The Covid-19 pandemic has multiplied the socio-economic hardships in our country and magnified the disparities, National Assembly Speaker Thandi Modise said as she introduced a virtual public lecture on Africa Day on Monday.
She said the disruption wrought by the pandemic was far from invisible – it had multiplied the socio-economic hardships in the country, and had magnified the existing disparities.
“It is an unrelenting and unforgiving enemy, but we came out to face it – this threat to life and livelihoods. This is a war fought without guns – it is fought with decisive leadership, strengthened collective resolve, human ingenuity and resilience,” Modise said.
“We are facing a new enemy with different tactics – but the terrain is all too familiar in Africa – it is poverty, hunger, underdevelopment, inequality, disenfranchisement, oppression, corruption and violence, especially against the women and children.
“We have faced these threats over centuries, we have not given in; we have persevered, we have grown and we shall overcome.”
“We observe Africa Day today – and remind ourselves of the value and strength in our joint and collective fight against our shared and common threat to life and livelihoods. We remind ourselves of our resolve to the development and prosperity of our nations, our Continent and her people.”
Modise then spoke of the continental bodies and the unity and cooperation they fostered.
Turning back to South Africa, she said the budget was the “most powerful instrument by which government can implement its priorities to correct, adjust and change lives”.
“This year, Covid-19 has intervened – forcing planned spending to be altered. Parliament must be alive to this and scrutinise the budget through all phases to ensure that every cent is spent correctly. Our regular, robust interaction with civil society and institutions supporting democracy continues to be important, even more so in this state of national disaster.”
“We observe Africa Day today in a reflective mood – uncertain of the lives we will continue to lose to this coronavirus, uncertain of socio-economic impact on the morale of our people. Yet we remain positive in this rapidly changing and volatile world.
“We remain in our resolve and resilience to face and overcome what may be new and yet unknown threats in the future. Our unfailing belief, hope and certitude is that this too shall pass and we shall emerge from this stronger, because we have faced this with our collective resolve.
“We remain firm in our conviction that we will endure as South Africa; as sons, daughters and citizens of Africa, because we have always placed value on human life above economic gain, and on our inherent commitment to collective action.”
She concluded with the words of former Ghanaian president Kwame Nkrumah: “The forces that unite us are intrinsic and greater than the superimposed influences that keep us apart.”
“It is only us as Africans, who can define our future and it is through our collective action as a united people that we will give our children the future they deserve,” Modise said.