NATIONAL ASSEMBLY DEBATE ON THE 2010 STATE OF THE NATION ADDRESS
RESPONSE BY PRINCE MANGOSUTHU BUTHELEZI MP, PRESIDENT OF THE INKATHA FREEDOM PART, National Assembly: 15 February 15 2010
Having spent ten years in Government, I am aware of both the great challenges which have confronted us since 1994 and of how much still remains to be done to meet the minimum objectives promised with our liberation. I was committed to the agenda of social and economic liberation while I was in Government, and I remain committed to it from the opposition benches.
Last week the President often referred to us all as being "compatriots", and indeed we are. In addition, I respect the President, warts and all, because behind him - rightly or wrongly - lies the will and democratic mandate of 66% of the South African people. I could not hinder or oppose him without opposing the South African people. However, I must differentiate between the will of the South African people and that which is required to deliver to the people what they expect.
In this critical time the President stands to fail and words alone will not fix problems. I cannot afford to see the President and his Government fail.
If they fail, my own country fails. If the President and his Government fail, I will not applaud and rejoice, but weep; for if they fail, our liberation fails. In this time of economic turbulence and enormous challenges, we are in this boat together and together we will either sail or sink. Therefore, the type of engagement I seek and offer the President is in the recognition that my admonitions, criticism and insight is being offered with no interest in mind but the success of our country and the survival of our liberation process.
From this perspective, I must denounce and warn against the practice of making exaggerated and unrealistic promises, which Government has pursued and does not seem to be willing to ever relinquish. We must stop insulting the intelligence of our people, especially the poorest of the poor. We are experiencing social ruptures, widespread protests and ever-rising dissatisfaction because what was promised has not been delivered. This cannot be addressed by promising more, unless we wish to see the social unrest rising out of control into a wave which wipes us all out.
I am convinced, Mr President, that if we stop treating our people as if they are morons, by promising them pies in the sky, they will be with us. We do not need to promise what can obviously not be delivered. After all, we are not even in this democratic dispensation for that long. We knew that we started governing a people the majority of whom comprise the poorest of the poor; people who were deliberately kept under conditions of deprivation. Let us not therefore pretend to be latter day Pied Pipers of Hamelin. The Pied Piper, according to the fable, blew his pipe and all the rats followed him.
We must not pretend to our people that we have any magic wands. We should refrain from insulting our people by running to them with food hampers during elections, which we know cannot be sustained.
This Government cannot continue to try and be everything to everyone. This is the time to take a developmental direction and pursue it with single-minded determination. The economic and social crises require firm stewardship. In this process, I plead with the President to heed my admonition rather than the call for easy populism and radicalism, often fuelled by a long-obsolete communist mindset.
Before it hit South Africa, I warned to government that we would not be spared from the mounting world economic depression. In the same week, there was a 'Financial Mail' cover story with our then Honourable Minister of Finance's photograph on the cover, in which the Minister was saying that according to Government Advisors we will not be as ravaged by the recession as other countries. The impression was that depression would bypass South Africa. Thereafter, from our benches we warned the Government not to give excessive credence to the same economic advisors who are now touting the exaggerated promise of a quick economic recovery, looking for green shoots in the underbush of a dying forest of economic depression. Do we want to brand ourselves as a Nation of denialism? We have been in denial, whether it came to crime or whether it was HIV/AIDS.
I praise the President for the announcement he made about the new long-term programme of infrastructural development. But it will take time before its economic benefits will be felt. In the meantime we need to deal with the projected downturn in the construction industry after the third quarter, which will coincide with the recessionary effects always following the completion of the infrastructural work and expenses associated with WorldCups or Olympic Games. I fear that the people of South Africa are going to experience much greater economic anguish after August this year, and we must prepare for that.
Our economic vision must be clear and avoid all which is confusing. The talk of nationalisation is most detrimental as is the ambiguity with which the President has fudged this issue when he said that the matter is open for debate. If we don't make the clear and unequivocal statement that we shall not nationalize anything which can stand on its economic feet in this time of crisis, we will deter domestic and foreign investors who might look at South Africa as a land of opportunity.
I must admit that as we grew up as young African Nationalists in the ANC we were quite fascinated by nationalisation. I paid two visits to the late President Julius Nyerere. My first trip was paid to Mwalimu to thank him for giving sanctuary to all our political exiles. On the second occasion I wanted to see UJAMA - African Socialism in operation. President Nyerere was a very honest politician. He gave me his book '10 YEARS AFTER ARUSHA'. And he was already admitting some of his mistakes in implementing African Socialism - UJAMA.
In 1994 when President Nyerere came to South Africa, he visited me in my office as Minister of Home Affairs. He told me that in 1980 he said the following words to President Mugabe, when he was then installed as the first Prime Minister of a democratic Zimbabwe: "You have inherited a jewel (referring to the economy of Zimbabwe). Don't do what I did in Tanzania. Don't destroy it." The rest is history!
My stand against nationalisation is not inconsistent with my having voiced in this House for three years the need of nationalising the Reserve Bank, as was done in the United Kingdom, so that Government may begin regaining control over what we use as our money and hope that we may one day move towards a debt-free currency.
We must go beyond the commitment not to nationalise, to adopt the policy of privatizing anything which will be better off if relinquished from Government ownership and which taxpayers have no business in financing. Our anguished taxpayers have no reason to continue to pay the bill for companies that operate at a perpetual loss, only because they have found in the State an indulgent sugar-daddy who continues to pour out money with no hope of return, such as Denel and South African Airways. If privatized, these companies will find their right positioning in the marketplace.
A year has passed and little has been done to bring about the savings promised last year, with the prospect of the taxpayer having to continue to pay for the constant mismanagement of the Land Bank and many other State entities which have now been out of control for years. I urge the President to speak with one tongue and with a loud voice, to provide iron-fist leadership in economic matters and cut into positions of privilege, consolidated economic turf and institutional corruption, without fear of inflicting pain or creating resentment; for the rest of the country will recognize and applaud his leadership. To him I say: be merciless in shutting down the many State institutions which do not deliver, and re-direct their funding towards those which do. I know that the President referred to what he called a review of the parastatals in his interview with the SABC on Saturday. We must now move beyond just rhetoric on this issue.
This is not a time in which the country can endure hesitation or a wishy-washy benevolent style of leadership. At the risk of his unpopularity, it is time for the President to rise to the challenge of being tough and determined. If one tries to be all things to all men one ends up being neither fish nor fowl!
The priorities he identified for us have remained unchanged since 1994. They are the health crisis, the education crisis, the crime and corruption crises, the unemployment crisis and the rural development challenge. As these problems have become worse since 1994, we must accept that they are not going to be solved within the present paradigm. Albert Einstein defined madness as expecting different results while continuing to do the same thing.
In education we must have the courage of failing teachers who do not produce results and stop this nonsense of refusing to perform a thorough assessment of teachers' skills and education. A teacher whose class does not obtain the desired results for two years in a row should be immediately dismissed, as should the Principal of a school with poor results. Please, Mr President, implement what you have announced. The plight of our education system is so serious that the President need not be intimidated by the threats of the Teachers' Union.
As the President knows, in the erstwhile KwaZulu we had a much higher pass rate than we now have in the very same schools, in spite of the standard having been lowered and the amount of money spent for education and teacher training dramatically increased. This is unacceptable. As a country we cannot afford to lower educational and exam standards, unless we wish to commit national suicide by installments.
The crime situation is out of control. According to the crime statistics published on NationMaster.com South Africa has the highest per capita level of murder by firearm, rape and assault anywhere in the world where crime statistics exist, and has the second highest level of murder by means other than firearms. The solution to this massive crisis is not through quick fixes, such as calling on the police to become trigger-happy, at the risk of slaughtering innocent bystanders and suspects alike.
Let's face it; generally speaking, our police does not have the required capacity to identify and interrogate witnesses, to collect and secure evidence, and prepare and present cases for prosecution. This is a result of both lack of training and lack of resources. The fundamental problem with crime is that most criminals have a legitimate expectation of impunity. In most parts of our country, crime is still amateurish. But as it flourishes, the crime industry becomes better organized, which will find our police even less prepared to cope with what is likely to come. Let us no longer rely on words, words, words. We need better trained and better resourced policemen, and higher standards which may force those who do not live up to the new required levels of output, performance, training and education to leave the force and find other opportunities for employment.
We cannot continue to carry deadwood in the police service and in the public service alike. After 1994 it was unavoidable and necessary for a number of insufficiently-qualified people to be inserted in the public service or promoted beyond their natural talents, education and training. However, this has created a pervasive climate of inefficiency and poor performance often adjusted to the performance of the minimum common denominator. We now have the benefit of a new generation of bright, competent and well-trained younger people who have come through the ranks of our universities and the civil service itself. It is time to sort the wheat from the chaff and get rid of those who cannot keep up with the very challenges which the President has outlined.
Government is people. And if the people in Government are not good enough to carry forward what it takes to overcome the challenges the President has identified, no matter what the President says and no matter what his Ministers commit themselves to doing, our Government will not deliver.
Finally, I plead to now stop the rhetoric of celebrations. As the President has kindly recognized, I dedicated my life to the release of President Mandela and other political prisoners, and the unbanning of political parties. I have spent my life in the struggle for liberation. But the struggle before us is now greater than what we were facing before 1994. We knew that political liberation would eventually come, even if it might happen after our own lifetimes. In the struggle for prosperity now before us there is no certainty of victory, and our failure would crush the hopes of a continent and destroy our people.
Also in this respect, we must not insult the intelligence of our people. They cannot feed their families with celebrations, whether they are the celebrations of our past victories, or the centennial celebrations of our country's unity, or the celebration of victories achieved on soccer or cricket fields.
I urge the President to mobilize the immense support he has amongst the grassroots of South Africa for a new national struggle, calling on the collective upliftment and individual development of our population. We need a national effort of historical proportions, built on education, work, education, work, education and work and more work.
Our generation sacrificed to bequeath freedom onto the next generation. The present generation must understand that with the same spirit of mission, it must sacrifice, so that its collective hard work and dedication may bequeath prosperity upon the next generation.
Both I and my Party want to help the President in this effort if he accepts to rise to the challenge of becoming the leader of a national movement which cuts through all the nonsense, wherever it is found, and puts us all to work to build that better future we all have dreamed of for so many generations.
Issued by the Inkatha Freedom Party, February 15 2010
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