The following speech was delivered in Parliament’s debate of the 2019 State of the Nation Address.
In his first state of the nation address since going to the country for his own electoral mandate, President Ramaphosa shared with us his dreams. Let me be clear: there is nothing wrong with dreams, provided that they have a plan. For dreams without plans are merely fantasies
The President is not the only one who dreams…
So while you, Mr. President, were dreaming of the fantastical city of Ramakandla in the sky with bullet trains whizzing by:
The young school leaver in Limpopo dreams of finding a job…
The factory worker in Alberton dreams of the last time he had a decent job…
The sick person lying in a state hospital in Kimberley dreams of proper care and just getting better…
The learner in rural KwaZulu-Natal dreams of having a teacher who actually understands the maths and science she is teaching…
The resident in Helenvale who dreams of a safe street free of bullets, gangsters and drug peddlers…
The mother in Mpumalanga dreams of just one night when she can send her children to bed with a full tummy…
For it is only in these dreams that these citizens find temporary refuge from the waking nightmare of unemployment, crime, poverty and struggle that is daily life for far too many of our people in this country.
And for successive elections, these citizens have placed their dreams at the feet of successive ANC government administrations- like the lines of Irish playwright, William Butler Yeats, they have said:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams
And yet successive ANC administrations have done precisely the opposite, they have stamped out opportunity, they have crushed the dreams and they have robbed the very lifeblood of survival.
And after the despair of the Zuma years, and with an electoral mandate under your belt, what was needed was a good dose of brass tacks, hard reality and bold reforms.
What they, and what we, were desperate to hear last Thursday and today was concrete plans on how to realise the dreams. Now is the time for action, the clarion call to service, the rallying cry against corruption, the decisive demolishing of the roadblocks to growth and progress.
Instead, we got more dreams and virtuous ends with ten year sell by dates- basically you say for the next ten years: “don’t call me, I’ll call you.”
Ten years? We don’t have ten years, we don’t exist in some utopian dream in which we can fluffily float around for a decade, we are in the nightmare of immediacy. We are in a race against the clock to get our country working and to get our people back to work, to deliver services.
Dreams without plans are merely fantasies, and we heard lots of those today!
And we have shown clearly as the Democratic Alliance where we govern in the Western Cape, that you don’t need to dream it, when you can do it!
We have shown that you can have a strong, stable and growing economy that gives all South Africans a stake- but it requires clear and unambiguous decisiveness that delivers an enterprise economy that promotes aspiration, an economy that focuses on equality of individual opportunity, not on equality of group outcome.
We can have aspiration, as long as it is enabled and underpinned by an education system that ensures that every individual can develop their talents to the fullest – being passionate about an education system that places the learner at the centre, not the union boss, is the very best economic policy we can adopt. If we don’t start investing in our people, we will never reverse unemployment and our economic and social decline.
We can have a clean and accountable government that delivers for the people and not the politicians, but it requires a ruthless commitment to cleaning up and cleaning out the corrupt rent seekers, even if they are in your own ranks. It means sacking them, not rewarding their misdeeds by putting then in cabinet and appointing them committee chairs in our Parliament.
But all of this requires courage and resolve. And that’s what worries us, it’s what shakes the nation awake from the dream. The question on everybody’s lips is: “do you have the courage and resolve Mr. President?” You’re going to need it in bucketloads and you’re going to need to demonstrate it far better than you have to date.
Because you are up against it.
The longer you fail to take the hard decisions, the harder it will become to do so.
The more you delay the deep reforms, the further the economy will drift away.
The longer you pander to the corrupt and rotten in your party, the more the doubts pile up.
Mr. President heed this warning: Ace Magashule is like a vulture that has flown in fresh from picking dry the carcass of the Free state administration. He is moving against you Mr. President, he has deployed his minions into key positions in this house to weaken you, and just like a vulture, he is perched at Luthuli House waiting for that first carrion whiff of weakness that will signal the kill.
The longer you remain agnostic to the Magashule maneuvering, and the more you tiptoe around Ace, calling him “My Boss” and telling us that “without him you are nothing” the harder you stamp on the dreams of our citizens.