’It can’t be that the freedom we sacrificed so much for is handed to thieves and crooks on a silver platter’
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Johannesburg - A former Soweto June 16 1976 student leader has lamented the sacrifices they made to free South Africa from the yoke of apartheid only for “thieves and crooks” to steal the future of the youth of this country.
Daniel Sechaba Montsitsi was the leader of the Soweto Students Representative Council, the formation that planned, organised and executed the events of the fateful day.
For his role the apartheid security police arrested, tortured and suffocated him before sending him to Robben Island where he spent three years.
In an exclusive interview with The Star, Montsitsi said: “It cannot be, therefore, that the freedom we sacrificed so much for, be handed to thieves and crooks on a silver platter.”
Montsitsi referred to those “thieves and crooks” as people who “masquerade as revolutionaries while their utmost intention is to syphon state and organisational resources for their own private benefit”.
He said some leaders in the ANC and government compromised the “advancement agenda of moving South Africa from a developmental state into a world-class democracy with economic boom, and a high quality of life for ordinary citizens”.
Montsitsi said the rampant looting of state coffers was responsible for the near collapse of education, health, housing and land restitution.
Montsitsi called for the arrest and conviction of those “who spit on the graves of our martyrs through corruption and theft”.
Government officials and politicians who are found guilty of theft and corruption must – like paedophiles, child molesters and rapists – have their names listed on the “Wall of Shame” for all to see, he said.
In a snipe at suspended ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule, Montsitsi said: “It is amazing how some leaders even fear their own step-aside resolution. When we discussed this ‘stepaside’ principle on Robben Island as political prisoners years ago, comrade Govan Mbeki explained it as a recusal of oneself from organisational duties in order to clear yourself from any misunderstanding that might have arisen and might affect your focus on organisational work or even put the organisation into disrepute.
“It was like taking some privileged sabbatical holiday and resume duties once the matter has been resolved. They had confidence in the innocence of comrades then, after all they were the leaders of society and placed upon themselves an abnormally high standard of ethical morality. They did not have to be pushed and coerced, they did it voluntarily and in most cases they were cleared,” he said.
How times have changed, another generation of leaders has to be instructed to step down, he said.
“Those who have never been through the eye of the needle, and have not been tried and tested, are easy to identify. Revolutionary politics do not fall like manna from heaven,” he said, adding that the “crooks” who were in the mass democratic movement were being exposed.
Montsitsi added: “On this 45th anniversary of Soweto June 16, 1976, we welcome and celebrate the youthful Parliament which has absorbed a number of young people”.
He referred to the young deputy minister in the Presidency Khumbudzo Ntshavheni, the Communications Minister Stella Ndabeni Abrahams, EFF MPs including leader Julius Malema, former Wits University SRC president and leader of the #FeesMustFall campaign, Nompendulo Mkhatshwa, who is now an ANC MP, Justice Minister Ronald Lamola, and a number of others across different political parties.
As we celebrate a youthful Parliament we are reminded of the 45% unemployment rate among the young people in South Africa, he said.
He called for the establishment of a Parliamentary Youth Forum/Caucus to conduct provincial meetings with the youth to begin a process of research and delivery to the youth.
“There may be a five-year, 10-year or 20-year plan against which the forum may be able to benchmark itself in terms of delivery. They may report to young people every year on June 16 on progress made and work in process,” he said.
Montsitsi said things had to be done differently to achieve different outcomes, “hopefully for the benefit of the youth of this country, whose future is in their shoulders”.