Colleagues in civil society and political parties
My fellow South Africans
1. Thank you to the organisers
We thank today’s organisers for hosting all of us at this historic celebration of Freedom Day.
It can be argued that civil society was at the centre of the campaign that brought Apartheid to its knees.
We have not forgotten the work of, amongst others, Bishop Tutu and the various faith based organisations, the labour movements and the United Democratic Front.
People were marching across the globe in answer to the clarion call for solidarity against an evil regime.
Little did we know that our new democracy would be vulnerable to a cackle of hyenas that is hell bent on destroying the gains of our freedom.
Fortunately, we are blessed with civil society organisations that have emerged with the message: “No, not under our watch!”.
Truth be told, many did not understand where the opposition parties were coming from when we started our campaign for Jacob Zuma to go once it was clear the he was unsuited for the post of President. As time has gone by, civil society has cottoned onto this critical mission and we are at last walking in the same direction.
Civil society is the conscience of a nation and should continue to play this role. Your mettle will be tested once this suspect President has left office. We expect you to stick to your guns for the good of South Africa and not engage in a battle for the soul of the ruling party.
2. Celebrating Freedom Day
“And so we assemble here today, and in other parts of the country, to mark a historic day in the life of our nation. Wherever South Africans are… our hearts beat as one, as we renew our common loyalty to our country and our commitment to its future.”
This is what uTata Mandela said on 27 April 1995 at the first commemoration of the 1st democratic elections of the New South Africa.
3. An unhappy people: South Africa today
Those words resonate today as we are jubilant in celebrating our free, democratic society.
But, as loyal South Africans, we also express our concern about the slippery slope on which our Country finds itself.
4. The proposed National Convention
We would be naive to deny that South Africa has made make progress in certain areas, but the challenges confronting the Nation are many and complex.
The United Democratic Movement (UDM) therefore mooted the idea of a National Convention. A safe space, on a similar scale to Codesa, where all stakeholders, interest groups and individuals may raise issues; actively listen; engage and convince each other and/or make compromises.
The product of the National Convention should be a hammered-out, common vision in which we can all believe and which Government can implement.
So far, the response to the UDM’s call is encouraging. There is a clear expression of interest from many stakeholders.
I had been requested last week, by opposition leaders, to coordinate the establishment of a steering committee to drive this process. A meeting will take place on the 3rd of May and the steering committee, in its current form, plans to expand for the inclusion of representatives of civil society.
Regarding the No-Confidence Motion in President Zuma, the opposition parties have already met and our programme of action is underway. We will keep you posted on developments.
In line with what we are trying to achieve with the National Convention in which we all participate, Madiba concluded his 1995 speech by saying that “…there is no short-cut to making South Africa the country of our dreams.
• It requires hard work by those entrusted with positions of responsibility in government.
• It demands that workers and employers work together to produce efficiently and compete with the best in the world, to achieve equity and to help create more jobs.
• It requires hard work on the part of farmers and farm-workers, to feed the nation and provide raw materials, even in the face of adversity.
• It requires hard work by students and teachers to build a literate, skilled and learned nation.
• It requires greater exertion by our sports-persons and artists to always offer the best for the country and its people.
• It demands of all of us, wherever we may be, to exercise our rights as citizens; and do so without infringing on the rights of others.”
Freedom Day 2017 speaking notes of Mr BH Holomisa, MP (UDM President) at a Multi-Stakeholder Rally at the Caledonian Stadium (Pretoria)