Time for change is now says Mamphela Ramphele

The ruling party has betrayed what many leaders of the struggle fought and died for by allowing a culture of corruption to spread with impunity.

On Wednesday (31 July) Dr Mamphela Ramphele, leader of the country’s youngest political party, Agang, lashed out at South Africa’s leaders when she spoke to students on the campus of Stellenbosch University. She was invited by the Stellenbosch Political Science Students’ Association (SPOSSA) to speak about the role of students.

Ramphele said she started Agang as a political party because she believes that the time for change is now.

“The situation is urgent,” Ramphele said, explaining that despite 20 years of democracy millions are still living like a forgotten people. One in four people are unemployed and more than half of the young people of South Africa are out of work. The poorest are the hardest hit.

“We have created a lost generation. People are leaving school without essential skills, thousands of mothers are dying while giving birth. Corruption is rife. This is a scandal. The government is destroying the country. We have arrived at a crossroads and we need to change course now or else those who are guilty of rampant corruption will rob us of a future. This is not the legacy our struggle leaders had in mind. It is not the country Biko, Luthuli and Ruth First dreamt of. The leaders set an appalling example and others follow. They abuse the trust of those who voted them into power.”

She said the “arrogance of those who steal with impunity”, for themselves, their families and friends is breath taking. She mentioned the Gupta airport scandal and Nkandla as examples of corruption.

“And then they threaten to take away social grants and RDP housing as if it is their gifts and not possible because of taxes.”

She added that it is possible that 90% of those writing matric can pass with an average mark of 60% thus “consigning the scandal of a 30% pass to the dust bins”. She said it was possible for every school to be equipped with appropriate classrooms, toilets and even laboratories and that it is possible to achieve economic growth of 5% per year thus creating thousands of jobs for young people

“This is what freedom should be. And it is in our range. This is the future we can have if we expect more of our government, our future and our country.”

She encouraged her audience of students to become active citizens to bring about change. They could help bring about change by voting in 2014 and not allowing the status quo to continue.

“It is up to you, who are our most important resource, to ensure that we can make this a great country,” she told the Stellenbosch University students.

She added that former President Nelson Mandela should be honoured for being a transformative force.

“We can turn to him for inspiration. But we need to take things further on our own. Madiba has done his duty.”