Former president Jacob Zuma slated the privatisation of state-owned enterprises and emphasised that citizens do not have to wait for the next elections to remove a leader if they are dissatisfied.
Zuma was addressing a Human Rights Day community gathering in his capacity as South African National Civic Organisation (Sanco) chairperson in KZN at Mandlakazulu Hall in Umlazi AA section, south of Durban, on Tuesday.
He said state entities belong to the people of South Africa and they should be vocal in their condemnation of privatisation.
“No one has the right to sell SOEs. Why are you quiet while the things belonging to you are being sold without your knowledge or permission? They have already sold SAA, yet we were not told the reasons for it. We don’t even know what that money was used for or where it went, but we are the people of South Africa,” he said.
He then referred to former Eskom CEO Andre De Ruyter’s allegations of corruption at the state-owned power utility. He said if the government fails to run SOEs, then people should replace them with those who can.
“The government does not have the right to sell the country’s property [which is] therefore our property. I want people to know this. If people can’t run, do what you need. You can always find others who can. What is stopping you?”
Zuma said he joined Sanco because he wanted to dedicate his remaining years to teaching people about their rights and that power rests with them, not politicians.
“I want to be of use. What I want to do for the rest of my life is to contribute to people’s understanding of their rights, from the first to the last. You have the right to tell the people you elected if you are not satisfied with them. If you see that you are not satisfied with Zuma, even before elections, it is your right to remove him if you are not satisfied with the direction he is leading you,” he said.
“I want to emphasise and contribute in changing our thinking as South Africans to understand that we have the power to remove the government if it is not working for us. That is part of our rights and we should understand.”
He said people should not be scared of the people they elected into positions because the power rests with the masses.
Zuma said South Africans should engage in a new conversation about what majority rule means and how it is implemented.
“It’s only majority rule in theory. Practically, we only see it once in five years. In between those five years, it’s only a few people who make decisions on our behalf. That’s another thing we need to look into and fix.”
A civic organisation was different from a political party in that it represented the interests of the people without having to abide by party politics, Zuma added.
“I don’t want this organisation to fail like political parties and that’s why I want to use my last energy in a way that when the time comes for me to join my ancestors, I will know that I left South Africa in the hands of the people.”
He said he met people daily who say they won’t vote ANC in the future. He pointed to the municipalities the party lost in the 2021 local government elections and said at this rate the party might lose the province [KZN].
“It looks like there might be a dark cloud over us next year if we’re not careful. All alliance partners are weak — it’s like they were killed by one of us but they are acting as if nothing is happening.”
He also suggested that if the ANC was not willing to change its ways, he would be ready to campaign for someone else: “If I see that the bucket I’m pouring in doesn’t get full, I will remove from it and pour in another one.”
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