African National Congress (ANC) veteran Dr Mathews Phosa has condemned leaders who use party ranks as a stepping stone to positions of power, and he stated that renewal of the ANC should not be about words but rather actions.
He was speaking during a seminar organised by higher education institution STADIO, at its Centurion Campus. Phosa is a recipient of the fellow of STADIO award for his contribution to good governance and ethical leadership.
He said people who were quiet about acts of corruption, kept “feeding the beast that continues to loot the State”.
He said, as a proud South African, he had lived by the principles enshrined in the South African Constitution, which he stated was a testament to the will of negotiators who finished their work in 1996 and was a reminder of what “we can do when we as South Africans have set our differences aside and look at a bigger picture”.
Phosa added that while the Constitution protected freedom of speech, growing noise and action called for people to be cautious when “we speak truth to power”.
“When we speak out against corruption, misuse of power, discrimination and sensitivity to the blood of the poor, some so-called leaders are quick to call us counter-revolutionaries, clever whites or clever blacks, protectors of minority interests,” he stated.
He said the current government had become hyper-insensitive to criticism while populist language has become fashionable. He said this did not move the country forward.
He warned that once there was a void of deliverables and little policy certainty, the “corruption monster” took over.
He also said the South African justice system was slow, politicised, big on statements but blind on action.
He pointed out that there were still political leaders who were “untouchable” despite damning findings by the Zondo Commission and other commissions and agencies, all while the electorate faced power cuts, lack of water and shacks for schools.
He said the ANC had lost respect from society, saying that party leaders once prided themselves as the leaders of society, but not anymore.
He said government's job must be to improve the lives of all who live in it, irrespective of race and gender.
“National Assembly must hold the government accountable and the judiciary must be left to do their job alone without fear of favour or prejudice,” he stressed.
He said South Africa had principled, young, brave people of all races and he urged citizens not to “sell their voices and their souls” by protecting the corrupt.
“It’s all in your hands,” he stressed.