Zuma: This is my Banda Moment*

2012-10-20 09:24

My dear compatriots. I speak to you at the hardest of times. Marikana has been a bloody, painful and overdue wake-up call for all of us. It simply cannot be business as usual. No more blood can be spilled.

No more time can be lost.

I therefore urge our mine workers, the men and women who hold this economy in their hands, to go back to work. Go back to work, comrades. There is platinum, there is gold, there is coal, and it belongs to all of us, as you have told us so clearly all year.

What will be done? The mining communities which have been so graphically displayed are places where time has stood still.

In Marikana, in the Free State and even in KwaMashu, we see that the migrant labour system is still with us. For many of you, it is as if apartheid has not ended: families are still split, home is still a shack and there are still too many mouths to feed from a single salary.

We have to change this or our country will continue to slide backward, as the Economist notes this week in its article tiled ‘Cry, the beloved country’. When Alan Paton wrote those words, there was a sense of hopelessness about the country he inhabited, for freedom seemed such a long way away.

But now we have agency. We have democracy. We have goodwill. We can do something. What am I going to do for a country that has to be led from the front? I am forthwith ending all the building and extensions at Nkandla, my home.

My family is paying for it but while there is a shadow of doubt, the building will stop, the tractors will be put to work on the roads, the power stations and the housing developments that I will ensure get under way.

I have a large, large family to support (laughs and pushes spectacles up the bridge of his nose), as you know. I feel it as you do. But I will be taking a pay cut. I will have fewer bodyguards because I am comfortable in my skin, safe in my country. The size of my cavalcade will be halved, I’ve told the government garage.

I am inspired by my fellow leader, President Joyce Banda of Malawi. She has sold her presidential jet (I’ve already turned down a new one) and cut her salary.

I know my brother unionists say we need a ‘Lula Moment’ to leverage the gains of democracy, as Brazil has done. But first we need a Banda Moment, to say: ‘I feel you.’ To say we can make our country great together.”

* This is a speech City Press has crafted for our president Jacob Zuma as he popularises the social pact

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