Madam Speaker, Honourable Members, Comrades, Fighters, Democrats, Fellow citizens of this proud nation.
Last week we lost a colleague and a committed Parliamentarian. Those who worked closely with Honourable Timothy Khoza spoke of his big heart and his concern for others. He died while performing his duty to his country, and that is how we will remember him: committed to the people, always trying to make a difference. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and his party at this difficult time.
Honourable Members, we may represent different parties in this House, but we are united in our love for our country and our loyalty to the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa. We may have different opinions, but we are not enemies. All of us –- black, white, Indian and coloured –- want South Africa to work. To be the prosperous nation we know it can be.
I became a Member of Parliament because I wanted to serve the people of this country. I wanted to make a difference. And I know that most of you are here for the same reason: you want to do what is right, what is just and what is honourable. We have all travelled a different journey to get here.
Growing up in Soweto in the 1980s I witnessed, like many of you, the sharp end of Apartheid brutality. And I swore that I would do what I could, with what I have, to fight oppression in this country. I never imagined that one day I would be here, in this Parliament, fighting a new form of oppression -– a corrupt system that keeps our people imprisoned in poverty.
If you had told me that one day our democratically elected President would end up corrupted and captured by a criminal syndicate, I would've never believed you. But here we are. We may have travelled along different roads, but we have arrived at the same destination. We all have a chance today to do what is right, what is just and what is honourable.
I know many of you are tired of talking about President Zuma and the Guptas. So am I. And that is why we tabled this motion –- so that we can move on from this disastrous chapter and focus on the things that matter to our people.
The choice we face today is simple. Will we allow one family, aided and abetted by our President, to take everything we have from us?
Honourable Members, Today is a historic day. Indeed, since the dawn of our democracy, the stakes have never been higher. Our state has been captured. We know this from the hundreds of thousands of emails that have been leaked. We know this from the testimony of Members and former Members of this House.
As a result, our economy is in recession and our country has been downgraded to junk status. While the corrupt quickly exchange their stolen rands into dollars, it is ordinary South Africans who are hit hard. I have seen the effects of poverty in communities across South Africa. I have spoken to people who collect spoiled meat from rubbish dumps to feed their families. I have met mothers who feed their children on sugar water and boiled weeds. I've heard of parents abandoning their babies, and I have heard of good people turning to crime out of sheer desperation.
Life is incredibly hard for poor South Africans. Bread will cost more tomorrow than it did yesterday. For many families, the dream of owning their own home grows ever more distant. Those who rely on social grants are struggling to get by, as their grants can't keep up with the cost of living. The value of pensions and savings is shrinking. There is less money for textbooks, new classrooms and scholar transport. And there is less work for the millions of young people who have never had a job and have given up looking for one.
Honourable Members, The choice we face today is simple. Will we allow one family, aided and abetted by our President, to take everything we have from us? Or will we, on behalf of the people of South Africa who elected us, take our country back? The choice before us is not between yellow, red or blue. It is not about party politics. It is not about which party tabled the motion. Today our choice is between right and wrong. Between good and evil. Today we either do what is best for our country, or we turn our back on it.
When we vote today, let us recall the oath of office that each of us swore to uphold: I swear that I will be faithful to the Republic of South Africa, and will obey, respect and uphold the Constitution and all other law of the Republic. I solemnly promise to perform my functions as a member of the National Assembly to the best of my ability.
Each of us said those words, right here in this House. But saying the words means nothing if we are not prepared to live them too. Are we, Honourable Members? Are we prepared to uphold the Constitution and the law of the Republic, as we swore we would do? Voting on a secret ballot means none of us has an excuse. We are all free to follow our conscience.
Your vote in favour of the motion today, Honourable Khoza, is the ultimate service to the people.
If we fail to use this opportunity, history will judge us harshly. And the people of South Africa may never forgive us. I hold out the hope that there are enough people in this House today who will put politics aside and do what is right for the people they were elected to serve. We are encouraged by the words of former Minister Gordhan when he says: "I think the president should move aside and let somebody take over this country and reset the course‚ so that we can fulfil the kind of aspirations that Mandela and his generation had for South Africa."
The question is, Honourable Gordhan, will you play your part in resetting our course today? We are encouraged by the words of Honourable Hanekom when he says: "Most MPs are senior members of the ANC – committed to South Africa and our movement. They'll do what is best for our country." The question is, Honourable Hanekom, will you do what is best for our country today? We take heart from the words of Honourable Ramaphosa when he says about state capture: "I will not keep quiet and remain numb to what this means for our country and its people. We will not protect those in our own ranks who are involved in these actions."
The question is, Deputy President Ramaphosa, will you speak out today, when it really matters? And then there was the frank admission by Honourable Blade Nzimande when he recalled the events that led up to Polokwane in 2007. He said: "Had we known that our revolution and our struggle were going to be handed over to an immigrant Indian family going by the name of Gupta, we would have behaved differently. We would not have thought that Zuma was the right person to lead the ANC and to lead the alliance or the country, for that matter."
The question is, Honourable Nzimande, are you prepared to correct your mistake of ten years ago in this House today? We were moved by the brave words of Honourable Khoza when she told President Zuma: "South Africa no longer needs you. Uphold the ANC's Constitution, uphold the country's Constitution and step aside and let moral and ethical leaders lead this country." Your vote in favour of the motion today, Honourable Khoza, is the ultimate service to the people.
Honourable Members, These statements reflect what many, if not most of you, feel. Aside from the instructions given to the ANC caucus to follow the party line, who within the ANC and its alliance really wants President Zuma to remain? Among ANC stalwarts, the calls for him to step down have become a deafening chorus, with former presidents leading this chorus.
Former President Kgalema Motlanthe is on record stating that if he were an MP he'd support the motion to remove President Zuma. He said: "Those people are not hirelings of the ANC. They are public representatives. They take an oath as parliamentarians to be public representatives. They can't be treated the same way as you treat an ANC branch."
I know what Nelson Mandela, would have done in this House today. And you know it too.
Former President Thabo Mbeki shared this sentiment when he said: "It is obvious and logical that MPs must act in Parliament as the voice of the people, not the voice of the political parties to which they might belong."
Honourable Members, I know what Nelson Mandela, would have done in this House today. And you know it too. He once said: "May your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears." I am asking you today to overcome your fear, to show courage when the people of this country need you. I am asking you today to vote for hope. The hope that we can defeat the corruption that oppresses our people. The hope of a prosperous nation at peace with itself and the world. The hope that we can make South Africa a better place for our children.
If we do the right thing today, we will give our children a brighter future. Vote for your hopes, Honourable Members, not your fears. Do the right thing. Vote with your conscience, and remove this corrupt and broken President from office.