En masse, Venezuelan citizens have taken to the streets in the capital city Caracas and other towns this week, mobilising against extraordinarily tough times under an increasingly authoritarian government.
Protesters are propelled by the sheer devastation of their lives: basic foodstuffs and medicines are in short supply; the economy is in crisis with triple-digit inflation; the government has turned on its people. Marches are said to be over a million-strong. The streets of Venezuela reflect an age-old wisdom: there is strength in unity. We South Africans should not wait for any further damage to be inflicted on our country; we must unite at once, to defend our freedom.
The capture of SA’s treasury three weeks ago by the Zupta mafia is a disruptive event that has put the issues of accountability and power abuse centre stage. We must use it to charter our way to a robust democracy free of ANC domination. South Africa’s future lies in coalition governments and we must seize this moment to set aside party political differences and coalesce around shared values of freedom, non-racialism and capable, accountable government. The DA is willing to work with anyone or any group that seeks to defend the constitution and safeguard our state from capture. We are committed to building a nation of opportunity and fairness in partnership with all who hold these values. The DA’s twin aims now are to build a coalition in society and to grow the DA so that we can lead a coalition government after the 2019 national elections.
This catalytic event must spur civil society to embrace its role in holding government to account. The ANC has failed to hold Jacob Zuma to account; we must not fail to hold the ANC to account. If we unite and demand accountability, South Africa will emerge from these difficult times a stronger country, able to fight our real enemies of poverty, unemployment and inequality. We must use this moment not only to rid ourselves of the Zupta mafia but to fully restore the independence of our democratic institutions and to kick-start inclusive economic growth that starts moving us forward again. The incredible unity we have seen amongst South Africans from all walks of life in the past three weeks is cause for great hope, even while we have a genuine reason to worry for the future. Solidarity is a powerful bulwark against a hostile state.
Yesterday, representatives of political formations, civil society, workers, religious organisations, and academia announced the beginning of the Freedom Movement, a movement that seeks to facilitate this growing unity amongst South Africans. It has been endorsed by most opposition parties, as well as union federation Fedusa and Solidarity. We welcome anyone who wants to end state capture. Importantly, we have the blessing and support of Archbishop Emeritus, Desmond Tutu, who provides a firm moral beacon at a time when we need it most.
The immediate aim of the Freedom Movement is to remove President Jacob Zuma from office. To this end, we want to help facilitate a large-scale peaceful protest outside Parliament when the Motion of No Confidence is debated in early May. The exact date of the debate and vote is yet to be set, pending the outcome of a Constitutional Court application by various opposition parties for a secret ballot, in order to allow ANC Members of Parliament to vote without fear of retribution.
We seek a highly visible show of moral support to those ANC MPs who may be torn between a hard-wired loyalty to their party coupled with a sense of self-preservation, on the one hand, and their genuine desire to do what is best for the country, on the other. The message is: you are not alone; you have South Africa’s support. Only together can we restore the relevance of Parliament as an institution of accountability.
The first action of the Freedom Movement will be to gather together as many South Africans as possible at Freedom Park on Freedom Day, Thursday 27 April 2017, in a visible show of unity. We must show ourselves and the world that we are one people with one future. We will not relinquish the political freedom for which so many sacrificed so much. We will not let a rogue president and parasitic private interests block our pursuit of economic freedom for all. We will stay the course to freedom and we have the stamina for the struggle. We are strong because we are together. We call on all South Africans to join our Freedom Movement because united, we stand and the Zupta mafia falls.