It’s time to “stop the Zuma nightmare”‚ and for the people of South Africa to “begin to dream again”.
Convener of the Save SA campaign, Sipho Pityana, said this during his “real state of the nation address” in St George’s Cathedral in Cape Town’s CBD.
Nepotism, corruption and state capture were “tearing the country apart” and reflected the “real” state of the nation, he said.
The church was packed with activists, religious leaders and ordinary South Africans from various backgrounds, who came armed with flags and placards.
Speaker after speaker spoke out against corruption, setting out their opposition to President Jacob Zuma’s leadership. At one point, “Phantsi, Jacob Zuma, phantsi! [away with Jacob Zuma, away]” was heard bellowing from the audience.
Pityana, who delivered the keynote address,
relentlessly climbed into Zuma and urged Baleka Mbete, speaker of the National Assembly, to not address Zuma as “honourable” on Thursday when he delived his state of the nation address, “because we know for a fact that he is not”.
“Zuma had lost the trust of the people in South Africa,” he said.
We are guided by a crippled president who is not trusted by the masses, but rather he disgusts the people with his shameful actions, Pityana said.
Between 2002 and 2007 South Africa saw the fastest growth in the black middle class‚ an economy that was beginning to reduce unemployment‚ an unprecedented economic growth of over 4.5%‚ a systematic reduction in poverty‚ a stable debt-to-GDP ratio‚ controlled inflation‚ and a healthy balance of payment, said Pityana.
“Yet‚ under your leadership‚ President Zuma‚ all these gains have been reversed. Look at your mess.”
Land restitution‚ racism and youth unemployment have, according to Pityana, worsened since Zuma assumed office, and the “false promise of free education is threatening to destroy the great asset we have in our universities”.
Regarding Zuma’s response to the deaths of 94 psychiatric patients in the Gauteng government system after they were transferred to non-governmental organsations, Pityana said “a real president” would order that national flags be flown at half-mast and call a national day of mourning.
“The blemish of Esidimeni‚ like the Marikana massacre‚ only shows how little the lives of the poor and vulnerable matter to you. We need a leader who knows to put them first.”
Pityana added that state capture was stealing the soul of state institutions and promoting looting.
He predicted that the biggest looting would take place in the country’s nuclear build programme, and warned that it needed to be stopped before it was too late.
“We have to stop the Zuma nightmare‚ and begin to dream again‚” Pityana said.
If former minister of public works Gwen Mahlangu-Nkabinde and former minister of communication Dina Pule, against whom adverse findings were made, could resign, why could Zuma not do the same, he asked.
“Should you not follow the example of Brian Molefe, former Eskom chief executive, and resign in the interest of the country?” he said.
“Zuma must go, and go immediately. It is only when Zuma goes that the country will be saved.”