Wednesday, 26 February 2014

South Africa: the future is in your hands

Good morning, gooi more, sawubona, dumelang.

South Africa is a great country. It has enormous human and natural resources. Properly nurtured, they have the potential to make us a winning nation. This year, on the eve of celebrating 20 years of democracy, we need to remind ourselves of that more than ever.

But our future, the future we have built together, is threatened. The people governing us have captured the state for their own gain. They have subjugated it beneath the needs of their narrow party interests. Mounting corruption, jobs for pals and poor service delivery are all around us. They are dampening the national mood and creating a sense of anxiety among our people. The Rainbow Nation that brightened our lives in 1994 is turning a dull grey. Our unity as a nation is disintegrating.

I believe our future would be much brighter under a DA-led government. Lindiwe Mazibuko, in her speech during the Heritage Day Debate in Parliament last August, spoke of South Africa’s shared heritage as a unifying force. The four forms of greeting I used just now, show this shared heritage is founded on diversity of language and culture.

Diversity, along with delivery, redress and reconciliation, make up the DA’s brand promise. We need to strive harder to achieve them if we are to reach the goal of unity we all dream of. One thing’s for sure: the ANC’s race-based approach will surely divide us, not unite us.

The DA’s vision is founded on respect for the rule of law, liberty and an open opportunity society for all. In such a society the state creates the conditions for individuals and communities to explore their talents, and improve their material well being. All South Africans can identify with this vision.

Our challenge, as citizens of this country, is to actively play a part in shaping this future. Not just sit on the side-lines, but occupy the battlefield where decisions get made.

In London’s Hyde Park, in July 2008, Nelson Mandela told the 50 000 people gathered there to celebrate his 90th birthday, that the future was in their hands. He was right – it is up to us to take responsibility, for ourselves, our communities, our nation.

I had the good fortune to attend an event recently which gave me hope that more and more South Africans are doing just that. It was the inaugural TEDx in Alexandra. For those not familiar with it, TEDx is a forum begun in the US 30 years ago, for leading thinkers and activists to air new ideas. Local communities franchise the forum and stage their own events. In Alex, speaker after speaker expressed their visions with passion. But they did not stop there – they spoke about what they were doing to turn their vision into reality.

Like the school principal who, after getting involved in the Partnerships for Possibility programme, boosted parent attendance at school meetings from 50 to 400 in just a few months. For him, parental involvement in their children's’ schooling is the solution to our education crisis.

Or the young businessman who left a lucrative career in banking in New York to return to South Africa to found a business incubator. By the end of this month he expects to have 500 start-ups under his wing. In two years, 20 000! For this young man, developing small enterprises will help solve our unemployment crisis.

These are just two examples of young people deciding to make a difference to THEIR future. Multiplied by the thousand, we can see South Africa turning the corner. Government can only do so much. All of us have a role to play, however small. What are you doing to secure YOUR future and the future of those dear to you?

That Sunday morning in Alex, September 1st, was the first day of spring. To use that refreshing-sounding Xhosa word, the ‘umthombo’ of all our hopes and dreams was pouring forth. A feeling of hope put smiles on all our faces. How wonderful if the whole country could drink from its heady waters!

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