President Cyril Ramaphosa. Picture: GCIS
President Cyril Ramaphosa. Picture: GCIS

President Cyril Ramaphosa has called on the electorate to use their votes to demonstrate their intolerance for corruption, theft and mismanagement of funds meant to benefit them.

“These elections are an opportunity to make your voice heard and be part of the change you yourself want to see,” the president said on Tuesday.

South Africans will elect local government representatives on October 27.

The president called on citizens to use the elections to make their voices heard and discouraged South Africans from resorting to violent demonstrations, burning and looting, because that undermined the cause they seek to advance.

“Exercising our right to vote is by far the most powerful form of protest. If those who claim to serve you are not doing so, vote them out, take them out, because that is the one weapon we all have,” the president said.

Emboldened by the decision of his party’s national executive committee to ask those who have been charged with crimes such as corruption, fraud and theft to step aside, Ramaphosa said voters should help weed out corrupt leaders.

“Demonstrate to them that you do not approve of the way they are running things, stealing money. Vote them out if they are abusing resources and take them out with your vote,” he said.

Ramaphosa commemorated the country’s 27 years of freedom in Botshabelo, Free State, where he expressed deep disappointment with those who plunder state resources and neglect the people they are supposed to serve.

That he managed to go to the Free State, the home ground of his arch rival in the ANC, Ace Magashule, to continue his fight against corruption showed a renewed confidence in his battle to weed out corruption in the party and the government.

Magashule and a handful of others have until Friday to step aside or be suspended by the party.

“Our vote is the most potent weapon, the most effective weapon through which we can improve our lives and transform our communities. I call on you to exercise your right in the upcoming local government elections,” Ramaphosa said.

“I call on you to decide who among the many candidates has the ability and determination to work tirelessly on your behalf,” he said.

“Access to housing, education and health care is being undermined because those tasked with service delivery do not care enough. Our people expect that those tasked with the job of improving their lives should do just that and should not steal resources that belong to our people and put them in their own pockets.”

Ramaphosa said the continued practice of stealing, abusing and diverting resources is an affront against the people of SA, who deserve better.

He said local government elections are a period to remind those who the people of SA have put into key positions that their preoccupation must be the people, not themselves.

“I call on you to determine the future of your own family and your community by putting your confidence in a party that has the best policies, the will and the means to implement them,” said Ramaphosa.

While acknowledging that corrupt public servants are a contradiction to service delivery, Ramaphosa said the legacy of apartheid also played a role in determining the lives that South Africans live, adding that as a result, freedom remained elusive for millions.

“The legacy of apartheid remains a defining feature of our land. Even after decades it remains in many ways, determining where people will live, what assets they own, what schooling they receive, what jobs they do and how safe they feel.

“As we celebrate this Freedom Day, we can point to the great progress we have made in confronting the legacy of apartheid, but we cannot celebrate Freedom Day without acknowledging how much further we still need to go. We cannot deceive ourselves and say ‘yes, we are free’ without acknowledging there is still a lot of work we need to do to improve the lives of our people.”

The president highlighted the provision of water and electricity and opening the doors of learning to children, particularly the poor.

While the provision of health care and measures to lift millions of people out of abject poverty are among the victories of the democratic government, he said the country still had many challenges that impact on all.

But Ramaphosa said there were no challenges too big to be overcome.

TimesLIVE

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