Debate on the President`s State of the Nation Address by the hon member cde Nompendulo Mkhatshwa

25 June 2019

Honourable Speaker/ Chairperson of the NCOP
President of the Republic of South Africa President Cyril Ramaphosa
Deputy President of our country Honourable David Mabuza
Honourable Chief Whip of the Majority Party 
Ministers and Deputy Ministers
Honourable Members of Parliament
Distinguished Guests
Fellow South Africans

INTRODUCTION  

Today, 65 years ago, thousands of activists gathered in Kliptown to lay out a vision for a South Africa that we today inherit. The vision, aspirations and dreams of our people were documented in what became known as the Freedom Charter.  The backbone of the Constitution, which guides the work of this house.  

Comrade President as a member, who is a young black woman, I stand on the shoulders of the women who played a role in the drafting of the freedom charter, I stand on the shoulders of Ruth First, Dora Tamana, Albertina Sisulu, Beata Lipman, and others.  

Comrade President, I stand on the shoulders of the first women to form part of the first parliament of our young democracy. I can only but imagine the suffocation they endured in that boy’s choir of an executive. Today, as we young women join them on these benches, I draw strength from their resilience. In fact, I stan their resilience!  

NATION BUILDING  

Murhangeri wa tiko, it is with no doubt that under this democratic South Africa the future of the children of this nation can only get brighter. South African youth are doing amazing things in various spheres of society locally and internationally. Just look at ShoMadjozi’s recent achievement.  

However, allow me to share that, My activist colleague, Dr Sithembile Mbete shares a story of her conversation with a 9 year old girl whom when she asked “what do you want to be when you grow up” the young girl responded by saying “sizobona!”.

My fellow comrade, Ms Shaeera Kalla shares a story of her conversation with a 20-year-old young man at Rosebank Mall, whom when she asked what his dreams were the young boy responded, “I have no dreams, let me first survive tomorrow”.

MoPresidente Ramaphosa, the gloom that hovers over parts of our country is stripping young people of their right to envision, to dream and imagine - bright, healthy and meaningful lives.  The process of envisioning one’s future should not be a privilege.

Comrade President  as we continue to build our nation and design the social fabric of our society - sleepless nights we must have, unsettled by the realities of these two young people and many like them.  

Setho seHlomphehang, Mme Modise we must khawuleza for our inability to address some of the socioeconomic challenges of young people in our country will lead to a death of imagination among some young people in our country. Our inability to ensure that young people through the attainment of knowledge and skills, are active participants in our economy, will attribute to the social decay in our society. How do we build a nation when the future of the country fails to imagine their role within it?  

The key to nation building as Amilcar Cabral says, is to rid our land of every noxious influence of oppressive culture.

How is it Mr President that whilst you speak of growing South Africa through a social compact which requires contribution from various parties, through sacrifices and trade-offs, OTHERS, speak to ‘slaaning terug’... Rerug Eerbare lede? Slaan terug to what? To a time when the efforts of the masses of this country to fight for the land would bear no fruits?  

HATE CRIMES

The above mentioned privilege Mr President, is the very same privilege that underpins various hate crimes in our society.  

The ANC has promised in its manifesto, to finalize the legislation before parliament, aimed at preventing and combating hate crimes and prosecution of persons who commit those offences. In line with your call to implement, masikhawuleze mongameli!

This legislation will mean that no hate crime goes unpunished. Any abuse based on race, gender, religion, disability and albinism will be legally and decisively dealt with.  

Equally, homophobes in our society must know that their abusive behaviour towards the LGBTQIA+ will face legal consequences.  

SEXISM AND PATRIARCHY

Cde President, taking into consideration the demographics of this country, and whom the life expectancy of many is reliant on, women are very fundamental to building this nation.  

Fellow South Africans, as we build our new nation, we are guided by the preamble of our constitution that reads: ‘we aim to establish a society based on democratic values, social justice and fundamental human rights’.

Sadly, the beauty of this document is not realized by many women who can not walk the streets of South Africa in peace without being cat-called by even the police who are meant to protect them.

Gender-based violence is one of the greatest plagues of our time. Our women are not safe, our queer bodies are not safe, the night and day scares us, the city scares us, and so do lallies, public spaces, our homes, universities and schools too. Is there any space that is for us? If not, we must create that space by the sjambok which ought to be the laws that govern this country.  

Mr President, you speak to the establishment of the Gender-Based Violence and Femicide Council; and as we acknowledge the launch of the Gender-Based Violence Hearings and the Sexual Offences Court towards the end of the 5th administration.  As we work towards social connectedness and building an intersectional society, we must include the representation of  young women and gender non-conforming bodies in the structures that will lead these processes and institutions. However, we must also acknowledge Mr President that the scourge of patriarchy won't be solved by solely increasing the representation of women in an oppressive system but rather the dismantling and breaking down of any institution and societal construct that entrenches patriarchy. To quote American Iranian activist Hoda Katebi, ‘a seat at the table does not mean you are off the menu’.  

Hon. Fikile Masiko, Whip deployed by the governing party to the committee on Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities, together let us work to whip patriarchy out of this society. To whip it! Whip it real good!  

Hon. Lamola, our constitution is considered a world-leading document, we must conceptualize and design a world-leading response to gender-based violence. As per our manifesto, we must capacitate and equip the police and the court system to support survivors of gender-based violence and sexual assault.  

POLICE VIOLENCE and FMF

And so Mr President, as we increase the visibility of police we must ensure that our people do not live in fear of our police nor are they triggered by police.

Our police must not assimilating the intolerance of the apartheid police when overseeing protests nor must they regurgitate sexual harassment towards victims entering police stations.

Hon. Cele appreciating the contribution to youth employment through training 5000 young people into the police; we must ensure that we harness a blooming police force whose actions will resonate with a democratic South Africa through programmes like Conflict Negotiation, Mediation and Resolution Training and Rehabilitation programmes.

Core to the student protests of 2015/2016 was nation building. Our generation reminded society that you cannot build a nation whilst others are left behind academically and economically. Out of that came great strides in the sector of higher education, however, consequence of our call for free quality and decolonized education, talented young South Africans like Kanya Cekeshe find themselves behind bars; others charged, expelled, suspended, emotionally scarred and politically despondent.  

Comrade President, the unconditional release of Kanya and all others must be prioritized by your administration. We call for your presidential pardon!  

AFROPHOBIA (THROUGH TOURISM)

Comrade President our new world-class visa regime for tourists coming from the rest of the continent must be commended and enhanced as a tool to address afrophobia through increased intra-African travel.  

The best academic minds on the continent must collaborate with our academics at Venda, Wits and all our institutions. Our children must go to the great kingdoms of Mali and Ghana to learn our majestic and glorious history; and young African learners must come here to learn our history. Furthermore, African countries that have draconian laws and attitudes towards the LGBTQIA+ community must know that South Africa will provide a home for these individuals.  

LANGUAGE

Madam Speaker, we need to finalize the legislation on language in our schools. African languages must be taught in schools, they must be institutionalized; more importantly, we need to create societal value of our languages. As the Vice-Chancellor of UCT Prof Phakeng says “In South Africa, someone can speak 9 official languages and still be deemed illiterate and not fit for employment”.

Comrade President, we create value in our languages by ensuring public servants must learn them, in Mdantsane doctors must be able to diagnose a patient in isiXhosa, teachers must be able to teach foundational topics in mathematics in more than one language.

SOCIETY and 4IR

Fellow South Africans, our world is changing, technologies of the 4th industrial revolution have the potential to be great equalizers of our time, however, they may also drive the greatest concentration of wealth and deepen inequity

How do we protect against the worst type of human behaviour, cyberbullying, fake identities, bot tweeting, the behaviour that is so rampant in our digital space.

Fellow South Africans, as we work to build our nation in this 4IR, we must ensure that the 4IR does not happen to us but that we inform how it unfolds in our country.  

In the 4IR we must consider the kind of society we want to build, we must conscientize society about biased algorithms and how they can be used to entrench the inequity gap.

CONCLUSION

Allow me to lobby you mongameli to use our education system as niche to achieve what you intend to achieve in building a national democratic society.

I heard my good friend Nomangxongo Sixishe at the PreSONA Debate with Youth quote me in saying, we must use schools to propagate and harness a special type of South African that will grow to be charged with the desire to drive out all these isms that burden our society. Racism! Sexism! Classism!  

Thomas Sankara’s implores citizens to become active agents in the transformation of their society instead of remaining spectators. With that in mind, Mr President, led by you, Fellow South Africans, artists, leaders of faith based organisations, traditional leaders, civil society, civil servants, maAfrika, let us grow south africa together.  

MasiSheshe, siGeze, si-Implimentor! You have set the line of march mongameli, we are lobbied and we commit ourselves to executing it.  

I thank you.

Homepage Image: