Address by the President of the UDM, Mr BH Holomisa MP, in the National Assembly

Honourable Chairperson
Minister and Deputy Minister
Honourable Members

The United Democratic Movement (UDM) supports budget vote 30 – Environmental Affairs.In my limited time I will dedicate this speech to Madiba, the environmentalist.

When the President of the republic made a call to all South Africans, to remember and celebrate this years’ birthday of this environmental activist by participating in cleaning activities, it reminded me of the olden days in the former Transkei when the 26th of October each year and as an Independence Day, the government will work together with its people, dedicating the day to a clean and healthy environment.

In celebrating the first birthday of Tata Madiba, without him, we can’t but remember his passionate love and care for the nature and the environment, its relation to human kind and the people of South Africa in general.

I am reminded of one of the question this icon directly asked me when he returned from his early village walks in Qunu during the early 90s.

He asked me: “Bantu what happened to all the birds that used to inhabit this place, their harmonious sounds, their beautiful singing which made them to enjoy the tranquillity and nature of the village”.

In response to Madiba, I said: “….due to the high level of poverty in the area, local people were forced to fell trees for use as wood fuel”.

Certainly, there is a direct relationship between poverty and environment and unfortunately it is not always a good one.

The concern in the question by Madiba exposed us to the need to urgently give an immediate attention to preserve our environment.

The reforestation programmes for an example, will one day make it possible to have the pleasure of walking through a forest, listening to the beautiful sounds of nature as Madiba so wished.

To realise his wish, the UDM suggests that as part of the much talked about cultural liberation route from Maritzburg should be to consider establishing what we would call Madiba or Nelson Mandela Forests.

Such forests would go a long way in responding to the challenges of climate change, biodiversity management, combat desertification, heritage, conservation and facilitate sustainable economic growth and job creation.

Given the current questionable infrastructure development map of our country, this proposal would present an opportunity for equitable reconstruction of our country.

In one of his encouraging letters to me during the occasion of the tree planting ceremony in Mqanduli in 2010, Madiba said “It is wonderful to think that one day people will again have the pleasure of walking through a forest, listening to the beautiful sounds of nature … these are things no child should be deprived of”.

Thank you