Address by the (UDM President at a UDM Rally at the Magxaki Hall in Port Elizabeth: Welcoming 675 new members from the ANC (24 September 2008)
Ladies and Gentlemen
Welcome, and thank you for attending. I've been invited by the local UDM structures to address you today on Heritage Day. It is important that we regularly take time, like we are doing today, to remember where we come from and reflect on our history, culture and traditions. It is equally important that we continuously make use of these opportunities to consider how we can preserve our heritage.
Heritage had for many decades and centuries been a central aspect of oppression. Whilst one group's heritage was elevated those of everybody else were ignored or even actively undermined. Today, now that we are free and equal and living in a constitutional democracy, it is necessary for us to reclaim our heritage; but it is also necessary to do it in way that does not repeat the mistakes of the past. Heritage should no longer be about exclusion.
We must celebrate our heritage and celebrate the rich diversity of our country. This is one of the founding principles of the UDM: that as a country we are rich in our diversity, and that our diversity is a resource that can make us one of the leading nations in the world.
Such a rich diverse heritage requires maintenance. Therefore we need to ask whether we are training enough people to man social research institutions. Do we have enough history teachers and librarians? Today there is talk, particularly in this province, of establishing a liberation route. Obviously, if this route is well-planned, due to rich the Struggle history of this region, it could serve as a trigger to turn this area into a tourism Mecca. It is well known that this province played a meaningful role in the Struggle, but do people here know about the tourism potential? Are we teaching our children about their heritage?
I would encourage the UDM members in this region to participate in community projects, and to participate in debates about the role of local people in the Struggle.
I'm visiting at a time when the IEC has declared there will elections in the next few months. Right now the most important thing you can do is to ensure that you are registered as a voter and that you encourage others to register for the elections. I know that among many voters, especially those who have voted ANC in the past, there is a sense of despondency and apathy. It is sad when an organisation with such a proud history, that is a custodian of the democratic Constitution, is ripped in two by infighting. But we want to reach out to those disappointed ANC supporters and tell them: There is hope!
The woes of the ruling party do not spell the end of democracy or the programme to create a better life for all South Africans. The failure of the ANC is not the failure of the democratic project. There are parties, such as the UDM, who remain committed to the new South Africa and to building on the foundations of freedom that were laid in 1994.
Our manifesto will come soon. And I can tell you now already what to expect. One of the central themes will be how we will continue as we have been, to defend the institutions of the democratic state that the ANC has been attacking for the past two years. The National Prosecuting Authority, the Constitutional Court, the Scorpions, the Office of the President, the judiciary in general, and many others have been under constant attack from factions within the Tripartite Alliance. They have been devaluing these vital institutions of the democratic state and the UDM will continue to defend those institutions. Our manifesto will focus on this because it seems there is a very serious threat against these institutions. No matter how many other promises are made in election manifestoes in the coming months - and the promises will flow now - they mean nothing if the institutions of state are unstable.
Which brings me to the current political turmoil. We have children telling their elders what to do and usurping power; people who have not been voted into Parliament have deposed a Head of State. The UDM holds no brief for Mbeki, but we need to say no to political destabilisation and the disregard for constitutional imperatives. The rules are clear when a ruling party is dissatisfied with a President; it is defined in the Constitution. The ANC's kangaroo court disregarded all those and a result they created a great deal of unnecessary confusion and uncertainty among people.
The UDM is asking for people to vote for us in the next election, so that we have the mandate to change the electoral system and enable South Africans to directly elect their President as well as introduce constituencies into the PR system. The UDM commits to implementing both of these electoral reforms in order make politicians more accountable to the voters. South Africans know that they can trust us; we told you on floor-crossing that it was bad legislation and, indeed, we fought that all the way to the Constitutional Court. Today after years of campaigning we've succeeded in having it abolished.
So, we are not new in defending the Constitution and democratic institutions. It is this culture of the UDM to protect constitutional institutions that led to us in the beginning of this year again vehemently opposing the ANC's attempt to disband the Scorpions.
This political barbarity has led to the instability we see today. We have a sitting President being replaced in favour of a person who is facing a string of corruption and fraud charges. These Johnny-come-lately revolutionaries who didn't fight for anything are threatening to undo what many people have fought and died for. We are becoming the laughing stock of the world to accommodate one man's rise to power.
Today I also have the pleasure to welcome 675 new members into the UDM who have left the ANC. Welcome comrades!
Your decision to publicly join us today is good news for the UDM. You bring with you years of experience and activism. This area is well known for political activism over the past decade. It is worth noting that many of you are leaders in your own right, having organised and led ANC branches in this region. We hope that you will fit in swiftly in your new political home and help us to spread the message of hope, that the UDM is the answer. The democratic project is still alive and well!
We know with your background that you have been in the vanguard of the Struggle, especially because this city is known to have produced many activists who have faced the Apartheid onslaught head-on.
The struggle we are talking about today is different; it is a struggle to defend the gains of our freedom, including defending the democratic institutions that are under threat. We understand that South Africans need certain things from their Government:
In this province in particular people will often feel like they have no provincial government, because of the people that were appointed to lead the provincial government have no ability to deliver services. The people of this province can call government to account in the next elections. You are able to change the face of the South African political landscape, and usher in a political landscape underpinned by politicians accounting to the voters, not ruling party personalities or factions.
South Africans need to ask themselves if we can afford a one-party state.
Lastly, your timing in joining the UDM is perfect, because the ANC has become so certain of their own power, that they have become an inward-looking organisation, trying to ferret out the so-called undesirables. But that exercise is affecting service delivery so we are glad that you have left that mess.
I thank you.
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