Parliamentary address by the UDM President t in an extended public committee debate: Presidency Vote (11 June 2008)

Madam Speaker, honourable President, honourable Ministers and honourable Members

The UDM supports the budget vote.

The current escalation of prices in food, fuel including paraffin, electricity and interest rates will undermine all the initiatives undertaken since 1994 to uplift the poorest of the poor. Your office and Cabinet therefore need to devise strategies to salvage the country from this unfolding crisis. For instance, when the former Minister of Minerals and Energy, Penuell Maduna, sold our oil reserves he rebuffed concerns with the statement that we need not worry because the world is awash with oil. Today those reserves could have been used to intervene on behalf of South Africans.

Equally so, it would be in the interest of our people to review the instruments used by the Reserve Bank under Governor Mboweni. Instead of using inflation as the overwhelming measurement, he should rather include factors such as unemployment too. This way we can halt this practice of beating consumers and the economy over the head with high interest rates for imported inflation. Indeed if these monetary instruments are not reviewed it will hit hard the majority of the citizens who have for decades been locked out of the economic mainstream. Yes, in other countries you have an interest rate dispensation that protects those who invest in property, because shelter is a basic human right.

In all likelihood, honourable President, this will be the last budget vote that you present to Parliament. My observation is not based on the calls from some of your colleagues to step down, but on the constitutional reality that your term will expire early next year.

This country has to thank you for the job you have done, and in particular the institutions you have put in place. I'm thinking specifically of the manner in which you have placed South Africa on the map of the continent and the world. However this recent spate of violent xenophobic attacks has done much damage to our image. Whilst the architects of this violence are yet to be exposed, one might be tempted to think that it was a campaign designed to slap you in the face and undermine your legacy on the continent.

There is no doubt that the big debate on the future of the continent will continue despite the recent setback. Perhaps the next phase which SADC countries should consider is moving towards a form of federal governance for the region in order to integrate economic, social and security policy. Such closer cooperation will unlock the vast economic and human resources of the region and benefit all its citizens. This would be in line with the current plans to allow the free movement of citizens of the SADC community.

During your term of office it is a pity that some of your colleagues entrusted with delivery could not live up to the legitimate expectations of the nation.

We see now that some of them are masquerading all over, trying to portray failures and unpopular decisions as belonging to the President only, whilst the public knows that these have been the ANC's collective decisions. This does not address the inherent problems in the Tripartite's thinking and policies and therefore when these newly recycled leaders come into power nothing will change. They should stop misleading the nation by claiming differently.

Indeed, you sir, and your party leader, Jacob Zuma have jointly written to the City Press that the policy positions adopted by the ANC at the Polokwane Conference, I quote, "do not represent a qualitative break", close quote, with past party positions. So who's fooling who?

Despite all of this, there is in no doubt that that the country is crying out for constructive change. This highlights once more the need for the National Convention that I have suggested in this House before, especially to debate issues of the economy as well as social cohesion, as the President Mbeki has suggested in this House last year. The idea of this Convention should not be confined to Members of Parliament only and should include other stakeholders outside this House. Perhaps Madam Speaker and the President should approach the Commission for Human Rights to facilitate such a National Convention. Time is against us.

I thank you.

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