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Johannesburg - Agang SA leader Mamphela Ramphele has accused ANC leaders of abusing government resources to entrench tribalism in order to remain in power.
She was speaking on Tuesday during a Heritage Day celebration at Tshikombani village near Thohoyandou in Limpopo.
“What upsets me is that there are those in the current ANC government who are so desperate to cling to power that they risk dividing us,” she said.
“Beware the state-sponsored tribalism of 100 percent Zuma, 100 percent Zulu, 100 percent Venda and 100 percent coloured,” said Ramphele.
Her statement comes a few months after former president Thabo Mbeki raised similar concerns about rising tribalism and its related dangers.
Ramphele said the ANC had lost the moral authority to govern. She suggested that the ruling party had been corrupted by power.
“These leaders seem to think that ‘it’s our turn to eat’,” said the former businesswoman.
She berated the dispensing of “patronage”, which she said benefited the lucky few from KwaZulu-Natal, President Jacob Zuma’s home province.
“For the rest, the food parcels arrive before the election, but people need to eat every day, not once every five years,” she said. “We must stand up and speak out against this narrow tribalism.”
The government was recently criticised for distributing food parcels at Tlokwe ahead of hotly contested municipal by-elections in the North West municipality.
The DA later laid a complaint with the office of Public Protector Thuli Madonsela, asking her to investigate Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini’s alleged abuse of power and wasteful expenditure.
At the time, the government denied it was using taxpayers’ money to buy votes for the ANC.
Acting government spokeswoman Phumla Williams said the distribution of food parcels at Tlokwe formed part of Project Mikondzo - a service delivery improvement initiative aimed at improving access to the social development department and its entities.
The ANC has since won two of the three wards in Tlokwe.
The ANC lost ward 26 to the party’s former councillor Bakiti “Stone” Mahlabe, who contested as an independent candidate.
On Tuesday, Ramphele said South Africans could realise “true freedom for all” by expecting more from themselves and their leaders.
“We have the power to build this future, to look back with pride at the heritage we created for our children, but the time is now,” she said.
The former academic said freedom would begin only when citizens took control and shaped their own future.
“Many young South Africans do not know what it means to be citizens of a constitutional democracy and how to exercise their rights and responsibilities
Last week, Zuma, while addressing the ANC Youth League’s 69th anniversary celebration in Polokwane, expressed concern that more than 4 million youths had not registered to vote.