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A LETTER TO MY FELLOW CITIZENS

History is calling us to attention as citizens of this beautiful country.  The national elections of 29th May 2024 are a great opportunity for us as citizens, the owners of Mzansi Africa, to reclaim ownership of our democracy from those who have betrayed the promises of freedom.


The most powerful tool we have is the reaffirmation of our rights and responsibilities to make choices that honour the ultimate sacrifices of our heroes of the struggle to set us free.  We must use the power in our hands to elect only those leaders who can be trusted to lead with integrity, accountability, and competence.  We owe it to ourselves and to posterity to stop entrusting those who have, and continue to fail, with the sacred duty of leadership and management of our beloved country.


I am thrilled to see the growing enthusiasm of young people in both urban and rural areas, professionals, civil society leaders, and businesspeople shifting their focus from themselves, their families, and their successful careers, to tackle the challenge of failing public leadership in our land.  Just look around you and see who has put their hands up to lead. I am very proud of my sons and daughters who have stepped up.


All of us are called to exercise our leadership.   It starts with each of us resetting our mindsets from passive aggressive citizens to self-liberated citizens ready to reclaim our right to be led by people who respect us and our country.  We the people experience disrespect and abuse daily as we watch our public goods being stolen with impunity.  The power of abusers lies in the permission they are given by those whom they abuse.   We dare not continue to give tacit permission to those destroying our commonwealth.


Remember that my generation did not ask for permission to stop answering to being called non-white/non-European.  We simply stood up and declared ourselves black and proud Africans.  Our assertiveness stopped the system in its tracks!  We the citizens of Mzansi must simply stand up and assert our right to take back our country from the criminal entrepreneurs who have highjacked it.  We have the power to do so.  We have the numbers to do so, if each one of us stands up and mobilise and vote for change.


Our country desperately needs clean, ethical, accountable leaders in government at all levels.  The good news is that we have enough 25 to 55-year-olds who are highly skilled, competent, and ethical to tackle the task of transforming the governance of our country into a 21st century democratic state.  We urgently need a transition from the 60+ age group to young gifted competent leaders of integrity to lead us to the promised land that has eluded us for 30 years.


My fellow citizens, this election is not about who can keep the country stable. Our country is unstable already.  The source of instability is the failure of governance and the destructive practices that have eroded the Ubuntu foundations of our democracy.  We need young, creative and courageous leaders to transform our education, health care, and social safety nets to unleash the talent of each citizen to contribute to wellbeing for all.  The opportunity to completely reimagine and rebuild our public infrastructure to ensure access for all to basic water & sanitation, roads and transportation, waste removal & dignified human settlements, and reliable energy. 


We need leaders who are committed to restoring the dignity of those living in the disgraceful normalised poverty in our country of plenty.  Restoration of dignity starts with treating every human being as sacred, deserving of utmost respect.  Restoring the land of our ancestors to the millions of rural people would also help restore meaning in people’s lives.  Our Constitution commits us to this sacred duty that remains unattended to.


The staggering unemployment of no less that 8 million young people including professionals such as medical doctors and teachers can only be tackled by a competent committed government and public service.  Investments in rural development and appropriate infrastructure, has a huge potential to create millions of sustainable livelihoods and jobs. 

We must vote for leaders who have the skills and imagination to make the transition to renewable energy and sustainable climate change adaptation and mitigation, a top priority.  We have gifts of the sun, wind, vast land tracks and a youthful population that can turn our country from being part of the 20 top global polluters, to a country that produces enough renewable energy for its own needs as well as for export.  We need to free ourselves from the icy hand of those married to coal and build a clean energy future for the sake of our children’s children.


We have a great opportunity to use the power of our right to choose.  Make the choice that would honour our struggle heroes and secure a future for our offspring.  We dare not fail.

 

Mamphela Ramphele

Chair of Desmond Tutu IPTRUST & Chair of Global Compassion Coalition

14/5/2024

 

 

 

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