• Mr Mbhazima Shilowa
• Leaders of the UDM in the Free State
• My fellow South Africans
This is the third rally, which the United Democratic Movement (UDM) organised this weekend. We yesterday moved from the Western Cape to the Eastern Cape and today we are here in the Free State. The previous weekend we hosted rallies in Limpopo, the North West and in Mpumalanga.
The reason I mention this, is to prove to the doubting thomases that the UDM does not only exist in the Eastern Cape – we indeed have a national footprint.
To all of you, I say “thank you” for welcoming the UDM in your midst. It is heartening to see so many citizens who share the ideal of transforming South Africa into a Winning Nation.
STATE THE NATION
Although some progress has been made over the past five years, corruption has become a hallmark of how the incumbent government conducts its business.
We can no longer beat around the bush… it is a fact that corruption destroys the gains of our freedom. Simple.
Once voters recognise the direct link between
1) the looting of state resources and poor service delivery and
2) a government that sees nothing wrong with corruption,
it makes their decision so much easier. We cannot allow the same hyenas to stay in power for another five years.
These people seem to live in a parallel universe where the poor can be ignored or made fools of. What we witnessed, when Youth League bash in Thembisa on 22 February, it was quite astounding to see their Mini Cooper and big bike brigade in action.
If one considers, for example, that a 2014 Harley Davidson VRod Muscle motorcycle costs nearly R220,00 and that an entry level Mini Cooper sell at around R300,00, it gives one some perspective of what the future holds should they become the next generation of leaders in the African National Congress (ANC).
This lurid and garish display of their fat wallets was totally discordant with what the ANC states as its priorities. Instead it just rubs salt in the wounds of the poor and jobless masses.
On a side note, one cannot help but wonder where do they get the money to maintain their lavish lifestyles.
Therefore, when you have your ballot papers in in hand, ask yourself this: “Do I want to again place my trust in a party that have made a total mockery of their promise to better the lives of our people.
THE AGRICULTURAL SECTOR
The Free State holds great promise, with over 30,000 farms, which produce over 70% of the country’s grain. It is therefore quite clear that agriculture is of paramount importance in the Free State.
We don’t call it the breadbasket of our country for mahala.
A UDM government will:
• prioritise the needs of our farmers by developing policies to subsidise farmers that will enable them to fairly compete against their international counterparts.
• protect the South African market from the dumping of subsidised products.
• promote agriculture as a tool to expand our economy, create jobs and generate wealth.
• put in place the necessary infrastructure that will create jobs and encourage the growth of more employment-creating agricultural-related enterprises, to slow down migration to urban areas i.e. we will bring decent jobs and financial emancipation closer to the people.
The UDM believes that more opportunities should be created for emerging farmers and that they should be equipped with the right knowledge, skills, tools and infrastructure to make a make a commercial success of their farming activities.
Aside from the obvious need to provide education and training to emerging farmers, a UDM government would establish a sectoral bank where they can apply for financing.
Another creative solution that a UDM government would implement is “One-Stop Agricultural Service Centres” where farmers can:
• ask for advice,
• access to veterinary services.
• find the tools and knowledge that are necessary to run their farms as businesses and also to have a market to sell their produce.
The safety and security of those who live in rural areas is of great concern, In addition the Free State is quite vulnerable when it comes to cross-border stock theft.
A UDM government will introduce special units specifically involved in rural safety through the deployment of reserve forces and other government security agencies to provide safety and enhance border control to curb stock-theft and smuggling.
The matter of land reform still is a thorny issue that has to be addressed sooner rather than later.
A UDM government will streamline the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform to speed up the processes and restore land to their rightful owners, because the delays causes uncertainty and tension.
THE MINING SECTOR
The Free State has plentiful mineral deposits, with gold and diamonds being of particular importance.
A UDM government shall make mining one of the major points of discussion at the Economic Indaba that the UDM has long advocated for.
In our view, some of the matters to be discussed are the:
• question of mines and mineral wealth.
• allocation of mining rights to the ruling elite and the implication thereof.
• dealing with the socio-economic conditions of workers and the communities that settle close to where the jobs are.
• controversial issue of mineworkers’ access, or lack thereof, to a provident fund worth billions of rands.
• the unions’ investment arms and the pay-out of dividends to workers who have contributed to the fund.
• the appointment of an independent commission of inquiry to investigate how these workers’ monies had been invested, especially in cases where the workers were retrenched, had retired or passed away.
THE UNDERLYING RACISM IN THE FREE STATE
Racism at the Free State University is of great concern.
Every now and again this cauldron boils over. There are far too many incidents where white students humiliated and physically attacked black students. I do however think that the incident that shocked the nation to its core, was what happened when the so-called ‘Reitz Four” debased the dignity of some of the university’s staff to the point where I feel uncomfortable to describe what the victims had to endure.
The UDM is of the view that there must be harsher punishment for South Africans who make themselves guilty of hate crime in the hope that it will prevent future incidents.
South Africans must take charge of the future of our country. Each citizen has a number of basic human rights as described our Bill of Rights. What we should however remember is that those rights comes with concomitant responsibilities.
On the 7th of May, the people will have an opportunity to bring change to South Africa and the only way this can be successful is that voters much punish the ANC for their failures.
To the UDM teams who have worked tirelessly to make this event a success, thank you for your hard work.
Seven (7) May is right around the corner and we have to work tirelessly to persuade our fellow South Africans that the UDM is a viable alternative.
Good luck in your campaigning.