Speech by COPE President Mosiuoa Lekota at the launch of his party's manifesto, Saturday, 28 May 2016
FELLOW COMRADES AND SOUTH AFRICANS
Once more I stand in front of you. This time, however, it is with mixed feelings. As you know, Congress of the People has not currently been participating in parliament. We heeded the voice of our conscience and we therefore decided to oppose what we see going on in government around us. We will keep re-evaluating our situation in this regard and will make the necessary adjustments to our position as circumstances and clarity evolve.
Where we all had great hope in 1994, we hold a lot of anxiety and disappointment today. The future that was once so bright is now full of uncertainty. You and I and all South Africans will have to stand together in unity if we are to save our country. Only as a united force can the people make a difference. The politics of the ruling party is rotten to the core.
Today, as I present our 2016 Local Government Manifesto to you, I ask you to take note of the power it offers to you. Real freedom is having the power to be genuinely free. If you have no power, your freedom is worth nothing.
The Freedom Charter laid down a requirement that the people shall govern. All people. And not just a small elite. This showed the wisdom of the leaders of that time. To change everything that needs to be changed in South Africa, people must enjoy the power to make important decisions. People-involvement is the key to a safe, secure and prosperous society for all South Africans.
We need to go forward with a new sense of purpose and determination. By now we understand very well that local government has to be the point of service delivery. But we also know that local government has failed to deliver on its mandate. Many of us are suffering where we live because local government has failed us and our communities very, very badly.
To bring about meaningful change and an improvement in local government service delivery, one thing will have to be done. The present electoral system will need to change. Only then will citizens have a greater say in who is elected to power. Only then will those who are elected truly represent the needs of the people. We will need to be enabled to take back our power. Only with power can we bring about meaningful change. We will all need to be co- participants in this process of re-empowering our people.
Our involvement and participation is required to achieve real success. If we believe that any political party will deliver exactly what we want, we will be running on the spot. Everything after the election will be precisely as it was before. Only when we take action to keep power in our hands will our future be ours to guarantee. Let’s use our power to make local government work the way we want it to work.
Over the past few months Congress of the People has crisscrossed South Africa to meet our fellow citizens in our cities, towns and rural areas. What you told us is now in our manifesto. What you also told us is that many people want Congress of the People to help save South Africa. Our people need hope and a leadership you can believe in and trust.
The time for change is here. We must bring that change about. We must ardently search for honesty, integrity and humility in our politics. We need to identify leaders with vision and a deep commitment to our Constitution. Nothing else will help.
Our Constitution is the glue that holds the nation together and helps us fight corruption and the abuse of power by those who wield power. There are 11 million children in South Africa who are experiencing severe poverty. Youth and adults are also experiencing poverty. With passion and joint effort, we can fight the evil forces in politics and make our politics clean, accountable, responsive and healthy once again.
That the people must, and should govern was declared in the freedom charter and the achievement of this ideal is still very evident to us. You have to come forward to create the people power that will make local government work for the people. COPE wishes to extend a non-sectarian invitation to all citizens to build local governments and beyond that a country for the people.
Congress of the People defines democracy as a government of the people, by the people, for the people, and most importantly, with the people. You will notice how heavily Congress of the People is emphasizing people power and working in genuine partnership, united in our diversity and without consideration to race, colour, ethnic or social origin, sex, religion or language.
What are the 2016 local government elections about? They are about repairing broken trust and making 100% certain that morality and integrity will prevail in local government specifically; but also, in Government in general.
I say to you today that Congress of the People wants political leaders who are incorruptible. Is there any other party setting a standard as high as this? Others are saying they will fight corruption. How do you fight corruption with leaders who are already deeply corrupt?
Incorruptibility is not too high a standard to set in politics. It is a basic requirement and the foundation of true democracy. There must be no possibility for corruption. No room must exist for state capture at the expense of the people.
The hyenas have entered our politics in a big way and they are gnawing on the bones of our society.
It is the responsibility of all of us to stand together to save South Africa. We need to show solidarity in our struggle to cleanse our politics. It has been said that a fish rots from the head down. As a result of the corruption at the head of government, the rot is fast spreading in every direction. It is filtering down not only from Central Government into Local Government but also into business. If this continues there will be only one loser: us, the people.
When people are stripped of power, frustration turns to anger and that is why events in Vuwani happened. Anger, when continually ignored, turns to blind rage. The people of Sekhukhune, Bushbuckridge and numerous other places have no drinking water, no electricity, no housing and all of this boils over when people remain powerless to correct their own situations. There are people in Kuruman and many other parts of the country who go to bed without anything to eat. There are many people in Diepsloot who have simply lost all hope.
When people give away their political power they sacrifice their future. If we hold onto our political power and work out how to get maximum value for our votes, our situation could be very different.
Just as we seek to get the best value for our rand, so should we seek to get maximum value for our votes. As the demand for votes gets more intense the value of votes should, and must rise.
To see a better life for ourselves and our children, we have to take destiny in our hands now. We do not have another 22 years to wait. We, the people must decide how government plans, budgets and accounts; and very importantly, how government governs.
If we as South Africans, want a better future, we will have to build it with our own hands and our own sweat. There are no guardian angels we can rely on. The power is ours. We must take it and use this power. We must not protest when we can call the shots. People who protest are those who give their political power away by voting for empty promises. If we plan what we want with our votes, it will never turn into a fruitless exercise or become an empty promise.
If we want economic growth, jobs, clinics, roads and a clean environment, we must do much more than make a cross and hope for the best. Congress of the People offers harder work for greater rewards. It is a path with higher participation which requires us to stay involved in order to reap the fruits of increased prosperity for our country.
It is better to keep political power than to give it away and then, out of frustration, resort to burning the infrastructure that we need.
Those who are wise, succeed. Those who are not, get taken for a ride. Furthermore, they will remain powerless and without the dignity they deserve.
Congress of the People offers participatory politics. We do not want or need fans who stand on the side line waiting for us to deliver on their behalf. Imagine a beehive. In a beehive, the queen lives to ensure the continued existence of the hive. The bees collect food for everybody. Together they make the honey that sustains all the bees.
Congress of the People says that if you want some honey, be involved in making that honey. This is why CONGRESS OF THE PEOPLE is the better alternative for everyone in South Africa.
We are not supermen and superwomen. We cannot do on our own what we know has to be done collectively and together. We need people of every colour; black, brown, white and all shades in between, to co-operate in creating a fair and just society where everything works. We need collective action to achieve peace, security and stability for all. If we are divided, or walk our separate roads, chaos will overtake us.
This is, frighteningly, what will happen if we stay on the path that we are currently on.
Social Democracy has been the most successful experiment in politics in the last 70 years. Scandanavian society is a living example of this. These governments can afford to be proactive whilst most governments, including our own, tend to be reactive. They look forward. Others look backward. Social Democracy is the vehicle to carry us towards a greater future.
I repeat our definition of democracy: a government of the people, by the people, for the people, with the people. The Freedom Charter promised that “the people shall govern”. We as a people can do so pursuing the processes that Social Democracy will offer.
Many of you will have noted how passionately Congress of the People defends the Constitution and the rights that it enshrines. We do so because the Constitution guarantees that each one of us is equal before the law. However, when communities surrender their power, it is individuals in the political parties alone who become powerful. Then these same individuals and the political parties they control, abuse that power, live like kings and queens and become a law unto themselves. They hold the people hostage.
If we want to be respected, we have to enforce the letter and spirit of the Constitution.
The local government election in August 2016 offers you and me an opportunity to make things better for ourselves, for our communities and for all South Africa.
Congress of the People (COPE) is a party that will continue to uphold the Constitution and the rule of law with full commitment. We will not stray from the Constitution. For us the Constitution is the supreme and inviolable law of the country. We interpret the Constitution to be in favour of the people. We also recognize that the Constitution is our only guarantee that politicians should remain accountable and transparent.
Voting for the Congress of the People will empower us and all those who share in our commitment to the constitution. Those who are corrupt are not of us and we are certainly not of them. Our voice will remain strong and valid for the full duration of the five years that a council is in existence.
So Let us take hands to SAVE SOUTH AFRICA.
Let us guarantee that THE PEOPLE SHALL GOVERN
We state this upfront. Only when the people begin to govern, will the resources of the nation go to the people and not to the politicians, and their families and their friends as has been happening.
The power is ours. Wealth belongs to us all, the people. Our votes must secure what our power should get for us and the nation’s wealth should serve the nation. Each and every citizen in it!
We undertake to promote and create a powerful and lasting partnership with our people in all municipalities where we have leadership. We are committed to empowering the people so that we can create the energy and force to make service delivery happen.
Only people who participate actively and meaningfully in the decision making process are willing to own the outcome.
Let me now deal with specifics.
EDUCATION IS THE BEST WEAPON TO ERADICATE POVERTY AND CRIME
Education will be priority number one in all COPE run municipalities. Longer term we want to improve working conditions in the schools and review salaries to ensure that they reflect the importance of this role in building a skilled and educated nation where unemployment and skills shortages are minimised.
COPE will set a benchmark for computer literacy for teachers and empower teachers for e-learning.
COPE will make sure that all necessary resources are mobilised so that our schools function smoothly and without disruption.
COPE councillors will be very actively involved in the life of our schools
COPE will make sure that our teachers are in class, teaching
COPE councillors will give special attention to assist the smooth running of universities that are located in a given city.CHALLENGES FOR OUR YOUTH
COPE will tackle the unacceptable unemployment crisis facing our youth. It is a fact that youth in the age group 24 – 35 are worse off than their parents. How can that be? This situation can’t continue any longer. We commit to tackle it head on in the towns and cities we govern.
We acknowledge the power of the youth. COPE will create regular youth forums where our young people will be empowered as active citizens to voice their opinions and share their concerns and ideas with councillors and decision makers in government and business. We will turn every town and city COPE governs into an economic HUB. Every person should be given an opportunity to work and to be involved in business. COPE will ensure that every township will have a factory style workshop where artisans can hire space, tools, power and buy materials to become economically active.
Such community workshops will attract artisans, young people wanting to learn skills and those in the towns and cities who want something made, or something repaired or something altered. Lack of space, lack of tools and lack of opportunity should not be a problem for those who want to work and put food on the table for their families. As access to market for people is improved, the tax base will be broadened and this will, in turn, enable us to increasingly provide better infrastructure, opportunities and social services.
Crime is an evil that must be attacked by everybody from all quarters. In a COPE run municipality, residents will be encouraged to actively take part in the police forum and have active street and block committees. All farming communities will be supported to organize protection units and to have an effective communication system with the police and with the municipal authorities.
COPE will therefore ensure that local government will -
• encourage the establishment of community police forums or strengthen those that already exist;
• maximize the role of community policing forums and neighborhood watch groups;
• destroy crime dens, clean up overgrown open spaces and provide adequate street lighting;
• with other spheres of government, and private sector partners, improve the economic conditions of the poor through enhanced economic activity;
• implement technological solutions for the better and constantly monitor crime infested areas;
• promote the emergence of integrated, non-racial and cohesive communities through the sharing of knowledge, information, responsibilities and resources so that such communities can better combat crime in their respective localities;
• establish monitored municipal police in all municipalities to ensure by-laws are uniformly and non-selectively enforced and to combat crime in collaboration with other law enforcement agencies; and
• organize a monthly public forum with stakeholders to analyze crime statistics and incidences.
Looking forward into the future, COPE acknowledges that police personnel and Law Enforcement officers are subjected to dangerous working conditions for very little reward and we undertake as part of a longer term national strategy to, similarly to teachers and nurses, review both working conditions and salaries for those who fill these roles in order to attract better qualified candidates to vacant posts and bolster capability.
WATER & SANITATION SERVICES
South Africa faces a water crisis which will deepen over the years, and is unlikely to ever go away. If there is no rain, there will be no water. On the other hand, where water is available, incompetence denies people water in their taps. Municipalities must employ people who are capable, competent and suitably qualified to ensure that supply, given limiting constraints, is maximised.
COPE will ensure that our dams and water infrastructure are properly managed. All citizens have a right to clean drinking water. They also have a right to see an end to the hated bucket system. We will work with communities to take the water and sanitation issue forward.
The eradication of the bucket system will be a priority for us.
SUPPORTING A BETTER APPROACH TO DWELLINGS
A roof over the head of each and every citizen is non-negotiable. Living in shacks is the worst form of humiliation for any human being.
COPE will fight to ensure that local government has a greater say in determining the quality, sizes and manner in which government funded houses are built. COPE will allow the intended beneficiaries of RDP houses to actively contribute their ideas and to provide whatever additional support and money they can so that a better and bigger house can materialize to meet a family’s housing needs.
We also want houses that are fully fire proof. The technology is already available and it is affordable.
COPE will accelerate access to housing through greater involvement of our people with the responsible government departments. When government and people work together and join their resources and labour, new and innovative housing solutions will be found.
COPE will ensure a reliable electricity supply and will look at affordable, renewable and sustainable solutions such as water and wind power.
COPE is a GREEN PARTY with a very strong commitment to the environment.
COPE will be actively involved in monitoring residential areas to control overcrowding to prevent the outbreak of fires, increased incidences of flooding and increased health hazards.
COPE will ensure that all informal settlement areas receive proper professional planning attention at once. This will enable people to improve their dwellings as their circumstances improve and thereby make it possible for an informal settlement area to become increasingly formal over time.
NEW SPATIAL PLANNING FOR OUR CITIES, TOWNS & RURAL AREAS
After 22 years in the new South Africa, we are still as divided as ever. This is unacceptable. It is also dangerous. We can no longer allow the old apartheid townships to continue as before. The more things were meant to have changed, the more they have remained the same. Congress of the People is committed to bring work closer to the people. We need integration, not segregation.
Congress of the People will not tolerate the status quo. We want to ensure -
· new planning that will allow for residential and economic needs to be better met in one locality;
· that long term people-centred planning takes place within all COPE governed municipalities;
· pot-holes, overflowing sewer manholes, poorly lit streets, and houses built dangerously close to one another will receive immediate attention.
COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT IN BUDGETTING
COPE undertakes to do something that no other party will dare to contemplate. We will strive to introduce a new model for budgeting which involves the following steps -
1. Community members identify spending priorities and select budget delegates;
2. Budget delegates develop specific spending proposals for each ward, with help from experts;
3. Community members vote on which proposals to fund;
4. Municipalities implement the most supported and rational proposals.
For Congress of the People, it is unacceptable that we live in a land of plenty but where inequality is the greatest in the whole world. We can no longer be so divided. We can no longer be so unequal.
MUNICIPAL DEVELOPMENT AND TRADING COMPANIES (MDTC)
Congress of the People believes that every rand that can be spared in every town and city should be invested monthly in a Municipal Development & Trading Company. Money funds projects. More money will mean more projects and therefore more jobs.
If the people of a town or city work together, save together, invest together and create a development and trading company together, they will become more self-reliant.
Job creation comes from investments. If every town has its own development and trading company, government and the private sector can also put money into it and make the people’s company even bigger and more successful. We need a healthy business climate in every town and city and we need people’s involvement in business. In the business of Government and the business of Business. Then we spread the nation’s wealth more equally to all who should rightfully share in it.
Free enterprise, where all people are free to share in the wealth of the nation and the rewards are determined by the effort the individual puts into the collective, must rule. Capitalism, where traditionally wealth is spread amongst a small group of powerful and often corrupt entities, should be replaced by an economic system that has the look and feel of socialism. Instead of the prosperity of the individual, we must have the prosperity of the community and our country at heart. To enjoy the fruits of business, communities must invest money, sweat and ideas.
Congress of the People will actively promote the formation of municipal based development and trading companies (MDTC) in each locality where we have control. Each municipality will encourage city or town dwellers to invest in the MDTC using their mobile phones and easy outlets. It will be as easy as buying a Lotto ticket. Also, instead of Zama Zama, we offer the opportunity for ownership and work so that through the dignity of labour people can secure their future.
With the capital that is accumulated from all the citizens in the city who can invest, whatever they can invest, the MDTC can with other partners fund infrastructure projects, promote and support entrepreneurship, create profits for all the people who invested in the MDTC and support local social security programmes in each area.
But first, everyone must participate in the baking of a big cake and then, we can each consider having a slice of that cake.
COPE is not simply looking for votes in local government for the sake of immediate but limited powers. The 2016 Local Elections are just the beginning of a much longer term approach to the future of our country. These are just the first step in a longer term strategic journey which sees COPE taking a key role in building the kind of society we all dreamed of at the birth of Democracy in 1994. A country envisioned in the founding principles of the Freedom Charter. A society in which there is a recognition that the stability and prosperity of a country is built upon 3 legs; Law and Order and functional, effective and efficient Educational and Health systems. And that in order to build this kind of society we need to recognise the importance of those foot soldiers who hold the future of our nation in their hands; teachers, nurses, policemen, citizens, you!
From these things flow all others, the economy, and so issues like unemployment and poverty will improve because we will have a healthy, well-educated population and therefore a more productive economy. We will have more wealth in the hands of the people which will mean that citizens will have a vested interest in ensuring the continued prosperity of our country. This should see crime rates decrease as a result. Added together these changes will create a more politically stable environment contributing to national well-being and also increased direct investment boosting the economy.
We are proposing that the net effect of all of this will be that citizens are more empowered and those trapped in grinding poverty will have more equal opportunity to escape their situation than under the current government where wealth and power is concentrated in the hands of a corrupt ruling elite and big business. In such an environment as COPE is proposing, everyone prospers.
COPE has a vision of a future South Africa where all citizens will once again feel personal pride in their role in creating a safe, educated and healthy nation where all people, not just an elite and powerful few, have the possibility to achieve their full potential and reach the country of their dreams.
Fellow South Africans, as the first stage of that journey which we ask you to walk with us, we commit ourselves in the presence of you and all South Africans, to ensure that all COPE councillors will be reliable and incorruptible servants of the people. We commit ourselves never to tolerate any corruption. Those who dare to fail in this respect will be harshly dealt with and consequences will be dire.
We commit ourselves that our councillors will have regular meetings in those constituencies where the people voted them into power. If any of our councillors fail to do so, these lazy representatives will be summarily removed from office.
COPE pledges that all our councillors will be honest and accountable, and will be trained to be efficient and responsive
COPE pledges to eradicate corruption by promoting transparency and openness, and holding officials to account.
COPE pledges to improve healthcare, manage administration professionally, run clinics and services efficiently and work with the people, for the happiness and betterment of the people.
With us, the people shall govern. The power shall be theirs and the responsibility also. We offer to partner with you in the hard work that lies before us.
Consider your options carefully. Your vote is powerful if you make it powerful. If you give it away, your vote will have no power. And nothing will change.
Issued by COPE, 28 May 2016