Hundreds gathered inside St George’s Cathedral Cape Town on the eve of the State of the Nation Address (SONA), Wednesday night, for a rally under the banner: “State capture culprits must be jailed”.
Organised by the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation, civil society organisations rallied behind the call for those implicated in state capture to be prosecuted.
Reclaim the City, the Social Justice Coalition (SJC), the Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (OUTA), MOMS Move for Justice, and Muslim Judicial Council were among the organisations present. Posters read:
“We will not allow Gupta Eskom deals to take our lights”, “Mr President time to take charge – Phambili!”, and “Crooks belong in jail, not in public office”.
SONA must include solution to state capture
Reverend Michael Weeder read a speech on behalf of Archbishop Thabo Makgoba. The letter reiterated a call Makgoba made at Christmas that 2020 be “the year of the orange jumpsuit” for those implicated in state capture.
He urged the nation to give the National Prosecuting Authority the space to do its job properly:
“Rushed, botched prosecutions followed by widespread acquittals would be a disaster, sending the wrong signals to the corrupt and plunging the country into despair.”
Second to speak was Moulana Abdul Khaliq of the Muslim Judicial Council.
“We are ready to take to the streets. How are we going to rescue our country from crime when we have criminals in positions of authority? The time of talk is over; now is the time to implement the law and bring these corrupt leaders to book. Islam stands for justice, honesty and truthfulness,” he said.
Crooks in Parliament
SJC General Secretary Axolile Notywala said his desire is to see poor people who are languishing in jail for petty crimes released for rehabilitation and exchange their overalls with “these crooks in our Parliament and government offices who are stealing billions of rands but have never set foot in the jail or court of law”.
“The dignity of the poor and the working class residents of our country is trampled on and there is a direct connection to the money that disappears that would feed and provide the most basic needs,” he said.
33 organisations signed a letter addressed to President Cyril Ramaphosa.
“Where is the justice for the real victims of state capture – the children who have to continue using dangerous and undignified pit latrines at school, while school infrastructure budgets have been cut; women who continue suffering because there are not enough resources to effectively deal with gender-based violence; the working poor, who have to ride unsafe passenger trains because of PRASA’s loss of billions due to state capture over the last decade?”
“We have seen the havoc that state capture has wreaked at a national level, and it is with increasing alarm that we watch it replicated at provincial and municipal levels of government.
It is a matter of time before many municipalities collapse under the strain of looting and poor management,” the letter said.
SONA MUST INCLUDE MEASURES TO TACKLE YOUTH UNEMPLOYMENT
Ramaphosa said that the government was working on interventions to create more jobs for the youth.
He made the remarks during a gathering in Cape Town on Wednesday where he addressed a group made up of young entrepreneurs, students and young people with disabilities.
President Ramaphosa said that the high youth unemployment rate was unacceptable.
He said of the approximately 1.2 million young people entering the labour market annually, almost two-thirds remained outside of employment, education or training.
And this was what government had set out to address in the implementation of the presidential youth employment intervention, which identified five priority actions for the next five years.
“This will be driven by a specialised project management office and its aim is to increase levels of alignment and focus across government and begin to tackle youth unemployment.”
Ramaphosa has promised to announce some of the immediate steps that government was taking to make this a reality during his State of the Nation Address this evening.