Fikile Mbalula: A nation reborn

2019-05-08 08:32
cyril ramaphosa
President Cyril Ramaphosa on Sunday at Ellis Park where the ANC held its last elections rally.  ~ deaan vivier

As we traversed the country, we saw the face of poverty, unemployment and the devastation of crime in our communities. We were touched by the flicker of hope that still lingers, writes Fikile Mbalula.

As the first rays of the sun herald a new day, South Africans brace themselves to cast their votes in one of the most electrifying elections since the dawn of democracy. Taking stock of the gruelling campaign on a terrain that is so similar to the 1994 campaign yet so different, evokes a variety of emotions. Exhilaration, anxiety, pride and humility. 

Never has the sense of anticipation been greater since that historic moment, when all citizens went to the polls to cast their votes as equals for the first time. The cacophony of the campaign trail gives way to a tense atmosphere, pregnant with anticipation. The moment for South Africans to decide is upon us and not a moment too soon.

This election is a watershed moment for the ANC in many ways, a moment of renewal and rejuvenation for a movement that fell prey to the sins of incumbency. A moment when we humble ourselves before the nation and accept that we were remiss in not preventing a drift from the compass of integrity that inspired the generations whose mission it was to achieve a democratic and inclusive society.

Our commitment to make this an era of renewal and hope has never been greater. We have taken tangible actions to ensure that the march to a better South Africa, free from divisions of the past, an aspiration shared by all South Africans, can now be pursued at a brisker pace.

As we traversed the country, ably led by the ANC president, Cde Cyril Ramaphosa, we saw the face of poverty, unemployment and the devastation of crime in our communities. We were touched by the flicker of hope that still lingers on amidst the sea of what would otherwise be hopelessness. We walked the streets of Alexandra and experienced the squalor our people live with daily. We broke bread with the people in Khayelitsha and Duncan Village and listened to the stories of their daily struggles. The harrowing stories of drug lords terrorising our people in Manenberg drove the point home that our commitment to build safer communities remains hollow if it does not become a lived reality. 

Much progress has been made in transforming these communities and investing massively in social infrastructure. This is the reality that drives the hope and confidence our people still have in the ANC. While on one day President Ramaphosa experienced the dire straits of our commuter rail system, on the other he showcased the first of many new trains, which are being manufactured in the country, the ANC government has invested in at a cost in excess of R170bn over 20 years. 

Despite the daunting challenges confronting us, we have made great strides over the last 25 years towards the realisation of a promise of a better life for all. We have transformed the face of South Africa and invested greatly in social and economic infrastructure, improving the lives of millions. Not only did successive ANC governments triple the size of the economy since 1994, we also invested in excess of R2 trillion in infrastructure projects over the last 10 years.

President Ramaphosa’s pledge of an able government committed to uprooting corruption and state capture in all its manifestations has been demonstrated by the tangible actions he has taken to restore the integrity and independence of important organs of state such as the National Prosecuting Authority, the Hawks and the South African Revenue Service (SARS).

ANC remains a trusted political home

As we wind down the election campaign, we reflect on the depth of the conversations we have held with ordinary South Africans, their harsh criticism of our failings and their reassurances that the ANC remains their trusted political home. As we rededicate ourselves to the values embodied by the giants of our movement, we are determined to usher in a new era of hope where we are each other’s keeper.

We are under no illusion, that ours is a nation on the cusp of renewal and hope and our commitment to grow South Africa in partnership with our people has never been greater. The road ahead has many twists and turns. Renewal will not be easy and we have no doubt that there will be resistance to the fight against corruption. However, we dare declare that the march to a better South Africa is unstoppable.

In honouring the legacy of those who laid down their lives so we could be free, we call on every South African to honour their civic duty and exercise their hard-won right to vote. The best way to strengthen democracy is to maximise participation and make one’s voice heard. Anarchy and undermining the rights of others to vote does nothing for our democracy. Let us embrace the new dawn and take our respective places at the table, declaring for all to hear #ThumaMina.

- Fikile Mbalula is ANC head of elections.

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