Speaking notes for UDM President, Mr Bantu Holomisa
1. Welcome
On behalf of the entire United Democratic Movement (UDM) leadership, I extend a word of welcome to all of you gathered here today as we commemorate Human Rights Day in South Africa.
For each of you, being present is a personal sacrifice and is contribution to the life of the UDM. The UDM leadership therefore thanks you for investing your money, time and energy to be here, as we honour those who have come before us in the fight for a just and equal South African society; free of the shackles of Apartheid.
2. Remembering those who came before us
Today, we remember the Sharpeville massacre of 1960 when police opened fire on thousands of people who protested the draconian pass laws. We will never forget that almost 300 lives were irrevocably changed that day; with 69 souls making the ultimate sacrifice so that we can, today, enjoy our civil liberties in a post-apartheid South Africa.
The great tragedy of what happened that day, is that it was not the end of the struggle for the dignity and freedom of non-white South Africans.
A few days later, on March the 31st, more than twenty people were massacred in a march against the pass laws in Langa, Cape Town.
We had the Soweto Uprising – who will ever forget the iconic picture of the limp body of young Hector Pietersen? Much of which followed, happened in the name of the armed struggle, which affected black and white alike.
Today, is also the 33rd commemoration of the 1985 Uitenhage Langa Massacre, where at least twenty people were killed at a Sharpeville commemoration.
On this day, we also remember the 1992 Bhisho Massacre and the tragic deaths in Boipatong, where the fires of the so-called black-on-black violence were stoked for the most nefarious of goals. Soon Shell House followed.
The word “massacre” far too often marks low-points in our history; and this does not even quantify the sacrifices that so many other black and white South Africans made, so that we may all enjoy political freedom.
3. What does Human Rights Day mean in 2018?
Sadly, that awful word, again scarred our nation’s consciousness when we witnessed the Marikana massacre, which was the single most lethal use of force by South African security forces against civilians since 1960. Like at Sharpeville, many of the victims were shot in the back whilst trying to flee for their lives.
We witnessed (what can arguably be considered as a massacre) when over a thousand patients were relocated to mainly unlicensed NGOs by order of the Gauteng Department of Health… 144 people lost their lives in this tragedy… and they were vulnerable people who most needed their human rights to be protected!
It is therefore clear, that fighting for human rights (even when it is entrenched in our constitution), should remain on our daily radars. We cannot afford to forget our history and we must work hard to not repeat the atrocities of the past.
May all their souls rest in peace.
4. The state of the nation in brief
Despite the changes for the better since 1994, South Africa still faces, amongst others, challenges such as unemployment; inadequate housing and poor living conditions; sub-standard education; a dilapidated public healthcare system; the deeply emotional issue of land; stark racial, gender and economic inequality, as well as the scarcity of opportunities.
The changing political landscape in South Africa, particularly over the past few years, has demonstrated that South Africans are tired of the so-called self-correcting nature of the ruling party.
The UDM must certainly pat itself on the back for bringing about the change we witnessed with our now infamous former President’s exit from office.
I remind you that we, last year, amassed in our thousands to march against this corrupt, constitutionally delinquent man who could no longer be trusted to lead the nation.
The UDM went all the way to the Constitutional Court to fight for the “secret ballot” to rid South Africa of “Suspect Number One”. We have consistently made our voice heard in the media and kept ourselves relevant in the body politic of this country.
The opposition, civil society, the media and the courts can rightly say that they fulfilled their tasks as part of the checks and balances that protect good governance and ensure a healthy democracy.
Yes, 2018 ushered in a new South African president. But, despite the so-called right noises we hear from the Union Buildings, the question remains the same as it had been in 2017 and the preceding years…
Notwithstanding the billions of rands spent on infrastructure development since the advent of democracy, just last week a five-year-old girl died, because of poor school infrastructure, when she fell into a pit latrine at a school in the Eastern Cape.
Keiskamahoek is on fire because, amongst others, the local roads are beyond repair, because of the current government’s failure to even maintain the infrastructure they inherited in 1994. In this small town, street lights are a luxury, post the so-called new wave.
Here in Gauteng, we still have the toll roads, which the people of this province cannot afford and drives up the cost of living. In fact, the Esidimeni Life tragedy points to a public health infrastructure, in this province, that have been neglected to the point where our people are dying for no reason at all.
The UDM is very clear that, without a clear and focused investment into a comprehensive infrastructure development programme, the challenges of poverty, unemployment, inequality and underdevelopment shall continue to haunt our nation.
In this regard, the UDM will in the second term of Parliament lead a debate in the National Assembly on this matter. We invite you to submit your ideas on what needs to be done in regards to infrastructure development.
5. How do we recue South Africa from the slippery slope of entrenched corruption and the maladministration of an uncaring government?
We all know that, putting a fresh coat of paint on a delipidated car, does not make it new. Underneath the hood it is still has an engine that will leave you in the lurch (especially when you need it to perform at its best).
Voters can no longer afford to be fooled by this leopard trying to convince us that it has changed its spots.
The fact remains that the very people who presided over our county’s decline over the past few years are still at the helm.
It is the same so-called leaders who were hell-bent on defending their corrupt colleague, even after the writing was on the wall.
It’s even worse, when that very same party ropes in the same dubious character to work in its campaigns for the 2019 National and Provincial Elections.
Clearly the “new dawn” is a continuation of the sunset it preceded. A Looter Continua!