“We have to stop the Zuma nightmare‚ and begin to dream again‚” businessman Sipho Pityana said on Wednesday as he delivered a call for South African citizens to pressure President Jacob Zuma to step down.
Here are extracts from his speech as he delivered what he called “the Real State of the Nation Address” at St George’s Cathedral‚ in Cape Town.
Pityana urged the Speaker of the House in Parliament to not address President Zuma as “honourable” when she invites him to present his State of the Nation Address tomorrow night.
“…He shouldn’t be addressing us as a nation in the capacity of a President‚ for he has broken his contractual relationship with us as citizens.
“Instead‚ Parliament should be telling us when it intends to hold him to account following the Constitutional Court judgment on the Secure in Comfort Report” relating to use of taxpayer funds on his private homestead at Nkandla.
He criticised the president’s promises to the country in previous addresses to parliament‚ and even said Zuma should take some of the blame for a spike in racism.
“In President Zuma‚ we have a wounded tiger‚ unleashed by its handlers to sow mayhem and destruction‚ at great cost to both our nation and the ANC as he spends this year seeking to regain lost ground. He’ll be dishing out a long list of scapegoats for his litany of failures. This‚ as a prelude to his ill-conceived‚ yet destructive actions that he is set to take this year.
“…Don’t bother promising us a radical agenda to include black people in the economy. Rather tell us what programme you embarked upon‚ in your eight years as the President of our nation‚ to effect this. What progress have you made? What new steps do you intend to advance this important objective?
“Evidence suggests that despite a mandate‚ from both the Constitution and the party you lead‚ you not only failed in this regard‚ but you set back the promising positive steps of your predecessors in Presidents Mandela and Mbeki. We can say‚ without fear of contradiction‚ that the period 2002-2007 saw the fastest growth in the black middle class‚ an economy that was beginning to reduce unemployment‚ an unprecedented economic growth of over 4.5%‚ a systematic reduction in poverty‚ a stable debt to GDP ratio‚ controlled inflation‚ a healthy balance of payment. We had a black economic empowerment strategy that saw the emergence of shining examples of new black business.
“Yet‚ under your leadership‚ President Zuma‚ all these gains have been reversed. Look at your mess…
“The same applies with land restitution‚ redistribution and security of tenure. You have had a clear mandate from the Constitution and your party for years. But over the last eight years you have failed to address this. Please don’t invite us to your altar of fools by promising to do better? All you have to offer us now‚ is the word ‘radical’.
“…And then there is the scourge of racism. Over the past few years‚ racists have become emboldened in their offensive rhetoric and violent behavior — because you‚ who is supposed to be our leader‚ are incapable of convincing the nation of the efficacy of non-racialism. Racial chauvinists who‚ without a word of reprimand from you‚ eschew anti-Indian‚ anti-Coloured and sometimes even anti-white sentiments — find comfort in your inner circle‚ and pretend to speak on behalf of an ANC that has long disavowed all forms of racism.
“There can be no doubt that the realisation of social cohesion requires the redress of the condition of Africans as the most marginalised. It is also the case that racial chauvinism‚ a close cousin of tribalism‚ is dividing our nation and setting us back many years under your watch.
“Our young people are desperate‚ disillusioned and disappointed as your repeated promises of employment are not delivered on. Youth unemployment has worsened since you assumed office. The black school system has seen nothing of your promised improvement. Your false promise of free education is threatening to destroy the great asset we have in our universities.”
Pityana also lambasted the president for his response to the deaths of psychiatric patients in the Gauteng government system.
“While the entire nation is in mourning over the ‘Silent 94’‚ in shock over the way the Esidimeni issue has been handled‚ Zuma has nothing to offer but a cold media statement.
“A real President would be visibly consoling the nation‚ addressing the needs of the families‚ and showing compassion. A real President would order that national flags be flown at half-mast and call a national day of mourning as we grieve over this devastating indictment on our nation’s health care‚ and the neglect of the most vulnerable.
“It’s not too late to do so Mr President.
“The blemish of Esidimeni‚ like the Marikana massacre‚ only shows how little the lives of the poor and vulnerable matter to you. We need a leader who knows to put them first.”
Pityana further tackled the way state funds are being spent.
“Money intended for social services like education‚ health and social development is being stolen by some politicians‚ public servants‚ and service providers‚” he said.
“The grip of state capture rips the soul out of state-owned companies‚ encourages gross financial mismanagement‚ and promotes unfettered looting. It is getting even tighter as Zuma and his cronies line up the biggest tender-grab ever: the nuclear energy deal‚ which best epitomises the current phase of state capture.
“We have to stop this. We have to harness our collective energy‚ as ordinary South Africans‚ as members of organisations‚ and as people with influence‚ before it is too late.”
As the Save South Africa campaign‚ he said‚ “We must all do whatever we can to make sure that tomorrow is the last State of the Nation Address by President Zuma”.
“We have to say: ‘No more Zuma’.
“We need more active citizenry. We need you to join others and get involved. Convene as Save SA group wherever you are and use the reach information on our website to understand our programme and bring as many citizens together to work for change. Sign our People’s Motion of No Confidence. Lobby your MP or public representative to say no to Zuma.
“We have to stop the Zuma nightmare‚ and begin to dream again.
“We must be very firm in ensuring that the democratic project stays on course. We must use our energies to continue to drive Zuma out‚ but also to drive change beyond that. We must continue to build a society founded on social justice‚ human dignity‚ equality and democratic principles.
“We must loudly reject looting‚ theft‚ corruption‚ the abuse of power‚ the contamination of state institutions‚ the distortion of the justice system for political gain‚ and the complete disrespect for our Constitution.
“… And we must hold our leaders accountable whoever they are.
“Only then will we be able to Save South Africa.”