Address by Mr Bantu Holomisa, MP (UDM President) at the UDM Rally part of celebration of Youth Month Impala No. 8, Freedom Park (Rustenburg, North West) on Monday, 17 June 2013
Members of the UDM NEC;
Presidents of the UDM Youth Vanguard and Women’s Organisation
UDM Public Representatives
Fellow UDM members and supporters and
Young South Africans
Thank you to all of you who have come today to make this celebration possible. The structures of the United Democratic Movement (UDM) in the North West in particular have worked very hard to bring us all together; thank you.
To our Secretary General, Mr Bongani Msomi, and our National Treasurer, Mrs Thandi Nontenja, thank you for the hard work and hours of sweat.
YOUTH DAY 2013
Every year we commemorate the events that took place on 16 June 1976 in the Soweto. What happened that day is a stark reminder of what an oppressive government is able to do to its people.
One would have expected that the incumbent government would have learnt a lesson from the past and strive at all cost to not repeat history.
The problem is however, that South Africans from all walks of life, especially the mining communities in this part of the world, feel powerless and voiceless – nobody listens. Do they?
THE STATE OF THE NATION 2013
Yes, we have attained political freedom, but much still needs to be done to realise the dreams and the aspirations of our fallen heroes and heroines.
When we assess South Africa since 1994 we need to ask: “Are South Africans more free in 2013?”.
From the UDM’s point, socio-economic freedom depends on certain basic conditions that affect citizens’ physical ability, but are also directly linked to their dignity, including the following:
- Jobs – there must be productive employment and a decent living wage for our people. In the long run, food security can only be achieved and hunger beaten if people have jobs.
- Education – without knowledge and skills people cannot make informed decisions and achieve their goals, and so enhance their livelihoods.
- Health – people need to be healthy and have adequate health care in order to reach their full potential and share in the benefits of a democratic society.
- Security – people who feel under siege from criminals in their homes, neighbourhoods and places of work cannot fully concentrate on pursuing their aspirations.
- Property ownership – without ownership of land and property people are unable to participate actively in the economic and social life of the country.
Considering these factors, one cannot draw any other answer to the question I posed earlier i.e. are South Africans truly free? The answer is no.
MINING INDUSTRY IN SOUTH AFRICA
For instance, it cannot be right that, since the days when our grandfathers worked the mines no mineworker has benefited from digging our mineral wealth. Many mineworkers die poor, while thousands suffer from incurable diseases caused by working in the mines.
Big mining companies, such as Anglo American and Billiton own mines and still have mining rights which are valid for many years. They use these rights to unilaterally decide when to mine and why. They abuse this power during the wage negotiations with labour by threatening to close down shafts when workers make demands.
They often get away with this unbecoming behaviour because of the protection they receive from the select few members of the ruling elite, who have mining rights.
We have to nip this behaviour in the bud by getting mining companies to offload some of their mining rights to the people. This will serve as an incentive to employees and the new mining companies to promote productivity and to increase competition in the industry.
Another weakness in the economic policies of the current government is beneficiation. Every time we send goods overseas to be processed.
Government brags about its planned railway line project. However, what it does not tell the public is that the manganese to be used in its construction is going to be processed outside the country.
This is sadly the case in all too many of our industries, including the mining industry.
At this day age control and ownership of the economy is still a pipe dream despite Black Economic Empowerment (BEE).
To create jobs, we need to demand that Government take steps to ensure that 50 per cent to 60 per cent of our goods are beneficiated locally.
We, in particular, understand the challenges Platinum Belt mineworkers face on a daily basis, and this includes the collusion we observe by those in the ruling party who are “mining business partners”. We see a double standard applied; the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) have larger numbers than the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and yet, in terms of the law, you are not given due recognition.
Instead, they play delay tactics. Now that we are going for elections, they resort to shenanigans and say: “let’s talk”. It is clear that the laws are there for them, and not others. The question should be can you trust them. You are not schoolchildren, to be treated as such, and the UDM is of the opinion that you need to engage directly with the employer, and if possible avoid “negotiating” with BEE fronts.
Mineworkers and their communities have gone through a particularly bad period of frustration, violence and sadness. It is a difficult time for you, but the UDM supports all attempts to make sure this industry is sustainable and violence free.
IT IS EASY TO CAST STONES, BUT WHAT ARE THE SOLUTIONS?
SOLUTION: ECONOMIC INDABA
The UDM believes that an Economic Indaba, on the scale of Codesa, should be hosted as soon as possible to find solutions to the aforementioned fundamental challenges.
The UDM wants all stakeholders to participate in such an Indaba, to give them the opportunity to say their say, and be heard – but most importantly to be part of the solution.
SOLUTION: GOVERNMENT MUST DO MORE
Our point of departure is that socio-economic freedom can only be achieved by a Government that is willing to invest in its own economy and its people, especially considering the history of our country.
“Government must do more” i.e. it must:
- Reverse the decision of the de-industrialisation which led to millions of lost jobs and reintroduce incentive schemes, because we are competing against products that are heavily subsided.
- Review the funding model of our expensive education system which fails to produce skills required by employees.
- Take another look at the rural and urbanisation strategy, as the current policies have allowed people to build anywhere they like – as a result our cities are turning into slums.
- Start properly integrating the former homelands and townships’ infrastructure into the developed parts of this country.
- Look at our system of budgeting – do we allocate resources according to the size of the population or its needs?
- Address South Africa’s failing food security programmes.
- Build an internal economic capacity in our country to minimise the growing xenophobia which is spawned by competition for scarce resources by locals and immigrants.
- Constantly review South Africa’s international trade tariffs and duties to protect developing local industries, encourage exports, increase international trade and support inbound tourism.
- Urgently address rampant crime and lawlessness.
- Ensure that the civil service, government departments and state owned enterprises are run effectively and are corruption free.
- Lead in the promotion of entrepreneurship amongst our people and remove the bureaucratic obstacles.
- Continue to contribute to the peace and stability inside our borders, with our immediate neighbours and the rest of the Continent.
- Make the environment a priority today, or our children and their children will face great hardship tomorrow.
WE CAN COMPLAIN FOREVER, BUT WHAT ARE WE DOING?
It is a fact that many things are wrong, or they could be better, in South Africa.
We will not forget those who lost their lives, at that time and afterward and may their souls rest in peace, but we need to take important lessons from the history of this Country.
It would however be wonderful if we could all leave here today; feeling inspired. Each of us have power and have choices; we can sit and cry forever about what is wrong, or we can roll up our sleeves and make things change.
Each and every one of us must take hands with those around us, even those with whom we disagree; and take responsibility for our actions. The UDM is convinced that the all South Africans are capable of consolidating and protecting the order that was ushered in after all the suffering, sacrifice and dedication.
The tragic events of 1976 and 2012, amongst other such dates, should be a stark reminder that we have to work harder to resolve our differences by talking and not physical violence.
As a nation, we should be vigilant and create more opportunities for debate on a regular basis with the express purpose of trying to heal the wounds of our divided past and continue building on the gains we have made to transform South Africa into a Winning Nation.
I thank you.