'We are in a parlous state': SA foundations, including Thabo Mbeki Foundation, call for national dialogue to unite the nation

Published Jun 27, 2024


The Thabo Mbeki Foundation, in joint efforts with other foundations (mainly those founded by struggle heroes), including the Ahmed Kathrada, Steve Biko, Robert Sobukwe and Oliver Tambo foundations, through a national dialogue are calling for South Africans to unite to address matters affecting the nation.

“We, the Foundations that are signatories hereto; founded on the legacies of eminent South African freedom fighters, whose values and example laid the foundation for building a non-racial, non-sexist, egalitarian, and democratic society, call upon the people of South Africa to join in a National Dialogue to reorientate the direction of our nation,” they said.

The organisations stressed how the call was important during a media briefing held in Johannesburg on Thursday.

Reading out the statement on behalf of the foundations, Nkosinathi Biko, from the Steve Biko Foundation, told the media that the purpose of the National Dialogue was to develop a common vision, and collectively, intervene to bolster substantive democracy and re-orientate the nation to their deferred dream.

Biko said the country has found itself on a dangerous uncertain path - a directionless corruption of the body politic that has led to the current state of paralysis in social, economic, political, and governance spheres and national despair.

“The current parlous state of economic growth, coupled with widespread crime and corruption, poverty, gross inequality, and intractable unemployment have earned our nation a dishonourable place on many global indices.

“This poor performance is corroborated by the lived reality of the majority of citizens, whose experience has rendered us the protest capital of the world. Such a ticking time bomb must be disarmed through a more responsive democracy,” he said.

He said that it was time for the citizens to take part in paving a new way forward.

“We call on all citizens to engage in defining a clear vision and establishing a unifying programme that inspires new national hope.

“Out of this reflection must arise a renewed commitment to constitutional democracy and the urgency to improve the material conditions of those left behind,” he said.

Biko said the 2024 elections have highlighted some of the ever-deepening fissures that exist in the society.

According to Biko, they manifested, among others, in the huge gap between rich and poor, urban and rural, inadequate governance, and collapsing health and educational institutions.

“There exists a palpable sense of despair, hopelessness, and general despondency. This feeling in society has been on the ascendancy for more than a decade and threatens to reverse the gains of our hard-fought democracy,” he said.

He welcomed President Cyril Ramaphosa’s call to the national dialogue on the country’s future.

Although they could not dwell much on the Government of National Unity (GNU), the foundations said they hoped for the best possible outcome for the country’s future.

Biko further said the foundation will approach the government through the presidency, as well as other stakeholders in civil society and business to ensure that the dialogue is resourced and supported.

[email protected]

IOL Politics