Speech by Mr Bantu Holomisa, MP at the Congregation of the Christian Centre (UDM President) (14 April 2009, Mthatha)

Ladies and Gentlemen

I would like to thank the church leadership for inviting various political leaders to address this congregation on the future of the nation.

As far as I'm concerned, you are not wrong in extending such an invitation.

People forget quickly; it was the churches and religious groups in this country that decided to face the might of Apartheid. To stand up and speak out, even in the face of teargas and bullets.

The religious groups together with the rest of the population in South Africa, brought the Apartheid regime to its knees. Indeed, the religious leaders intervened in the political arena when they realised their flocks were suffering. They realised that to wait for the military wings of the liberation movements to change things would mean waiting for another century, because the old regime had a First World arsenal.

Have we forgotten that people like Bishop Tutu and many others were the ones leading marches and attacking the injustices and corruption of Apartheid?

The truth of the matter is that after liberation the religious groups were either sidelined or they took a backseat. Previously, they would address the complaints that were common under Apartheid such as poverty, oppression, violation of basic human rights and the need for equality before the law.

The religious groups lowered their guard and in the meanwhile thugs and criminals have hijacked the Struggle.

That is why today people have come realise that the Struggle agenda has been usurped and is no longer guided by the religious groups and political stalwarts of the liberation movements.

It was within a period of 10 years when we began to see the signs of corruption emerging. At the same time we also saw how policies that had worked were dismantled. Take for instance Tracor, maintenance units for roads, agricultural subsidies as well as textile subsidies; these had created and sustained thousands of jobs, but were cancelled by the new rulers. Some of the existing work was outsourced to small new companies.

Thousands upon thousands of people lost their jobs and livelihoods.

Why would a nation that has so much poverty give away such opportunities?

And then we began to read almost every day that the contracts were being given to certain people connected to the ruling elite. After more than a decade of sustained revelations of corruption and fraud many people are asking: "Who in the ruling elite is not corrupt?"

Revelations and allegations have implicated Premiers, MECs, MPLs and Councillors. Investigations into corruption have engulfed politicians from the lowest municipal offices up to the Presidency.

Those who were ousted for corruption went away to regroup and develop a counter-strategy; they returned with a new tune, namely that those in power were part of a conspiracy.

Who has forgotten what the common denominator was for both Zuma and Mbeki to not finish their terms in office? All the turmoil and infighting relates to the Arms Deal corruption and who got what.

In their vicious reaction that crew has attacked everything and everybody, including the judiciary and the Constitutional Court. Even when religious people spoke up they were vilified.

You and your congregation have an opportunity in these elections to draw a line under this messy affair. The abuse of power must be reined in.

How on earth can you believe this crowd when they say they will address poverty, crime and corruption? Will it not be the same old rhetoric? Can you trust them?

In conclusion, I believe that the traditional institutions, religious groups and elected government, must be working together. So that the winner at the end is not the leader of a political leader but the poorest of the poor, who are beginning to lose hope about where their salvation will come from.

It is for this reason that the UDM is calling for Government to do more, to create jobs and fight poverty, as other countries in the developed and developing world are doing. It is a call that you will surely endorse because every day you are receiving people at your church who are feeling hopeless in the face of poverty.

Thank you for giving us and other political leaders this platform; you are taxpayers too and you can't be held captive and forced to hear only the views of one political party.

In order for the democratic project to grow and thrive you need to participate, but never compromise your principles.

Corruption is corruption.

Stealing taxpayer money is theft.

Such crimes must be decided before a judge in a court of law, not in press conferences by officials without mandates and spies with agendas.

I thank you.

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