DA welcomes South Africa’s election to UN Security Council

The DA welcomes South Africa’s election as a non-permanent member of the United Nation’s Security Council. 

This is a positive step towards Africa’s representation on the global stage. South Africa now, once again, has an opportunity to reaffirm our status as a leader in Africa. 

Our government’s voting on the council must reflect our commitment to human rights and repair the damage of the Zuma-administration. 

Our previous stint on the council damaged South Africa’s image internationally due to our questionable voting patterns. 

We must ensure that this time around our voting patterns are in line with democratic ideals and in the best interest of, not just South Africa, but our continent as a whole. 

The DA will keep a keen eye on South Africa’s voting record on the council and we will not refrain from holding the government accountable. 

Esidimeni: those responsible must be personally accountable

The following address was delivered by the Leader of the Democratic Alliance, Mmusi Maimane, at Talisman Foundation in Johannesburg today. The Leader unveiled a plaque to commemorate the hundreds of mentally ill South Africans who lost their lives at the hands of the ANC government in Gauteng. 
Today we pause to celebrate the inalienable Human Rights of all our people. On this day we commemorate the Sharpeville Massacre, where South Africans in pursuit of the basic rights and respect that should be afforded to all citizens, were instead killed by a callous, brutal government.
Never again can we allow that people’s rights are trampled by a callous government.
Our rights-based democracy requires that we protect every other person’s rights. That way, all of our rights are protected in an interlocking and reinforcing web of mutual protection.
Each of our 57 million people is guaranteed the same rights and the same protection from suffering and abuse.
But it is those who are often unable to claim these rights for themselves – the very young, the very old, the poor, the frail, the sick and the disabled – to whom we owe our protection as a society.
The 144 mental healthcare patients who lost their lives under exceptionally cruel circumstances in the Esidimeni Life tragedy were counting on others to look out for them. They were entitled to the same human rights as all of us, and they were told that their government had this covered.
We all know today they were lied to. Shipped off to ill-prepared, underfunded and understaffed facilities, they were simply left to die.
Aaron Motsoaledi has said that the death of these patients is a crime reminiscent of apartheid. He is right.
This week’s arbitration report by former deputy chief justice Dikgang Moseneke, in which he awarded R1.2 million to each of the claimants, is a welcome step towards justice in this issue. But there is no closure yet.
For as long as the individuals who were responsible for this crime against some of Gauteng’s most vulnerable citizens remain in their jobs and not in a courtroom, the families of the victims will never have full closure.
And we know exactly who these individuals are. The Moseneke Report goes into great detail setting out the roles of former health MEC Qedani Mahlangu, former Department of Health HOD Dr Barney Selebano and former Director of Mental Health Dr Makgabo Manamela in this tragedy.
There must be accountability for these people. They should not be appearing in fun-walks next to President Ramaphosa. They should be in prison.
Judge Moseneke states very clearly in his report that the ball is now in SAPS’s court to investigate speedily and institute the necessary criminal charges. This is the only way true justice will be served.
The total amount awarded exceeds R200 million, if you include the cost of a monument which the Gauteng government has been ordered to erect. While no amount of money can possibly compensate for the loss of loved ones, this is a vast improvement on the paltry R200,000 originally offered by the Gauteng provincial government.
But when only the public are made to pay for the crimes of those in government, this amount could be a million or a billion and it would make no difference to the perpetrators. True justice involves accountability. And this means personal repercussions for the guilty parties.
The very first step should be to fire the guilty from their jobs in government. Ideally they would have done the right thing and stepped down, but if we have learnt one thing from this ANC government it’s that shame and remorse very seldom guide their actions.
Following this, there must be some kind of personal, symbolic contribution to the awarded amount from their own pockets. That’s what accountability would look like.
But these three people are not the only ones who must face consequences. As the Premier of this Province rightly pointed out, the buck ultimately stops with him.
In Premier Makhura’s own words: “As the head of government in the province I have taken full responsibility and accountability for this tragic loss of life of our fellow citizens. I cannot pass the buck. I am the premier of this province. The buck stops with me.”
But what do those words actually mean? Surely “full responsibility” means an acceptance of any consequences. And in this case, where 144 innocent people lost their lives and dozens more are still unaccounted for, anyone who accepts full responsibility cannot remain in their job.
This is why the DA has called for a Motion of No Confidence in Premier Makhura. If he can’t do the honourable thing and resign, then the members of the Gauteng legislature must do it for him.
This is the ANC in Gauteng’s opportunity to show that “full responsibility” means just that. Because the families of the Esidimeni victims deserve a lot better than empty platitudes from those who brought about this tragedy.
Fellow South Africans,
Part of the purpose of Human Rights Day is for us to avoid repeating history. To look back on the terrible injustices of the past and to remind ourselves of our important responsibility to ensure that these injustices never, ever happen again.
Our country has a painful history, and we should be more aware and more protective than most of our precious Human Rights. That’s what makes the Esidimeni tragedy so painful to accept.
We have been through way too much, and we should have learnt our lessons about the sanctity of life and a government’s role in protecting it. It is shameful that this was allowed to happen at the hands of government in our modern-day democracy. We now owe it to everyone who lost a loved one in this tragedy to ensure that justice is done, and done swiftly.
Rights are not subject to majority whims. Some powerful people don’t have more rights than any other people simply because they are in power. That’s not how rights work. Everyone is equally protected, and we all must devote ourselves to the protection of others’ rights.
We must recommit ourselves to protecting the rights of those who are the most vulnerable: The rights of people living with albinism are trampled upon daily. The rights of children learning in horrendous circumstances. The rights of the women who earn far less than their male counterparts. The rights of the elderly made to queue for hours for basic healthcare. The rights of all South Africans to safety, living in a dangerously violent country.
Thank you.

The values of Helen Suzman will light our way forward

Every day, as I approach my office from the stairwell on the second floor of the Marks Building in Parliament, the first thing I see is a life-sized portrait of Helen Suzman hanging on the wall of the small foyer outside my office.
From this position she has a view down almost 100m of Marks Building corridor, and bears witness to a sizeable portion of the DA Caucus’s comings and goings.
Even from way down the corridor, you know it’s her. There’s no mistaking that formidable look that broke the spirit of many a National Party MP in the National Assembly.
In the portrait, there’s a hint of a smile on her face, but only enough to reassure you that she’s a kind person. Everything else about her – the upright posture, the elegant wardrobe, the neat hair and the determined look in her eye – tell you she means business.
It’s a beautiful representation of a woman who was at once fierce and gentle, combative and generous.
She may have passed on more than eight years ago but, much like her painting outside my office, her presence lives on in all we do as a party and in everything we stand for.
Every value we call our own in the DA can be traced back to the principles Helen fought for over her 36 year-long career as a Member of Parliament. Simple justice, equal opportunity and human rights – what she called “the indispensable elements in a democratic society”.
She never compromised on these principles. Year after year, decade after decade, she was as steady and dependable as a compass. And she was unashamedly liberal. In her words:
“I am proud to acknowledge that I am liberal who adheres to old-fashioned liberal values such as the rule of law, universal franchise, free elections, a free press, free association, guaranteed civil rights and an independent judiciary.”
And I am proud to say that these very same values still form the foundation of the DA today.
Much has been written about the fact that, for the first 13 years that the Progressive Party served in Parliament, Helen was the party’s only MP – a lone voice of opposition to the juggernaut of the National Party government.
But for six of these years she was also the only woman in Parliament. And she was Jewish. This made her a triple target for vindictive attacks by her many opponents.
The insults and abuse hurled at her every day by members of the House – blatantly chauvinist, racist and anti-Semitic utterances – were meant to throw her off her stride. They were meant to intimidate her into silence.
Had they been aimed at anyone else, this might have worked. But against Helen Suzman they had the opposite effect. They strengthened her resolve and made her more determined to fight for what she knew was right.
And although she detested all forms of bullying she didn’t consider herself a victim either, as she would explain in her own words:
“I am provocative, and I admit this. It isn’t as if I’m only on the receiving end, a poor, frail little creature. I can be thoroughly nasty when I get going, and I don’t pull my punches.”
Helen was feisty and undaunted and she would give as good as she got, although her retorts never sunk to the level of those attacking her. Instead she applied her razor sharp wit to rattle and disarm her bullies.
All 400 Members of our current Parliament would do well to study the way Helen conducted herself in the House. Her quiet and calm interactions were far more devastating to her opponents than any amount of shouting, heckling and violence.
But more than her demeanour in Parliament, we could all learn an immense amount from the values that drove her to do her outstanding work.
She was not a grandstander. She was not an egocentric politician eager to cut ribbons and hog the cameras. She was not driven by personal ambition and she had no interest in the trappings of wealth and power that have cast such a dark shadow over our political landscape today.
No, Helen Suzman was a true servant of the people. For her, representing voters in Parliament meant one thing only: an opportunity to make a difference in society.
Being an MP – even if she was the only dissenting voice in a sea of Apartheid defenders – meant she had a platform to express her views. A platform protected by a Westminster parliamentary system, much to the dismay of her enemies.
As an MP she also had access to people and places ordinary South Africans couldn’t reach. This saw her return over and over to prisons where political prisoners were kept, or townships where the brutality of the Apartheid government was meted out far away from the world’s cameras.
And when she would go to Robben Island and meet with the political prisoners there, it was not merely to visit them. She went there to fight for them. Because she understood that her job as an MP was to defend the vulnerable from the powerful.
She was free, but they were not. And to her this meant that she had a responsibility to help fight for their freedom.
Much has also been said about her “go see for yourself” approach, which drove her to find the truth rather than rely on the word of others. But she did more than simply see. She also listened. To her it was absolutely vital to hear people and understand their point of view.
Driven by her desire for justice, equality and human rights, she fought every day for millions who had no other political representation in the country’s legislature.
She fought the Sabotage Act, the Terrorism Act, the 90-Day Detention Law. She opposed the Group Areas Act and the Mixed Marriages Act. She fought for the rights of prisoners who had no one else to turn to, personally replying to hundreds of their letters.
And she asked questions in Parliament. Up to 200 a year. Questions about pass law arrests, questions about forced removals, questions about prison conditions, questions about riot police brutality.
She asked questions that left the ruling party deeply embarrassed and incredibly angry. She knew this was her power over them.
At the time she received high praise from individuals involved in the struggle. Albert Luthuli famously wrote to her in 1963 with the words: “Forever remember you are a bright star in a dark chamber,” also adding that “posterity will hold you in high esteem”.
Nelson Mandela described her visits to Robben Island in his biography, Long Walk to Freedom with these words:
“Mrs. Suzman was one of the few, if not the only, Member of Parliament who took an interest in the plight of political prisoners. It was an odd and wonderful sight to see this courageous woman peering into our cells and strolling around our courtyard. She was the first and only woman ever to grace our cells.”
The respect she earned from struggle figures for her principled stance against the injustice of Apartheid was heartfelt and unconditional.
Today her footprints are everywhere in the DA. She left behind a dogged determination in the pursuit of goals and the driving of issues.
She taught us to focus on what needs to be achieved, and not get distracted by sideshows. She showed us the virtue of sticking to your principles.
These principles left her no choice but to leave the racial equivocating United Party in 1959. The same principles got her through 13 long years alone in the old National Assembly.
She imprinted on this party the values that guided her through almost four decades of service to her country as an MP.
Values like Simple Justice, where everyone stands equal before the law – whether you are an ordinary citizen or the President of the country.
Values like Equal Opportunities, where your path in life is not determined by the circumstances of your birth or the colour of your skin.
Values like the protection and advancement of Human Rights for all.
Values like the pursuit of a truly non-racial South Africa, guarded by the Constitution and by the Rule of Law.
It is an immense honour for me to pay tribute to Helen Suzman as we celebrate what would have been her hundredth birthday.
She shares this centenary year with OR Tambo, and given the dominant binary narrative about the struggle for democracy in South Africa, it is not so surprising that her significant contribution to our democracy has been largely overshadowed by celebration of his life.
But this only means that we must actively and constantly keep her legacy alive. We must not allow her story to become faded with time and airbrushed from history.
The painting of Helen hanging outside my office almost met this fate. Commissioned and paid for by her friends and colleagues in 1989, it hung here in Parliament until the mid-90s when it was taken down by the ANC and locked away in a store room.
Several years later it was rescued by my predecessor, Tony Leon, and brought back to the Marks Building – initially to the DP caucus room which was named in her honour, and ultimately to its current location outside the office of the Leader.
I find her presence there comforting. She connects us to our history, and she reminds us that we can be stronger and more impactful than we often think.
And I’m sure that, if we could ask her today, she’d say that the best way to honour her memory would not be a year of celebrations and platitudes, but rather a determined focus to finish the job she started.
And that’s precisely what we intend to do.
But to do so, we will need to take a leaf from Helen Suzman’s book. We will need to fight every day, like she did, for the people who have no one else looking out for them.
The 30 million South Africans living below the poverty line.
The 9.4 million South Africans who cannot find work.
Our job is not to sit in Parliament and fight only for people who think like us, speak like us or look like us. Our job is to defend the vulnerable – the people who are not yet free.
Our job is to articulate a vision of South Africa where the excluded and the marginalised know they have a future worth fighting for.
The survival of our country will depend on our ability to do this job.
Thank you.

Human rights need to be the guiding principle of our international relations

Note to editors: The following speech was delivered in Parliament today by the DA’s Shadow Minister of International Relations and Co-operation, Stevens Mokgalapa MP, during the Budget Vote on International Relations and Co-operation.
Today, as we mark the 54th anniversary of the AU, we salute the founding fathers and visionary leaders of the African continent. Happy Africa Day.
Agenda 2063 contains the blueprint for a paradigm shift in Africa’s future that aims to create an environment of inclusive economic growth and sustainable development. It strives for an integrated continent with shared values, good governance, democracy, rule of law, justice and a peaceful and secure Africa.
We want to acknowledge and commend the hard work done by the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) and African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) programmes that seek to facilitate Africa’s renewal and reshape its future. Unfortunately, the current crop of leaders are working hard to reverse the noble deeds of our forefathers and in the process, are tainting the legacy of our continent. Africa is still ravaged by civil wars, conflict, underdevelopment, unemployment, power-obsessed dictators, undemocratic regimes, human rights abuses and corruption.
The current global environment is volatile, as the rise of populist, nationalistic and extremist movements are posing a threat to global security and undermines international order, which brings fear and mistrust among people and states.
This trend has led to many states adopting a narrow nationalistic approach as opposed to globalisation to foreign policy. For example, the presidential election in the USA and BREXIT.
This trend is compounded by growing expectations and disappointments, as well as demographic shifts and migration.
All of this leads to a scramble for scarce resources due to jobless economic growth which contribute to unemployment and poverty. National interests become the focal centre of a state’s approach to foreign policy. States are pursuing a zero-sum game through a narrow nationalistic focus in trying to outsmart each other for the maximum benefit of attracting Foreign Direct Investment (FDI).
Globalisation and urbanization are a twin reality which must be managed by states, as non-state actors are intensifying their role and involvement in the foreign policy space.
Chairperson, allow me to address you on some of the Department’s programmes:
Programme 1: We are concerned about the ill-discipline of the staff and urge the Minister to take steps against the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) immediately.
Programme 2: International Relations addresses the core business of the Department with a budget of R3.6 billion. This programme still remains a source of concern with 126 missions abroad in 107 countries and 160 resident in South Africa. This is unsustainable and hurtful to the fiscus under the current economic conditions.
It is prudent under these circumstances to follow the National Development Plan (NDP) and National Treasury’s advice to consider rationalization of our missions and to cut expenditure on foreign infrastructure projects.
It is also important to consider the reduction of maintenance costs on foreign leased properties, as over 1000 properties are leased at a cost of R575 million.
Economic diplomacy is still lagging behind the number of high level visits and bilateral commissions still yield little in terms of value for money. We need quality outcomes, not quantity in number of visits. This requires a concerted effort in skilling and equipping our diplomats as economic diplomats to market and sell our country abroad.
Our current crop of diplomatic cadets are a shame as they serve personal interests rather than public interests.
Some are criminals, others are dishonest by faking their academic credentials.
We need more vigorous vetting processes to ensure that these cadets are beyond reproach and are people of integrity, ready to serve with pride, dedication and patriotism.
This is the reason why the DA supports the finalization of the Foreign Service Bill to professionalise and regulate our foreign service and eliminate the dumping ground syndrome.
Programme 3: This provides an opportunity for South Africa to play a meaningful role and take leadership in global politics by influencing the multilateral agenda through its constitutional values.
However, South Africa is failing dismally in multilateral forums when it comes to promoting our constitutional values and principles and championing human rights. This is evident from our failed withdrawal from the International Criminal Court (ICC) and our relationship with dictators like Mugabe, al-Bashir, Nkurunziza and Kabila.
We cannot afford to be quiet when opposition leaders are persecuted and on fabricated charges as is the case in Zambia with Hakainde Hichilema. That is why DA leader, Mmusi Maimane, will attend the treason trial of Mr Hichilema in Zambia tomorrow to offer him our full support.
We must also use our chairmanship of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) to address this serious issue. In a seemingly democratic country like Zambia, the intimidation and suppression of opposition parties should be strongly condemned.
Programme 4: On public diplomacy, we are happy to see an increase in the allocation to this programme. We would like to see this programme provide early warning systems on major international events and we suggest organising a national dialogue on South African foreign policy and national interests to ensure participatory diplomacy of non-state actors and civil society in foreign policy matters.
Programme 5: We need to evaluate our participation and commitment to international membership. We also need to ensure that we respect and uphold our constitutional values in the global arena.
The DA is concerned about the recurring and serial adverse audit opinions. For three consecutive years, the Department has received a qualified opinion. This raises serious concerns in the Department and we hope that these issues will be addressed urgently.
We have abandoned our moral high ground to stoop low to a slippery slope. If South Africa is to realise its vision of a better South Africa in a better Africa and a better world, we must shape up and be counted or ship out and lose all credibility in the global arena.
We must be vocal and speak out against wrongdoings and also be bold to challenge our allies when they do wrong. The days of failed quiet diplomacy are over. We need to redeem ourselves by ensuring that our voting patterns in the multilateral forums are consistent with our values.
In conclusion, Chairperson, the DA foreign policy is centred on three key pillars of constitutionalism, human rights and economic diplomacy. Under the DA government, we will not roll out a red carpet to dictators and mass murderers. We will respect international law and institutions, we will speak out against wrongdoings, we will ensure our diplomats are well trained in economic diplomacy and are assessed on what value they add to FDI.
Human rights will be the guiding principle in our international relations as we aim to promote intra Africa trade and prioritise regional integration and trade. In 2019, South Africans can choose more racial nationalism, populism and division on the basis of race, or we can choose progress towards an open opportunity society for all. Our country’s national interest consensus will be defined clearly and pursued in all our international relations for the benefit of the people and not only the connected elite.
I thank you.

Public should be properly consulted on the feasibility of a “Single Human Rights Body”

The DA will today write to the Speaker of the National Assembly, Baleka Mbete, to have the closing date for written submissions on the “Feasibility of the Establishment of a Single Human Rights Body” extended.
The call for written submissions was first advertised on 14 May, yet the closing date for submissions is 25 May.
Parliament appointed an ad hoc committee, chaired by the late Kader Asmal, in 2006 to undertake a Review of Chapter Nine and Associated Institutions and was presented with a report a year later.
Astonishingly, the Office on Institutions Supporting Democracy (OISD), a unit located in the Office of the Speaker, has now given the public less than two weeks to provide submissions on the process to examine the feasibility of the proposed “single body”.
The institutions affected by this proposal, created by Chapter 9 of the Constitution, include the South African Human Rights Commission, the Commission for Gender Equality, the Pan South African Language Board, and others.
In 2009, Kader Asmal called the failure of Parliament to debate the committee’s report “an appalling scandal”. Now the OISD is engineering another appalling scandal by allowing the public a mere nine working days to weigh in on the process.
As recently as 2 March 2017, I repeated the DA’s call for the establishment of a parliamentary committee to receive and process reports completed by Chapter 9 institutions. Weeks earlier, I had enquired about reports by Chapter 9 institutions which had not been tabled. The Speaker assured me, in writing, that all reports had been tabled, yet no fewer than three SAHRC reports were tabled a week later, one of which dated back to 2014.
The DA welcomes the long-overdue consideration of the findings and the recommendations of the Kader Asmal Report. However, we object to the seeming haste with which the OISD wants to complete public participation. Indeed, we feel that the establishment of a parliamentary committee to receive and process reports completed by Chapter 9 institutions should be prioritised while this process is allowed to run its course.

We will never stop defending Human Rights

Note to Editors: The following remarks were delivered by the DA Leader at a commemoration of Human Rights Day and the Sharpeville Massacre. The Leader was joined by DA Gauteng Provincial Leader, John Moodey, DA National Spokesperson, Refiloe Ntsekhe, Tshwane Mayor, Solly Msimanga, Johannesburg Mayor, Herman Mashaba, and Midvaal Mayor, Bongani Baloyi, as well as survivors of the Sharpeville Massacre, as well as family members of the victims of the Esidimeni tragedy.
Today we think back to dark days when the people of this country were oppressed and impoverished by the dehumanizing system of colonialism, and then Apartheid.
Colonialism and Apartheid stripped South Africans of their dignity. Slavery, forced labour, displacement, violent subjugation, racial classification with its humiliating tests, making people think they were inferior because of the colour of their skin, industrialised exploitation — these things are all, and much else besides, the legacy of those systems of repression and exploitation. 
Now there are some people who believe that this was the price of development and infrastructure.
Well, if this was the price of development, then I say that this price was too high.
Development that is forced upon a country under threat of violence is not human progress. Development achieved by free exchange with the global community, harnessing the best of human ingenuity and fostering a unity of purpose – that is the development we desire.
Because, as a party that stands for individual freedom, we can never condone any aspect of oppression.
The DA will never stop defending human rights, at home or abroad. Oppression has no place in the world we live in.
We will continue to build bridges to unite South Africans, bringing them together when everyone else is seeking to divide them. Madiba dreamed of a country united around a common South African identity, where South Africa would truly belong to all who live in it, both black and white.
We are now the only party that still believes in and works for this vision. The ANC has long abandoned it, they too seek to divide us against each other. They may have abandoned it, but we never will. It is the only sure way to shared prosperity for our country.
We will continue to hold the ANC to account for shielding dictators like Al Bashir.
We will continue to condemn human rights abuses wherever they are committed, whether it is in Zimbabwe, Western Sahara, Sudan, Russia, Syria or anywhere else.
We will continue to fight for the human rights of South Africans here at home, when they are harassed and met with violence from their own government, as they were in Marikana; or when the vulnerable are neglected and left to die, as the “Esidimeni” patients were.
We will stand against the new wave of populists on the right and the left. From Marine Le Pen to Nicolas Maduro. From Donald Trump to Robert Mugabe. From Geert Wilders to Viktor Orban.
Here, at home, we will stand up against those who justify majority tyranny or express sympathy for those systems. Just as we stand up against those who are nostalgic for minority rule.
The painful legacy of colonialism and apartheid is still with us today, and still impacts the way that most South Africans live: cut off from economic opportunity, geographically dislocated and badly educated. These South Africans have been let down by a corrupt ANC government that is more concerned with helping itself and its cronies, than with fixing the inequities of apartheid.
We will continue building a social compact based on non-racialism and reconciliation.
We will continue to stand up for a strong Constitution that protects everybody’s rights.
We will continue to develop new policies that empower South Africans to rise above their circumstances of their birth and build a better future for their families.
We are focusing on expanding opportunities for every child to get the education they need to compete in the global knowledge economy of the 21st century.
We are focusing on skills development for young people, including internships, apprenticeships and vocational training.
And we are looking at ways to grow the economy so that more young people can begin meaningful careers in their chosen fields.
Above all, we are focused on the project of defeating the ANC so that every South African may one day be truly free.
The ANC has become the corrupt and ignoble parasite we were warned against. The ANC cannot be salvaged, it cannot self-correct, it must be defeated at the ballot box.
We will not be derailed by those who put their own interests before the project.
We will not be distracted by sideshows.
We will not be divided.
Together, we will build a non-racial society based on freedom, fairness and opportunity for all.
Ke a leboga. Thank you.

ANC has failed to uphold human rights

Note to editors: The following speech was delivered in Parliament today by the DA’s Shadow Minister of International Relations and Co-operation, Stevens Mokgalapa MP, during the debate on Xenophobia.
Thank you Madam Speaker,
The Democratic Alliance condemns any act of xenophobia, along with any form of discrimination.
We support South Africa’s role as a continental leader and stakeholder, and believe that legal immigration can contribute to economic growth, skills development and job creation.
We also believe that the problem of foreign nationals residing in South Africa illegally should be addressed, but in a manner that respects the fundamental human rights and dignity of those immigrants.
The African Union’s Agenda 2063 envisions a prosperous Africa with inclusive economic growth and sustainable development. It envisions an integrated continent, a continent that is politically united. It envisions an Africa of good governance, democracy, respect for human rights, justice and the rule of law.
Madam Speaker, our Constitution shares these values and principles. It is stated in the preamble to the Constitution that South Africa belongs to all who live in it. This is an important feature of our Constitution, rightly enshrined in the Bill of Rights.
However, the significant question we have to ask ourselves is this: does the actions of today’s government show that they believe that South Africa truly belongs to all who live in it?
The recent increase of violence against foreign nationals implores us to reflect on this question, and I am afraid that the answer to this question is a resounding NO.
Recent events have clearly shown that South Africa’s foreign relations policy falls short of achieving Afro-optimism and Pan-Africanism.
Our government remains reactive, rather than proactive, in addressing the underlying causes of the growing hostility towards foreigners.
One of the key issues in the hostility towards foreigners is that the ANC government is failing horribly in their mandate to provide jobs for 8.9 million unemployed South Africans and particularly for the lost generation, the millions of young people who have been abandoned by the ANC government.
Madam Speaker, inefficient practices at the Department of Home Affairs is compounding the problem of illegal immigration, as many foreigners wishing to enter the country legally are faced with almost insurmountable bureaucracy.
In many ways, Home Affairs creates illegal immigrants through their own inefficiency. It is also a fact that our borders are too porous, and the government believes that the establishment of a Border Management Authority will solve this problem.
This is yet another example of the ANC trying to legislate their way out of a problem, rather than fixing the existing mechanisms. Not only is the current proposal unconstitutional, it is highly impractical and will only lead to a waste of state funds.
Xenophobia is irrational and immoral and should be rejected by each and every South African. Mutual co-existence and individual legal freedom of movement should be protected as enshrined in our Constitution.
It is worrying that we have a President that only last week said, and I quote, that “we appeal to our people not to allow the actions of a few criminals to turn them against their brothers and sisters who are here legally.”
The President should know that his words carry weight, and that his statement could easily be interpreted as a tactic go –ahead for violent attacks against foreigners who are here illegally. This simply cannot stand.
Madam Speaker, it is becoming increasingly clear that there is a massive gap between what the ANC states their foreign policy should be, and what it actually is. For example, by ignoring a high court order to arrest Sudanese President, Omar al-Bashir, and by unconstitutionally withdrawing from the International Criminal Court (ICC), the ANC government has not supported a human rights based foreign policy.
It is now becoming clear that the ANC also does not respect the promotion of human rights nationally.
As the DA, we implore all South Africans to do what the government has failed to do, and that is show a sense of solidarity to and respect for the dignity of our fellow African brothers and sisters. Xenophobic violence is never acceptable.