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Our government has failed us - Ramphele

180213. Women’s Gaol at Constitutional Hill in Johannesburg. Dr Mamphela Ramphele officially launched a new political party called Agang which means "build" in SeTswana. 948 Picture: Dumisani Sibeko

180213. Women’s Gaol at Constitutional Hill in Johannesburg. Dr Mamphela Ramphele officially launched a new political party called Agang which means "build" in SeTswana. 948 Picture: Dumisani Sibeko

Published May 28, 2013

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Cape Town - South Africa is “at a crossroads” and if it does not change course, “corruption will rob South Africa of its full potential and rob every man, woman and child of their future”, says Agang leader Mamphela Ramphele.

In a message to mark Africa Day on the 50th anniversary of the AU, Ramphele said on Monday that “rampant corruption” was “robbing citizens of the jobs they need to support our families, the schools our children need to have a future and the ability to afford everyday necessities”.

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The country’s record on accountability showed “we have veered away from the values that drove us to fight against apartheid minority rule and for change”.

“A failure of governance has allowed widespread corruption and a culture of impunity to pervade our government and our society.”

Almost 20 years since the end of apartheid, South Africa was still failing millions of its people, Ramphele said.

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“We did not fight and die so that millions of South Africans should continue to live like forgotten people.”

Only when transparency and accountability were entrenched would everyone feel they had a stake in working for economic prosperity, she said.

“Our vision for the future begins with a government that listens to the people and a government that answers to the people. It will be an accountable government that makes decisions based on what is best for all its people and future generations, not short-term gain or maintaining political power.”

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This would start with a government that lived by the founding principles of the constitution “in both words and actions every day and never betrays them”.

This was why Agang was calling for electoral reform and changes to the law to tackle corruption.

“We want to ensure that every citizen can vote for a person who will represent their local area in the national and provincial governments, and that every citizen can hold that representative accountable for their actions,” Ramphele said.

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She called for a law that would reward officials who exposed official corruption and misuse of funds.

While South Africa would continue to play a crucial role in the future of the continent, change was urgently needed at home.

She said the anniversary came at a time of renewed hope for Africa, which had overcome decades of wars and strife to achieve relative peace. This would allow it to “get on with the task of addressing its developmental challenges in order to realise its huge potential”.

The continent was enjoying one of the highest growth rates in the world, which was expected to “soar even higher given its growing attraction as an investment destination of choice”.

The dream of an African economic renaissance seemed much more realistic. But she said growth had further widened the gap between rich and poor and had not been accompanied by comparable improvements in health, education and nutrition.

Agang believed Africa could better manage its vast mineral wealth to improve the lives of all its people by setting out bold national agendas for strengthening transparency and accountability in governance.

While South Africa was also blessed with valuable natural resources and, as the last country to gain freedom and independence, had been uniquely placed to learn from the mistakes others made along the way, “events over the past years show that we have squandered that opportunity”.

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Political Bureau

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