The following speech was delivered during Parliament’s Debate of National Importance on Corruption related to Covid-19 tenders.
South Africans can be forgiven for having foreseen that months after the world’s most devastating global health crisis, this House would debate the theft and misuse of public money meant for our response to this pandemic.
We would all be forgiven because history would vindicate us.
We would be justified because true to form, the very people who are meant to have led us through this time would be the ones who would steal shamelessly from the public purse.
The President has made strong statements against the corruption that has taken place over the past several months.
However, those are once again words that ring absolutely hollow.
After all, he has – without a shred of irony – told the country the country that he will always choose the ANC over his responsibilities as the South African president.
It is no surprise that he is not bothered about preaching brave words in his weekly newsletter while seated next to some of the most corrupt individuals both in this House and at Luthuli House.
His loyalties are not to the people of this country.
He is loyal to the interests of the ANC.
This is exactly why we find ourselves debating corruption in Parliament while the real criminals roam around free in state-sponsored luxury vehicles and all the perks that come with being a member of South Africa’s political elite.
We are truly not led.
At a time when South Africa needed leaders with integrity who would step up to the challenge of saving lives and livelihoods, we were shackled by the liability that is our current leadership.
While people of the Eastern Cape fought each other for mere oxygen in hospitals, comrades were stacking their pockets.
While healthcare workers worked under the most strenuous conditions, valiantly saving lives, the politically connected pocketed government contracts in the millions.
While many family members lost multiple loved ones to this pandemic, our government officials found loopholes in the emergency procurement processes to steal and loot.
It truly is an indictment on this government.
As a young leader in this country, I am deeply ashamed to be sitting across some of you who have the audacity to want to be called honourable members.
There is nothing honourable about people who would rather get rich on the backs of the very people who elected you to serve them.
Before many of you nizingombe isifuba ngoba ingenini ababe imali, you are all complicit.
Each one of you would rather defend your comrades than call out criminality when you see it.
These are your colleagues, your comrades and the people who are quick to remind us that they fought hard for the liberation of this country.
You may have fought diligently for this democracy but with every cent of public money stolen, that legacy is washed away.
The legacy of this organization will be that of a political party etye imali abantu besifa.
The arguments advanced here by the past speakers are disappointing but not surprising.
What should have been said is an unequivocal apology to the people of South Africa.
A commitment to ensure that every single one of those implicated in corruption to the tune of billions of rands is removed from leadership positions both within the ANC and in government;
And an earnest undertaking to ensure that our law-enforcement agencies are empowered to arrest and prosecute corrupt politicians and public servants.
We wanted to hear a unanimous call to arrest them all.
Every single one of those who were entrusted with the keys to the public safe and abused the privilege should go to jail.
Send them all to jail!
Instead what we got was platitudes; empty words and an unrepentant government that is bound to repeat the very abhorrent behavior that is being condemned here.
The only way South Africa can be saved from the abuse we have endured by this government is its swift removal at the polls.
Never has something been more urgent. It is now clear that nothing is off limits from the ANC – not even the lives of the people of this country.
Jail them all!