South Africans must welcome the end of Ace Magashule’s tenure as ANC secretary-general says DA leader John Steenhuisen
GQEBERHA – DA leader John Steenhuisen has urged South Africans to welcome the end of the tenure of ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule but questioned his party’s decision to give him a 30-day period to remain in office.
Steenhuisen was speaking at his party’s Freedom Day celebrations in Gqeberha's Nelson Mandela Bay region on Tuesday.
“Today, we celebrate 27 years since our very first free and fair election as a democratic nation. Anyone who voted in that election back in 1994 can tell you exactly where they were and what they did that day. The moment was so big it made a lasting impression.
“On that day, and for many years after, millions of South Africans were filled with genuine hope for a better future. Putting a cross on that first ballot paper symbolised the freedom that so many had fought and sacrificed for.
“But I think you will agree with me that this symbolic freedom of 1994 has not yet translated, for most people, into real economic freedom. The freedom to access opportunities, the freedom to earn a decent wage, the freedom to pursue big dreams and ambitious goals, the freedom to raise your children in a better world than the one you perhaps grew up in.
“The struggle for democratic freedom may have ended in 1994, but the struggle for economic freedom is still far from won. For many, it is yet to begin,” Steenhuisen said.
He said if we are to have any chance of victory in this struggle, we would all need to agree on what we’re fighting for saying we need to agree what this freedom entails.
Steenhuisen said many members of the ruling party seem to have a different idea of what freedom is.
“Many of them consider the ongoing looting of the state their legitimate reward. The spoils of war. In two days time, the ANC secretary-general, Ace Magashule, will reach the end of his 30-day grace period before he has to step aside due to the serious corruption charges hanging over his head.
“Why he was given 30 days in the first place is not entirely clear. His position was surely just as untenable 30 days ago as it is today. But nevertheless, that deadline will have come and gone on Thursday,” Steenhuisen said.
He said what happens when this deadline arrives was as significant for the people of the country and as it is for the ANC itself.
“The truth is that people like Magashule and every other ANC cadre who has stolen from the people, cheated the tender system and advanced the interest of their friends and family, have stolen the freedom of ordinary South Africans.
“Corruption is not a victimless crime. Its victims are each and every man, woman and child whose dreams of a better life have been deferred, over and over again, because their so-called leaders can’t keep their hands off public money.
“Greed is the enemy of freedom. The bigger the greed of the ruling elite, the more unattainable the dream of freedom becomes,” Steenhuisen said.
He said the step-aside deadline wasn’t just about one corrupt man’s desperate attempts to dodge his own party’s rules saying it was a test of the commitment of this government to the freedom of the people they swore to serve.
“There may be many things wrong with our country right now, but our democracy still works fine. And this means you have all the power you need to determine your own future.
Last week the date for this year’s local government election was announced – 27 October – go and put that in your diary. Or even better, write it in big letters and stick it on your fridge. Because that is the day you get to take back control of your future,” Steenhuisen said.