Note to editors: The following speech was made by Makashule Gana MP, during the DA’s gathering for national reconciliation at Constitution Hill this morning.
My friends and fellow South Africans,
We have come together here at Constitution Hill this morning to remind our fellow South Africans, our brothers and sisters from Africa, as well as those from the rest of the world, that South Africa is built on respect for the human rights of others, and that each and every person in this country has the right to life.
We have gathered here today to express our deepest regret over events in Gauteng and Kwazulu-Natal over the past two weeks, where foreign nationals were brutally attacked and murdered right under our eyes, and the eyes of the world.
Just two days ago, our nation was shocked by front page photos of the senseless murder of Emanuel Sithole – a Mozambican national who came to South Africa in search of a better life.
Since 1994 South Africa has been known as the country of human rights. We became the beacon of hope as the world watched us reconcile our people and build a better future.
We became a place of new beginnings, a refuge from war and persecution – a safe haven for those who have been displaced by famine and war.
Under the late president Nelson Mandela our nation embarked on a historical mission of a united, transformed South Africa, where everybody who lives in it enjoys freedom and prosperity.
We built a nation which prided itself on our respect for our common humanity, and we welcomed our brothers and sisters from Africa with open arms, and shared those ideals with them.
But yet, as we South Africans lived for and spoke about transformation, we failed to transform our society.
Real transformation is about more people getting out of poverty and having the opportunity to live out their individual freedoms.
Real transformation is about giving people living in our townships to find jobs, to start up their own businesses, and to improve their quality of life.
Sadly, that has not happened.
Sadly, the majority of our country’s people are living in hopeless despair, because our townships have not entered the mainstream economy, and life has not become better.
And while our communities view others and their perceived success with suspicion, the question we have to ask is why our townships are still marginalised, and why small businesses have not been developed.
We have to ask why our government has done so little to promote small business development, why there is so much red tape, and why it continues to support job-killing programmes such as e-tolls.
We have to ask what happened to the Township Revitalisation Plan in Gauteng and the R160 million promised for it late last year.
Where are the Economic Incubators and Development Hubs that were supposed to be the game-changers in job creation?
Why has government neglected to support and maintain Gauteng’s Township Industrial Parks, which are run down, lack basic infrastructure, security and cleansing services, and are severely over-crowded?
We have to ask why the only ones who seem to get ahead are those with known political ties, while the rest of us struggle to survive.
President Jacob Zuma announced that government would set aside more than R1 billion to create 100 black industrialists in the manufacturing sector. The questions we have to ask are who those 100 individuals would be, what their ties to the ANC are, and how many real jobs they would create.
Just imagine how many small businesses could have been financed with that R1 billion, and how many jobs that would have created.
In the preamble of our Constitution it says that: “South Africa belongs to all who live in it, united in our diversity”.
It is our Constitutional duty to stand up and commit ourselves to building a South African society based on democratic values, social justice and fundamental human rights for everyone – irrespective of where they are from.
Starting here, today, in front of the building where the custodians of our Constitution go about their business, we have to commit to spreading this message of unity in diversity to our fellow countrymen.
We have to remind each and every South African that we do not tolerate xenophobia, we do not condone the unprecedented violation of people’s fundamental human rights, and we do not discriminate against others because of where they are from.
It begins with me and you, and our declaration that we will not be part of these barbaric acts.
And we must spread this message to our wives, girlfriends, boyfriends, makwapheni, neighbours and brothers not to engage in xenophobic attacks.
We cannot be held ransom by people who commit acts of xenophobia. Let’s isolate these criminals who are doing these acts in our name.
We call on the SAPS Crime Intelligence and State Security services to leave no stone unturned to identify those who are spreading messages of hate in our communities, and to arrest and prosecute them.
We must all do our parts to assist the police in arresting the perpetrators of xenophobic attacks.
We must commit today to addressing instead the economic conditions that fuel the anger in our communities, and to pursue a society based on greater opportunity for all, backed by a capable state.
We are one people, brothers and sisters, all from one continent.
Speech by Makashule Gana