Yesterday, on the very same day that the City of Cape Town won a massive victory over South African National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral) – as far as the controversial N1 and N2 Cape Winelands toll project is concerned, for now, if Sanral wishes to pursue this proposed tolling process, it must start from scratch…) – large crowds of our city’s diverse residents – who were united, despite their differences, by a single, all-encompassing cause – came together from vastly different corners of the sprawling Mother City to march in solidarity against corruption in S.A., especially amongst the so-called ‘powers that be’, in the ‘People’s March’.
The March – organised by the ‘Unite Against Corruption (UAC)’ campaign and fiercely supported by the likes of: Constitutional watchdogs, the ‘Right2Know’ campaign, the ‘Centre for Environmental Rights’ (CER) and ‘Churches Against Corruption’ – brought the people of Cape Town together (particularly at Keizersgracht, District 6, the march’s designated starting point), as they joined the march from spots across the city (as my classmates and I did), though they had one common final destination in mind: Parliament.
The March – which, along with corresponding marches that simultaneously occurred across our country in: Pretoria (this particular march to the Union Buildings really drew in numbers. Recognisable figures like EFF leader, Julius Malema, and Daily Maverick’s Richard Poplak were among supporters), Durban, Polokwane and Grahamstown, was scheduled to run from 11h00-15h00 – has been hailed as “South Africa’s biggest anti-corruption march” to date – though one hopes it will be the first, but by no means the last of its kind.
In Cape Town, unlike in Pretoria where the weather was gloriously sunny, marchers had to brave the elements, as rain lashed and as ever, the merciless Cape Doctor blew through the city, yet not even the weather could dampen the enthusiasm and passion of those present or keep the masses away.
Although there was a strong police presence, the C.T. march that I attended was perfectly peaceful (but for the weather) as no one was out to cause trouble, they were simply out to fight corruption amongst CEOs, government officials and other powerful South African ‘rulers’ and/or politicians. This, in turn, was testament to what UAC envisioned for the march ahead of the time, when they said that: “The country is at a stage where a strong, peaceful and unified response to corruption is necessary to make those responsible for corruption listen to the masses.”
The marches were all about reminding the government of one very important thing: that the (human) rights of S.A. citizens belong to the people and not to the government or those in positions of power. It was a reminder long overdue, especially when one learns that UAC estimates that corruption in S.A., “has cost at least R700-billion in the past 20 years,” and one that, I hope, will have made a good, strong impact right across the board, as this, too, is something that is desperately needed…
Some marchers in Cape Town sang and danced, as others held up posters bringing phrases such as: “Corruption taxes the poor. We say tax the rich,” – which only served to highlight the general feeling amongst our country’s people, as well as the apparent slogan of the march: ‘Enough is Enough”, – as R2K’s Murray Hunter and other organisers looked on, beneath the leaden skies.
The marches were endorsed by key figures like Public Protector, Thuli Madonsela and Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, who said he would have joined the march if he had been well enough to. However, though his recent stints in hospital sadly made this impossible, representatives of the ‘Leah and Desmond Tutu Foundation’ were said to be in attendance.
(@UAC – the campaign’s recognised Twitter profile – said that roughly 4,000 marchers had been in attendance for the Pretoria march, whilst in Cape Town, it was in the hundreds. I am proud to have made up that tally.)
Minister in the Presidency, Jeff Radebe (at the Union Buildings, Pretoria), and Cape Chamber of Commerce ED, Sid Power, (at Parliament, Cape Town) were on hand to receive the memoranda of demands/understanding that were handed over yesterday.
Although I could see and feel first-hand the impact that such a day – which featured notable guest speakers like: Archbishop Thabo Makgoba and Julius Malema – could have, I feel that we need to make such marches far more common occurrences… this cannot and must not be a once-off thing in any of our cities. Thankfully, there will be another, even bigger march on October 14th.
After all, those who wield power generally have very selective and short memories, especially when it comes to matters that they do not wish to be mindful of… but this time, as citizens of our beloved South Africa, I say that it’s time that we refuse to allow them to forget, because enough really is enough!
For more info., please see: www.uniteagainstcorruption.co.za.
Many thanks to the following sites for the additional info. used in this post:
[Please note: All views expressed and photos contained herein are entirely my own.]