Today marks the 32nd anniversary of President Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela’s release from 27 years of incarceration. His release was a momentous event for our nation and for all who stood in solidarity with our struggle for freedom.
The State of the Nation Address (SONA) delivered yesterday by HE President Ramaphosa was a good indication of how far we have come since uNkosi Dalibhunga’s release. Unfortunately, despite numerous stellar achievements by our ANC led government we have not been able to make sufficient progress in changing the quality of life of the poorest of the poor.
When the father of our nation returned to the OR Tambo District after he was released and visited the place where he was born and raised the unemployment, poverty and inequality was palpable and evident wherever you went. This condition still prevails and OR Tambo District is still regarded as the poorest area in South Africa and like a multitude of other impoverished areas both urban and rural is cause for great concern.
We will have to go to extraordinary lengths to address this precarious situation to avoid a repeat of what we witnessed in July 2021. We cannot countenance that our hard earned democratic gains be undermined and destroyed by seditionists, agente provocateurs and third force elements. Neither can we allow the dereliction of duty to the masses of poor people to result in
mass destruction, suffering and hardship.
Whilst we applaud the measures announced in the SONA to stimulate investment, provide an enabling environment, ease business constraints and reduce red tape, South Africa cannot contend with more business as usual approaches. The failed insurrection of July 2021 wiped out more than R150 billion and the prevailing conditions of unemployment, poverty and inequality pose a risk that is exponentially greater.
The social compact called for by President Ramaphosa must urgently address these pressing issues. We cannot skirt around land reform and restitution, redistribution of wealth and the radical economic transformation called for by the ANCs Nasrec Conference Resolutions in 2017. The Local Government Elections 2021 taught us that the level of frustration and dissatisfaction is deep and profound and the masses of our people are running thin on patience. Promises don’t feed people.
We must be particularly concerned when the DA is the most vociferous in its applause for SONA 2022 as they have shown their colours and demonstrated there loyalty to preserving white privilege.
We also welcome President Ramaphosa’s repeated and unequivocal stand on corruption and wholeheartedly support him in this regard. Those who continue to abuse the resources dedicated to providing much needed services to our people must be dealt with and face the full might of the law.
In the light of this SONA 2022 we make a special appeal to those financial institutions who have built empires on the back of workers and working class people’s pension funds to come to the party and join the social compact to make a difference in the lives of the poor and suffering.
Workers struggles fill tomes in the history of our struggle and they persist to this day. The ongoing case of the Clover workers strike is a case in point and we wholeheartedly and unequivocally support them and their demands. We cannot allow the sweat of workers to be exported without them being the just beneficiaries of their labour.
We must in the context of the social compact be unequivocal in our position that there is no escape from land reform, restitution and wealth redistribution. We cannot countenance business as usual. We do so at the peril of the nation and those who only seek to protect their privilege are as complicit as the seditionists and those who nefariously stoke insurrection, mayhem and discord.
When the Parliament of the Republic of South Africa rises again from its ashes we will reflect again on SONA 2022 and revisit President Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela’s sagacious words in his inaugural State of the Nation Address on the 24th May 1994 from the very balcony of the City Hall where yesterday’s SONA was delivered when he said: “And so we must, constrained by and yet regardless of the accumulated effect of our historical burdens, seize the time to define for ourselves what we want to make of our shared destiny.”
We have a choice to carry on with business as usual or in the spirit of President Ramaphosa’s social compact collectively dedicate ourselves to rid our nation of the burden of poverty and inequality. To do so requires that we emulate Madiba on this historic day 11th February 1990 when he addressed the nation and said: “I place the remaining days of my life in your hands.” Is there any willing to serve?
Nkosi Zwelivelile “Mandla” Mandela, chief of the Mvezo Traditional Council and grandson of famed South African President Nelson Mandela. Member of Parliament (MP) South Africa National Assembly. All articles by Nkosi Zwelivelile “Mandla” Mandela