South Africans must engage in democratic renewal and change the country from “what it was, what it has become, to correcting economic imbalances” and “recovering the values lost” within government.
Business Leadership South Africa (BLSA), nonprofit Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse, the SA Council of Churches, Universities SA and the Federation of Unions South Africa stressed how much corruption had changed the dynamics of SA’s democracy and called for change.
An activist initiative was launched on Thursday as a national discussion document on democratic renewal. It aims to identify the political, social, economic and security challenges and threats facing SA, while citizens search for solutions and develop a framework for a national campaign.
According to the Defend Our Democracy Campaign’s Reverend Frank Chikane, the paper envisions a new agenda to enable people’s power, reverse the downward spiral, recover values and repurpose politics.
“We want to revisit and reimagine the future, while we [envision] our political system and values to make SA a country that we all want to live in,” Chikane said.
BLSA chief executive Busisiwe Mavuso said SA is faced with high inequality, unemployment, the failure rate of small businesses and one of the worst education systems in the world, which is a sign the country is at the brink of collapse.
“We’re very clear from a business perspective that we need a democratic renewal, because the reality we face is that the big failure is that the politics no longer work,” Mavuso said.
“Unfortunately, this is the elephant in the room. There are just too many crooks within political spheres which have outnumbered the few good men and women who want to see real change.”
She said when people have an environment where elected leaders steal parcels from the hungry and personal protective equipment from the sick and dying, it proves SA has lost it.
Professor Rudo Mathivha, Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital head of the intensive care unit, said while the world was celebrating World Health Day and SA was celebrating activist Charlotte Maxeke’s birthday, it was sickening to see the disorder in the public healthcare sector.
She said ongoing corruption, which went unpunished in SA, had led to the closure of the Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital, which was badly damaged by fire more than a year ago.
“It’s functioning [at] a capacity of just under 50% and nobody can explain why it’s taking so long to get this major academic hospital back to full functionality,” she said.
This was a disgrace to Maxeke’s memory and had a knock-on effect on the other public health facilities, as other provinces referred patients to academic hospitals in Gauteng.
“It is mismanagement and maladministration… The truth that lies prostrate on the pulpit of SA human history is that we have come to disrespect and dehumanise all stakeholders in the healthcare sector,” she said.
“Start with the health of your citizens and then start teaching them about democracy and debating it, being active about democracy and delivering it.”