Dr Mamphela Ramphele spoke at The Origins Centre at Wits on Thursday where she said that South Africans are living in fear of our current political leaders.
Ramphele started off by saying how proud she was of her “A team,” referring to the members of Agang who were present. They handed out flyers and Agang T-shirts at the entrance to the venue.
She said the fact that her speech took place at the Origins Centre is relevant as it reminds us that we all came from Africa. It was also important that Saturday in Freedom Day, the event that “commemorates the day we restored freedom of our own rights.”
Ramphele said that it was evident that Agang has struck a chord with many of the youth of South Africa and that people, especially women have expressed that they are frustrated and feel that they have the same rights as they did during apartheid.
As part of her campaign she said that she still has many places that she has to visit but it is evident that this frustration with the current situation was a common theme among people from all walks of life.
Ramphele went on to address issues within South Africa, such as incidences where people in rural areas want dignified, sustainable housing and basic necessities.
The question she then raised was: “Why if millions criticise and say they want change, has so little happened?”
“The answer lies in fear. Fear is the most important deterrent in South African Politics. It is this fear which erodes the souls of black people. It is fear that makes it impossible for us to behave as people, let alone free people.”
“South Africans have not fully eroded the demons of the past.” “
She said that people are scared that if they stand up against the ruling party they will lose their social grounds, reputation and government tenders.
She gave an example of fear within major businesses when she said: “We have seen leading banks being forced to retract adverts of school children that undermine the government.”
Ramphela urged people to reclaim their human rights which are stated within the South African constitution, the constitution that was not provided to those who fought apartheid, but for which they weren’t afraid to fight for.
She spoke of those who suffered during apartheid: “They overcame their own fear and they ignored others who told them to be afraid. It was this spark that won us liberation on 1994.”
“There is nothing more powerful than the mind of the suppressed.”
Ramphele said that 30 billion of our budget goes into corruption within the government and frivolous spending.
“The main corruption lies in the palace that has been built for president Zuma.”
“Think of the future we could have if we had that 30 billion,” she said.
“20 years is too long to wait for an economy with opportunities for livelihoods for all, safe streets, schools, homes, leaders for SA,” Ramphele referred to the 20 year economic NDP plan.
“Where’s the sense of public outrage at how corruption robs us of our future? Where are the voices?It’s fear that keeps people silent.”
“Let us confine fear to the bottomless pit from which it will never emerge.”
A student from the audience said: “I do have fear, and right now my biggest fear is disappointment. How do I know that the promises made will be kept after elections?”
Ramaphele responded by saying that the youth are the future leaders of South Africa, and that fear of being disappoint lies in their hands, it is in their votes. “You and I will make sure we succeed.”
She concluded by saying that if people let go of their fears and express their rights, “I have no doubt that thus country of our dreams will be a country of democracy and one that we are proud to be part of”.