Cape Town Press Club asks Dr. Corné Mulder of the FF Plus to act as president for one day
The Cape Town Press Club asked Dr. Corné Mulder, chief whip of the FF Plus, today to stand in the president’s shoes and offer an alternate State of the Nation Address.
In his version, Dr. Mulder said that he would in particular be guided by the South African Constitution which determines that the president should uphold, protect and respect the Constitution as the highest law of the country and at all times promote unity in the interest of the country. The full speech follows below:
Address of Dr. Corné Mulder, MP on the alternate State of the Nation Address, Cape Town Press Club, 3 February 2016
Mr. Chairman, ladies and gentlemen members of this illustrious club,
Thank you for the opportunity to address you today.
It is an honour and a huge privilege to address the Cape Town Press Club today and I would like to thank the chairperson and committee for this invitation.
I dedicate my speech today to my brother. No, not the brother that you know, but my other brother, De Wet, who today, five years ago, passed away.
Unlike my predecessor as president, Mr. Zuma, I will not consistently be using the royal “we” when I address myself. It is rightly said that people who refer to themselves as “we” are either royalty or are someone with worms. And I am neither of the two.
I was asked to express my views on an alternative State of the Nation Address, as if I am the president of this country.
The topic gives me the opportunity to ponder dreams of a future South Africa where we embrace one another and where we can live in peace and prosperity.
South Africa is a country with unbelievable beauty and potential. The most beautiful and best in the world one finds here. So too, it is a country with wonderful people. Wonderful people found in every community. And yet one finds at present that South Africa is busy slipping down on nearly every index that exists. Deterioration is visible everywhere.
We find ourselves in 2016. It is nearly 22 years after the birth of this constitutional dispensation. There were enormous expectations after 1994. Some unrealistic, perhaps. Central stood the idea of a rainbow nation and a new South Africa where there would be a place in the sun for everyone. Twenty-two years later the euphoria is gone, the middle ground is busy being eroded at an increased pace into radically opposing fringe views. Very little remained of the rainbow nation and more and more racism is being observed every day on all sides.
My compass and guideline as president has to be the Constitution of South Africa and not what my own party, an alliance partner, or whomever expects of me.
Section 83 (b) and (c) states the following:
(b) must uphold, defend and respect the Constitution as the supreme law of the Republic; and
(c) promotes the unity of the nation and that which will advance the Republic.
Unfortunately, my predecessor did neither.
During last year’s SONA, my predecessor referred to 2015 as the year of the Freedom Charter. He quoted the following well-known section:
“South Africa belongs to all who live in it, black and white, and that no government can justly claim authority unless it is based on the will of all the people.”
The government of my predecessor had for 22 years misread and misunderstood this truth. Since 1994 the government’s policies and views were based on the will of the unholy tripartite alliance and not the will of all the people. That is why we are in the trouble we find ourselves today.
Also in 2015 he expressed his opinion on racism and said: “It is also the year of rededicating ourselves to eradicate racism and all related intolerances in our country.” The opposite however happened.
He further acknowledged that his government’s ambition of achieving a growth target of 5% by 2019 was at risk. For such growth, he was of the opinion that our economy needed a major push forward. He then shared his plan to ignite growth and create jobs with us.
1. Resolving the energy challenge. – Only partially and temporarily solved – we will have to see what the winter of 2016 holds for us.
2. Revitalising agriculture and the agro-processing value chain. – Nothing came of this.
3. Advancing beneficiation or adding value to our mineral resources. – Nothing came of this either.
4. More effective implementation of a higher impacting Industrial Policy Action Plan.- Our industrial policy remains bogged down by a struggle between two differing ideological spheres within government.
5. Encouraging private sector investment. – The private sector still has no incentive to invest.
6. Moderating labour conflict. – We experienced the opposite in many sectors.
7. Unlocking the potential of small, medium and micro enterprises (SMMEs). – The theory remains but in practical terms nothing much happened.
8. State reform and boosting the role of state owned enterprises. – We all know what is happening on this front and most of it is rather negative.
The biggest danger for any government is to believe its own propaganda; that is, to believe that things are going better with a country and its people than what reality is actually telling one, because it’s the propaganda that your government is serving up to it’s people and the world so that you and your party look better. Do everyone a favour and be brutally honest and direct with yourself. Only when one knows what the mistakes and shortcomings are, can one start addressing and fixing it.
The first major fault line in the current South Africa is that we have a wrong recipe for nation building and social cohesion. Without a solution for that, we will continue to struggle without any success because we have divergent forces tearing the very fabric of our society to shreds.
The current recipe for nation building is based on the temporary, artificial, feel-good notion created through major sporting events. It started with the 1995 Rugby World Cup and president Mandela wearing the No. 6 jersey. Then the Cricket World Cup in Cape Town and the bid for the Olympics, the 2010 Soccer World Cup and now aspirations to host the Olympics sometime in the future. Each and every time there is a groundswell of patriotism and a sense of nationhood. But it never lasts for more than a couple of months. We stumble from one sporting event to the next.
South Africa is a very diverse society. That is why we have 11 official languages recognized by our Constitution. True nation building and social cohesion will come about when we stop paying mere lip service to the slogan “united in our diversity”. We need to recognise our diversity as a positive strength. To use the reality of our diversity, our different communities and peoples as strong building blocks for true nationhood. Only then can and will South Africa become a strong nation of nations. Truly united in our diversity.
We live in a country where we do not hate one another. To the contrary: we live in a country where there is mutual respect for each other and room for everyone. Wherever I go, I see the vast reservoir of goodwill amongst people of all races. Why is it that a small minority of people of all races is trying to make this land ungovernable and spoil our way of life, for their own selfish reasons?
Who are the culprits that disrupt our society and allow the rainbow nation to fade into a cloud of more poverty, more job-losses and more concern about a safe and secure future?
More and more ordinary citizens stopped dreaming realistic dreams of a future where we all, and future generations, could live in a country that is peaceful and prosperous. Is this feasible, or unrealistic? Only when we start dreaming of a better future do we become realists.
How does one do that? First and foremost, it is a prerequisite that one takes a close look at the status quo. When this is done, you will rip open a can of worms, starting with a fish that rots from the head.
Our society has become rotten, and I mean rotten to the core. You can sense the nauseating smell of corruption, nepotism, lawlessness and disrespect for the judiciary. Denial has become the leitmotif of a government that is incapable or unwilling to exercise its responsibility to rule in a just and fair manner on behalf of all its citizens. And it has the audacity to expect taxpayers to foot the bill for their squandering and lavish lifestyles that were seen in the final days of collapsing empires.
While the present government is rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic, it has become the duty of each and every law abiding citizen to proclaim “enough is enough”. Enough squandering of taxpayers’ money by fat cats on unnecessary luxuries and abusing power to create a cozy inner-empire within a democratically elected government.
How can this be achieved? By immediately appointing independent forensic auditors in collaboration with the auditor-general to rip open each and every government department, national and provincial, starting with the presidency, followed by the various education departments, public works, public transport, etc. ad nauseam. You will see rats jumping overboard, making the Pied Piper of Hamelin pale into obscurity.
While this process is in progress the following needs to be done:
1. Appoint a new Government of National Unity involving all parties in Parliament (I am not referring to one-member parties). This will send a strong and clear message to all the people of South Africa and the world at large that we are serious to address our current problems. That we are determined to become the winning nation we should be.
2. The number of government departments and ministers will be reduced by at least 50% in order to establish a mean and lean but competent executive, capable of understanding the problems facing the country and able to come up with realistic, workable solutions.
3. Create a new Department of Minority Affairs to deal with all the issues of our various minorities. This will enhance nation building and social cohesion.
4. Elevate the economy to centre-stage while taking all necessary steps to eradicate red-tape and bureaucracy. Have an economic Codesa immediately where the government, private sector and labour will meet. Business confidence declined from an index figure of 66 to 52 over the last quarter and that was before pres. Zuma was playing musical chairs with three ministers of finance in 6 days! The rand, at $1 = R16.50, declined by 45% over the last 12 months. A GDP growth rate of a mere 0,7% is forecast for 2016.
The credit rating agency S&P rated South Africa’s ability to borrow as BBB - which is one-step away from junk status. Should they and Fitch and Moody’s further downgrade the South African economy in June, as is generally anticipated by most banks and economists, we could see an economic implosion of major proportions with serious ramifications for long term growth. The vast majority of financial managers are expressly prohibited by the rules of their own institutions to invest in countries with a sub-investment or junk status.
Should this happen, it will have dire consequences for every South African household, rich or poor.
5. Amend labour legislation and make sure that sections 17 and 23 of the Constitution are strictly adhered to. The power of trade unions needs to be broken. Their influence and stranglehold on our economy and government are major contributors to the dire situation we are in today. The labour market is the greatest cause for concern in the South African economy for 2016. If we see prolonged strikes in mining and manufacturing, it could tip the SA economy into recession.
The sick spirit of entitlement must be broken. You have to accept responsibility and work for what you hope to achieve.
6. Dramatically reduce the size of the public sector. Data clearly shows what is happening in South Africa’s labour markets – the public sector is creating jobs, while the private sector is struggling. If South Africa is going to have a healthy economy, this needs to change now.
7. Public enterprises must be privatized as a matter of urgency. This includes SAA and Eskom. Our economy is being bled dry by ineffective money guzzling public enterprises where you will find the well-connected on Boards and in management.
8. It is important to speed up implementation of the National Development Plan (NDP). When the Planning Commission released its Diagnostic Report in June 2011 there were 19 years to achieve the 2030 goals. Now we have 14 years left and not much has happened.
The NDP clearly sets out what needs to be done. The big problem causing delays in implementing the NDP lies in the opposition from some labour partners of government, the ideological clash in the executive, as well as in the fact that the public service has been transformed into complete paralysis.
Where does one start to build a new future in a country that was once called a rainbow nation. A land of milk and honey that is now scraping the barrel. Let bygones be bygones. Apartheid is dead, already two decades ago. The ghosts of apartheid are still haunting so many people that they forget to contemplate their future. To harp on about a negative past, cannot and will not bring a future of promise and well-being. Will there ever be a day when black and white, coloured and Indian reach out to one another on a grand scale to strive for a better future for all?
The obvious starting point is to give people hope and confidence. Confidence in the government of the day, but also confidence in themselves. Confidence is created by security, where people feel safe. Hope is also an indispensable ingredient to let people start dreaming of a new beginning and a bright future.
This is where leadership starts. South Africa is desperately in need of a joint leadership with an impeccable record of integrity, honesty, wisdom and a vision for the future. A new government of National Unity can provide that.
The future starts when thousands of new jobs are created and the unemployment rate is drastically slashed. How can this be achieved? The South African economy must for all intents and purposes be reactivated. A target growth rate of 3-4% over the next three years is not negotiable, in spite of slow economic growth internationally. It is only with a realistic long-term vision, that a short-term revival can be triggered.
In an interview in Davos of the financial journalist Alec Hogg with the renowned Pakistani banker and entrepreneur, Muhammad Yunus, the latter reminded us that nothing can compete with human ingenuity. For the magic to happen, governments and corporates simply have to get out of the way – replace an entitlement mentality with authentic support for entrepreneurship. Help people to buy nets – stop trying to supply them with fish. This year, Yunus’s ideas will create 30 000 businesses in Bangladesh and another 100 000 in India. But most of all, it helps hundreds of thousands to return to the natural human state of self-employment. The state simply cannot provide for all the wants and needs.
To build a new, safe and prosperous country for everyone living in it, does not need rocket science, miracles or super heroes. All it needs is a government of integrity, honesty, vision and preparedness to work hard. That will bring about a paradigm shift and people will start dreaming of a country again in which they would like to live and work.
May I reiterate the words of Ulysses in the poem by Alfred Lord Tennyson “Come, my friends, “Tis not too late to seek a newer world”.
I thank you for listening to me.
Issued by the FF Plus, 3 February 2016