to all our fallen freedom heroes and heroines; if I do not mention a few popular figures that gave rise to our democracy and shaped the future, you and me are now a part of and enjoy! Today’s South Africa owes her existence to men and women of substance; these individuals gave it their all and not even regarded their own lives, used their bodies as human shields against all the barrage of broadsides fired by the racist regime of their day, years gone; attempting to deny them their right to exist in God’s country, South Africa. What more can I say about warriors like Chief Albert Luthuli, Steve Bantu Biko, Sobukwe, Helen Suzman, Makwetu, Tsietsi Mashinini; our accidental hero and martyr, Hector Pietersen, Sharpville and 1976 victims and so the list goes on without end.

Our story as a country is a beautiful one and envied by most of the world. Our negotiated transition from Apartheid into Democracy became a yardstick to most countries around the world bedevilled by incessant internal conflicts and wars. We dare not stray away from our example that’s regarded by our admirers as a success recipe to achieving real democracy and lasting peace between races that were once divided by Apartheid.

Peace in SA is not just one wish or a byword; even a pie in the sky. Peace is a verb, an active word; we live it every day of our lives...our citizens are wired for peace. Peace is our game hence 99,9% of our population are peace lovers. We live and love Peace!!

Mr Speaker, please allow me time and space to remind ourselves as fellow citizens; of the road traversed so far under the new dispensation in a democratic South Africa. All and sundry in this house and those under the sound of my voice country wide; will recall that in not so distant future, in a few months, SA will be celebrating her 20 years anniversary as a free country.

How beautiful it is to remember and look back and say: Wow, what a view, what a long road to freedom! As I look back and reminisce about the past 20 years; my heart beats faster and fills my mouth with grateful words to utter. I look back and I see Nelson Mandela having a deep conversation with F.W. De Klerk; discussing ways and safe methods to be carefully applied as the two leaders do their best to put all the scattered pieces of a divided SA together. I see members of different unions, ANC, IFP, NP, PAC, members from all faiths and business; engaging in groundbreaking talks in Kempton Park, about the proposed apartheid free-South Africa. This is who we are and where we’re from. This is us...

2014 marks the most important date in our democratic calendar, a stark reminder of all the sacrifices made in the past. It also stands to remind us and our children’s children that freedom has never been free or cheap. We cannot embrace our freedom today and truly so, without embracing its painful past and keep on reminding each to mind our steps!

True democracy is about enjoying and sharing every piece of our freedom and space with fellow men; without forgetting where we came from as a nation. We dare not repeat the mistakes of the past, the same mistakes that cost SA a place in the world; the same mistakes that divided whites from black, turned blacks against blacks where the beast of racism got fatter by the day and chasm between races became impassable...dare not, I repeat!

Only three months ago, the nation of South Africa has been mourning one of the greatest sons of our soil; the passing of the legendary, Nelson Rholihlahla Mandela and the Father of our nation! We’ve seen the tears and heard the deep emotional cries of South Africans across our rainbow colours. Never again, will the world see another icon loved and celebrated in life and in death; like Madiba!

His passing as if not expected, touched the very nerve of the heartbeat of this great nation. Mandela united us in life and united us even more, in his death. Let us not lose this rhythm nor throw away his baton for a united South Africa. Nobody can be bigger than South Africa, no, not even a political party.

Our foundation for freedom and none racial South Africa are solid and strong, let us use them to our advantage in order to ensure a lasting democracy for our children’s children. All the wrong decisions we make today as keepers of our democratic future, will affect the lives and future of our children; fifty years later. This is the same mistakes the apartheid father Verwoed, made for white honest children who had nothing to do with the sins of their fathers; to suffer under the hands of the oppressed yearning for their freedom, saw them as enemy and prime evil.

Madiba taught us to be our brother’s keepers, let’s hold hands and unite as one nation under one flag. Patriotism is one of the strongest unifiers in the universe, without it there’s no surviving as a nation. Together we can only stand strong!

At this juncture, I am shamefully reminded that I have reached halfway of my speech; and I believe it’d be prudent of me to give my pointers in terms of the state of the nation, at least the way I see it. You must realize how difficult it is to present such a speech without lecturing you; this is quite tempting! While there have been glaring bad mistakes made in the past 20 years of our democracy; it must be openly admitted that in the same breath, the government has been successful in playing the right notes in some areas.

How I wish the scale was tipping higher on the good side than the bad! I promise to speak from the heart and from past lessons learned; it’s never easy for politicians to be honest and candid with the truth. This is called damage control in business world. (Paused). I hear you and can feel your pulse......laughing!! Thank you.

We have made progress in the area of housing our poor people albeit not the best houses the government can be proud. There still exists a big room for improvement in this area, after 20 years, we supposed to be completing this project. As government, I feel we should be willing to live in the houses we build for the poor, ourselves. Our MPs must not object when they find an RDP house given as their state house to occupy! (Audience: laughing and applauding).  I mean, I am serious, times are tough and the cost of living is escalating every single year; things are not getting any better out there.

The government has hitherto committed itself to fight and uproot corruption in the area of awarding tenders to building constructors. A private and professional firm with proven background in the area of house construction will be hired and given vested powers to do background checks to all would be RDP contractors. Applicants are allowed to form bidding syndicates across the colour line. Vetting and thorough individual background checks will be standardized and followed to the hilt!

When it comes to education, the government is pleased with the progress made so far and again here, believes there’s still more room for improvement. I can tell you from my personal experience, that I lost the debate hands down even to the class of ’76; that the standard of our current curriculum and passing mark during the 12 years of schooling for our young people; is greatly compromised and sub standard. SA comes last when compared to our neighbours in the likes of, Lesotho, Botswana, Swaziland, Zimbabwe, Zambia, etc, when it comes to quality education.

A nation that fails to educate her children always pays dearly decades later, when the same youths denied of education come of age; and thereby express their anger through crime and torment the greater public. This deals a big blow to ideals our father of the nation fought and stood for. Let’s not let Madiba down...I am happy to announce tonight of the forthcoming reforms when it comes to the most important tier of our democracy, called education. Changes are well underway to raise the bar and get rid of OBE and join the rest of the world in delivering quality education to our future.

Regarding public health, hospitals and clinical care of our people; I feel like there hasn’t been a single move up in the scale of this important pillar our lives depend on. There have been many talks about talks and more talks, by previous ministers of health down to the current one. This is no attack to Minister Motswaledi and Team; but a candid and open dialoguing as concerned citizens of this country. There has been too much bad publicity in the media by people who became victims instead of gaining and getting better; when they suffered permanent damage and some even losing their lives.

And more disgusting, ignored pregnant women who lost their babies and suffered at the hands of cruel nurses; these people are in a wrong profession and must be fired! Medical supplies are always low; or not available due to bad management. This will have to stop, and heads are going to roll out. We have lost far too many lives due to bad public health despite the huge budget cut that goes to this department. It’s not about money; it’s about commitment, standard, leadership and attitude.

In the critical area of public safety and policing; I hang my head in shame. I cannot believe that after Sharpville massacre, lessons have not been learned when mine strikers where mercilessly mowed down in cold blood; by a bunch of trigger-happy police men and women with no regard for human life. I solemnly apologise to the public of South Africa and the families of the victims; who now face a bleak future without their breadwinners. I apologise sincerely.

It would be an indictment against those committed men and women in blue; if I ignored their valuable contribution in serving our people. These put their lives on the line every time they report to duty, to them and their families; is like going to a war. Again at this point, I must admit the mistakes we made 20 years ago; when my predecessors ignored the wise advice of the last white Minister of Police, the honourable George Fivas. George advised against doing too many changes in the police force all at once: replacing the old with the new thereby losing much needed experience to ill experience newcomers! How right Minister George was. An overhauling is on the cards, policing will be better!

Local governance is one area that needs a complete makeover in terms of talent sharing across the political divide. Local metros are the closest to our people when it comes to service delivery; they are better placed than Parliament. MPs sit in their lofty chairs and have lost their human touch with the people on ground. Our local municipalities represent both the voice and the needs of our people; and in return feedback to Parliament on the progress below. All the violence spreading through our country is not unexpected; it’s a wakeup call for those elected to meet the needs of their communities. Local governments have nothing to do with party membership; their number one duty is to serve the greater public despite individual political affiliation.

Water must flow in every tap of all South Africans, comrades or not; we are all South African Citizens and pay taxes to the same Government under one flag of the Republic. Whilst on this point, I’d like to take a moment and entreat our police to refrain from killing our people during service delivery protests. These dastard acts of cold blood killing makes a mockery of our democracy, even Verwoed the Apartheid Architect is laughing from his grave. I also want to appeal to protesters, that while you have a right to demonstrate, you absolutely have no equal right to burn down public amenities, loot shops, bring guns and throw petrol bombs at the police.

You must do all your demonstrations within the perimeters of Law and Order. You can’t stone passing motorists and damage their cars. All those caught committing these gregarious acts will face the full might of the Law. You will be arrested; charged and thrown into jail to serve time for crimes you committed....this is in order under democracy.

In the erstwhile area of public corruption; allow me to vent my frustrations and utter despair, at the rate this evil beast is growing. Stealing is not a mistake, that’s why it’s called fraud. Fraud is crime and falls under serious crime category in the police department and our courts; therefore, if public servants commit fraud, they’ll have to be prepared to stand trial, pay back the stolen loot and ready to change their clothes into famous orange prison regalia. Why steal from the same source that pays your salary for your survival? Comrades, minister, president, local mayor or whatever armband you wearing; commit fraud, you go down and straight to jail where you belong! (Audience: applauding and ululating). Corruption is a national disease that feeds off the very lifeblood of the poor of the poorest; a heartless disease that must obliterated at once. That time is now!

Concerning the hot area of BEE, the government has been at work of finding new ways to address the past imbalances based on race and the disadvantaged majority. Our fellow white compatriots must try their best to understand, that it’s not easy for this government to just cancel this act and practice, cold turkey! We are still expected and are committed to promote equity, equal rights and justice to the greater public. The door is always open for all those concerned and affected by this system, to come forward and visit relevant ministry with their submissions and suggestions on the way forward regarding BEE. Let’s talk about it all the time..

Reading SA stats from the government website a while ago, made me realise that we, the National Congress have been making a big mistake; when we prioritized cadre deployment as a rule to occupy public offices. I was rudely awaken to the undeniable truth; that SA has more than 50 million citizens and not 4500 cadres who voted at the Mangaung ANC Conference about two years ago. I found this act as a gross injustice to the majority of South Africans out there who pay their taxes like everybody else. So, in short, cadreship appointments go out the window, and all people will be merited on the same standard of qualifications and experience. Sorry Comrades.....Amandla!!

Let me assure the people of South Africa that as government, we are doing all we can in order to improve the cost of living for all. We are aware of the rising cost of petrol, food, transport, clothes and in all basic living standards, We share your pain and are hard at work to minimize undue living expense increases all year round. This government has seriously taken into consideration, the cries from Gauteng motorists regarding the pinch they felt when E-Tolls were recently introduced: we are working on finding alternative ways to payback and finance this national debt. We will be announcing in the near future all the bold steps, we have taken as Government to readdress this outcry! (Audience: applauding and ululating). Hehehe...luaghing!

My one comment before my last: I’d like to take a moment and condemn in strongest terms ever, the disgusting turn of events that took place yesterday in Johannesburg during the DA march. I was very embarrassed to watch on TV how individuals wearing ANC t-shirts infringed on the democratic space of the opposition party. This is against the teachings and ideals Madiba held dear to his heart; these louts were undemocratic in every way you want to see it. I don’t care if the time was right or wrong to hold such march; the DA has every democratic right to march wherever they want.

The ANC at Luthuli House was supposed to meet the peaceful marchers of the DA and peacefully accept their memorandum, shake hands as expected in a true democracy and call it a day without all this mob and military unnecessary display. The people of Orania did not throw stones at Mandela when he went there and had tea with the former apartheid first lady of Verwoed! If we follow hard on Madiba’s footprints, comrades, we will never go wrong. Political intolerance has no place under our democracy.

Finally, I’m very glad to reach my finish point. Regarding INkandla Debate, I feel this is not the time to deal with this issue since it involves many government departments and, as you all aware the case is awaiting final release by the Public Protector. Once Thuli delivers her report to Parliament, I hereby promise to come and face the public in a press conference that will not last less than an hour. I will open the floor for the media to ask direct questions from me as the Americans do to president Obama. Hahaha! I promise and I mean it....This speech is not over, time is.

THANK YOU SOUTH AFRICA; THIS IS YOUR PRESIDENT SPEAKING...

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