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EVITA BEZUIDENHOUT'S STATE OF THE NATION SPEECH


Jannie
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EVITA BEZUIDENHOUT'S STATE OF THE NATION SPEECH ON 29 SEPTEMBER 2008

AT A FUNDRAISING LUNCHEON IN CAPE TOWN FOR THE DARLING TRUST

Let me start by sharing a State Secret with you about the State of the

Nation.

The nation is fine. There is no crisis. It is business most unusual,

but not surprising. One would expect this fourteen-year old democracy

to once again prove itself to be unique.

We do not follow some blueprint for survival. We are the blueprint.

Only we would swop a former president with a degree in economics and

the vision of an African Renaissance, for a possible future president

with Standard Three and a machinegun in his song. Jacob Zuma still has

a few months in which to find his umshini wami. Meanwhile: the nation

is fine.

In a democracy it is normal to be surprised by change. As the great

Greek philosopher Daelius Hertus said: 'If democracy is too good to

share with just anyone, it is time to ask the question: Quo Vadis.' So

where to?

Apartheid was democracy for the few. So South Africa did ask that

question.

'Quo Vadis?'

In 1976, Soweto shook the foundations of the land.

'Liberation before Education' became the war cry of the Struggle and

eventually we got liberation at the cost of a generation without

education.

1990 was another sinkhole that swallowed up a bad political mistake and

replaced it with an impossible dream come true. We whites got away

with apartheid. There was no Nuremburg Trial. None of us was hanged like

Saddam Hussein for crimes against humanity. In fact President Nelson

Mandela even invited some of us to join his Government of National

Unity.

1994 became the first year in the life of this new chance for

all. Then after a glorious five years with Nelson Mandela as our first

democratically-elected president, he stepped down - which is very

un-African - and made way for the vision of Thabo Mbeki.

Once I got over the shock that the name 'Thabo' was an anagram for

Botha', I realized that this was not just politics as usual. It was a

calling. Thabo Mbeki had been planning his campaign for 30 years, sipping

whisky in a Brighton hotel. He was not the favourite to succeed

Madiba. But as an eventual graduate from the University of Moscow and

a Stalinist Cum Laude, he soon cut our democratic foot to fit his

authoritarian shoe. The rich got richer and the poor just became a

statistic. 'Ignore them and they will go away' was the shrug of commitment

from Ama-Tswane, and they did go away in spite of the generous helpings

of beetroot, African potatoes and garlic.

I was always very impressed by Thabo Mbeki. Not only did he look so

nice in his little suits, his hair was always neat and even though we

had to put Tipex in his beard to make him look older and more

distinguished, he eventually grew into the image of leader and

visionary. His speeches were legendary.

They overwhelmed me with their brilliance. I never knew what he meant, but

he said it so nicely, quoting from Shakespeare, Woolworths and

Thesaurus. But he was never here. On the few occasions when Thabo

Mbeki came to South Africa on his short state visits, it was usually

only before an election to show a human side to his Mbekivellian

designs. He would hug children, kiss old ladies and shake hands. He

became a man of the people. What we didn't know was that after the

cameras left, he would vomit for hours, allergic to the touch of the

common populace.

In Afrikaans we say: 'wat jy saai, sal jy maai.' Whereas in

Shakespeare, enemies were dispatched by knife, sword or pike, in

Thabo's world they were either swallowed up by the collective

leadership, sent to Taiwan as ambassador, or elbowed out into the real

world of business and commerce.

Then came Polokwane, the ANC's Rubicon. Like P.W. Botha, who was

Eventually washed off his pedestal by the waves of farewell after his

famous speech, Thabo was spectacularly stranded on the sandbank of

irrelevance by the recent Zunami. It brought home that fatal lesson:

never take democracy for granted.

Two centres of power emerged: the Mbekivellians to the right and the

Jacobians to the left. In an upside-down political turmoil the lowest

common denominator tends to float on top. The nation was appalled to

see the likes of a Julius Malema annexing the media headlines with

cries to kill and eliminate.

The tripartite alliance (from apartheid to tripartite? Does history

Always repeat itself in rhyme and rythmn?) from Communist to Cosatuist

was demanding pieces of the melktert of power.

But democracy is not the motionless stone statue of a roaring lion. It

is a shaggy old dog that needs to give itself a good shake every now

and then so that the fleas can fall off. In the last week the fattest

fleas have flown in all directions. The Angel of Death, formerly

Minister of Health, is now in the Presidency as Minister, having taken

over from the Eminence Gris, Essop the Dour. I once met him in a dark

passage and thought I'd be catapulted into the underworld of 'The Lord

of the Rings.' The King of the Orcs! But Manto is happy. She will now

always be near the Cabinet! Will her new liver finally reject the

body? The Minister of Intelligence is also gone. Ronnie Kasrils was

always more the one and less of the other. They say he was better off

with his former portfolio where he could smoke examples of his

forestry. Terror, the Minister of War, is gone and left us with

expensive boats that don't sail, priceless submarines that won't

submerge, state-of-the-art fighter planes that rust on the ground and

a wish list of a few more billion rands worth of heavy-muscle

armaments.

We still don't know who the enemy is. Maybe we the people were seen as

the greatest enemy and we have paid the price in hard-earned rands as

a result.

While the Crown Prince of the ANC dances in his feathers and rare and

protected animal skins and assagaais and spears, the party managed to

stop the roundabout of chaos and take stock. ANC no longer stood for

African National Congress but A Nice Cheque. Was this the liberation

movement of Tambo, Sisulu and Mandela that came out of the darkness to

give us light? Had we all forgotten the legacy of Madiba who proved

that if you love your enemy, you will ruin his reputation? Was there

someone with a brain in Lutuli House who was listening to the instinct

of survival and reconciliation? Or would the struggle-tsotsis and

political pirates take over the ship of state?

Comrade Cheryl Carolus once said to me when I was nervous about what

the future would give us as we drifted further away from the optimism of

1994:

'Tannie Evita, the ANC will always explore every cul-de-sac before we

find the freeway.' Behold the new Kgalema Motlante Boulevard! Taking

up where the National Party left off, the NEC of the ANC removed the

latest obstacle.

Thabo Mbeki was recalled. I remember how we recalled John Vorster by

kicking him upstairs to keep him out of jail during the Information

Scandal. Then in 1989, we kicked President P.W. Botha into the

Wilderness to keep us all out of jail. Then in 1990 F.W. de Klerk

kicked open a cell door and let out the terrorist who turned out to be

the hope for our future.

Imagine where we would have been today if Nelson Mandela had come out

of jail angry? How would you have felt? In jail for 27 years for what

you believe in? Away from your children? Your wife goes mad? Nelson

Mandela could so easily have come out of jail and spoken like Robert

Mugabe. Nelson Mandela could so easily have said: 'To hell with

democracy! Take the wealth and kill the whites!' And yes, hundreds

upon hundreds of whites could have been killed and no one in the world

or on CNN would have looked in our direction. But he didn't say that.

None of them said that. Nelson Mandela came out of 27 years in jail

with that beautiful smile and said: 'Tannie Evita? Give me another

koeksister!'

And so once again South Africa survives its own brand of coup d'etat.

Getting rid of what clogs the sewerage pipes of political progress.

But we don't do it with guns and blood, shock and awe. We get rid of

our leader with embrace, gratitude and compassion, smiling with

flowers in one hand and Tassenberg in the other, pushing them gently

to the edge of the cliff and then with a final Amandla/ Vrystaat,

dropping them out of the spotlight of power, usually without a legacy

to stand on.

The nation is fine. President Kgalema Motlanthe is a man of few press

clippings. I have always called him by his third name Petrus. That's

the only headache for me. After months of twisting my tongue round

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Nonzizwe Madlala-Routledge, Nkosazana

Dlamini-Zuma, I now have to work on Buyelwa Sonjica, Siyabonga Cwele,

Nathi Mthethwao. . .

(Hell, we were lucky with Tutu!) They say President Petrus is an interim leader

till after the election of 2009. Interim is only a word you use in

case you've made a wrong choice. If interim becomes impressive,

inspirational and innovative, interim will happily become incumbent.

No political party will want to fix something that is not broken. And

as for Jacob Zuma? He is always there to remind us that democracy

gives every one a chance to enjoy the shower of acclaim.

And

also the downpour of disenchantment. Nelson Mandela proved that

politicians first go to jail and then into politics. Hopefully Jacob

Zuma won't want to do it the other way round.

But that's politics. We are the people. In a healthy democracy the

people must lead and the government can follow. Our focus must be on

the future of our children and our grandchildren. My three

grandchildren are my inspiration.

They are not white. They are not black. They are a Barack Obama beige.

And they demand a future, because they believe democracy will make

their dreams come true. Winnie-Jeanne, who is 11 years old, said to

me: 'Gogo? Vukuzensele!'

I said: 'Sies! Wat is dit?' She said that is Xhosa for 'Grannie,

stand up and do something.

Don't just sit there moaning and complaining and making white noise

like so many others.

If there is something about our politics that you don't like, stand up

do something! Vukuzinsele!'

And so I thought: Yes. I may be an Afrikaans Tannie. I might have

supported apartheid for all those years only because I didn't know it

was so horrible.

Because no one told us. I knew nothing. Even though I am 73 years old

today (and am still being impersonated by a third-rate comedian who is

ten years younger than me but makes me look older and fatter) - in

spite of all the things that should make me sit quietly in a chair and

read Huisgenoot or watch Desperate Housewives (in the last week we've

been glued to Desperate Comrades!) - I will get involved. I will make

sure democracy stays in full working condition in spite of the

struggle-tsotsis and political pirates who want to rape our

Constitution and then have a shower of celebration after the

treasonous act.

The election of 2009 is not just between a ruling, mainly black party

and an opposition that is mainly white and coloured. It is not about

colour. It is not about power. It is not about cadres and comrades, or

Zille, De Lille en hulle. The election is about the future of little

Winnie-Jeanne Makoeloeli. Her dreams and her hopes. One child

inspired, one child educated, one child saved could save the whole

world.

Remember this. In America there was a white woman who had a son. The

father was a black man who didn't stay long. This white woman worked

and sacrificed so that her small brown boy could be educated and

believe that his dream could come true. On 4 November 2008 that dream

might become a reality when Barack Obama becomes President of the USA.

One child. One dream.

The Darling Trust is there for every one dream. For every darling

child. For every Darling person. It needs funding. It has focus.

It needs money. It has passion. It needs sponsorship.

Thank you.

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