Former deputy finance minister Mcebisi Jonas said Monday’s march to Parliament by civil society organisations should shape the country’s future and build a mass movement that holds public representatives accountable.
“We are gathered here to shape the future of this country. We must take it away from those who are abusing it,” Jonas said.
“We must as South Africans stand up and take our future into our hands,” he said when addressing thousands outside Parliament.
The march was calling for the ANC to recall President Jacob Zuma and that MPs should vote with their conscience.
“What must move from here is a solid movement of South Africans who care about the future of South Africa. This mobilisation must continue,” Jonas said.
“We have made a serious mistake after 1994. We demobilised our community. We mobilised society as a whole,” he added.
“That was possibly the most dangerous, historic mistake that the country made,” Jonas said.
He insisted that the movement of civil society should hold politicians and political parties accountable.
“We can’t leave accountability to the constitution only, we can’t rely on courts only. We must consolidate a mass movement that holds everyone in government accountable,” Jonas said.
He said there was a time in the history of every nation when it was faced with two choices – one choice is to submit and be happy or to fight.
“As a country we cannot submit (so) as South Africans we fought very hard to be where we are. We cannot allow our freedom to be sold so cheaply as it is being sold now.”
Bishop Zipho Siwa of the Methodist Church of Southern Africa saluted Speaker Baleka Mbete for deciding on a secret ballot.
“We want to tell Madam Mbete tomorrow is the day, tomorrow is coming,” he said.
“We speak as South Africans from all walks of life… We want to say everything must change. The people of South Africa have spoken. They must hear what we say here today.”
He said the MPs should remove Zuma who has presided over a failed government, and accused of scandal after scandal.
“Everything is in the public domain. It is clear what is in the public domain demands that the president must step aside and allow the country to move forward,” Siwa said.
He sent a stern warning to parliamentarians.
“As the people of South Africa, we will come for you,” he said.
“Do the right thing or wait for South Africans to do it for you,” he warned.
Equal Education’s Tshepo Motsepe said the civil society was on its own and called for introspection after August 8.
“We really need to think what this democracy means. We have a country that has been sold to a family that came here with nothing,” Motsepe said.
Cosatu provincial secretary Tony Ehrenreich said the labour federation was part of the march to “get that thief Zuma” out because the only people who prospered in the country were his children.
“We come today to knock on the door politely and say to the MPs: ‘Vote Zuma out’. If you don’t vote Zuma out, we will be back in our thousands,” Ehrenreich said.