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Johannesburg - Imagine a South Africa in which citizens are free from oppression and exploitation, crime and corruption, and have access to quality education and healthcare.
Agang SA leader Mamphela Ramphele reckons this is the best way to honour the legacy of Steve Biko, who was killed by the apartheid security police 36 years ago on Thursday.
“We pledge to build a united and democratic South Africa in which we can all finally realise true freedom for all. Freedom from poverty, crime and corruption. A job, a home, a life of dignity,” Ramphele said on Thursday.
She was addressing residents of Mthatha in the Eastern Cape.
Ramphele’s visit coincided with reports that the healthcare system in the Eastern Cape was teetering on the brink of collapse.
She seized the moment to accuse the ANC-led government of incompetence in addressing such ills.
She asked: “What, indeed, is the meaning of freedom if you can’t get life-saving HIV/Aids medication because of someone else’s negligence and incompetence?
“What would Steve Biko think of this betrayal of the ideals that he and many other heroes of the Struggle died for? Why, indeed, do our people still have to suffer and live like forgotten people almost 20 years since liberation?”
She blamed the collapsing healthcare system on corruption, which she said was a betrayal of the ideals of Biko and many other freedom icons “who believed in the principle of governing through the principle of ubuntu, which is the highest expression of caring.
“The incompetence and ‘don’t care’ attitude displayed by the Eastern Cape Health Department… is a glaring example of the betrayal of our Struggle that this government has become notorious for…
“Unless we deal decisively with corruption, we can forever say goodbye to the promise of freedom in our lifetime - human dignity, equality and freedom.”
Ramphele recently came under attack, notably from the ANC, after she disclosed she had assets worth about R53 million.
On Thursday, she used the opportunity to explain again why she did so and to repeat her challenge to President Jacob Zuma to do likewise.
“We have to ensure that we ourselves are not corruptible. That is why it’s important that all public representatives declare their assets to the public and explain how they achieved their wealth.
“Surely, he (Zuma) understands that people are keen to know how he earned the money he said was used to build his R270m palace, including a cattle kraal for more than a million rand.”
By disclosing his financial status, Ramphele said, Zuma would be playing his part in demonstrating that the government was committed to rooting out corruption.
This, she said, was the best way to honour the likes of Biko who had sacrificed their lives for freedom.
“He (Biko) died because he dreamt dangerous dreams. He dreamt of an alternative society, a society in which all people were equal, one in which millions of black people were not treated as inferior or sub-human, (but) as full human beings, with an equal chance in life.”
She called for a change in government, saying the ANC had failed after nearly 20 years to deliver on the promise of freedom that so many had fought and died for.
“Our country has reached a crossroads. We need change now.”