1994 demobilization ‘our biggest mistake’ – Jonas

Civil society protest in Cape Town to remove Jacob Zuma. Pic by Mzi Velapi

Former Deputy Minister of Finance, Mcebisi Jonas believes that the biggest historical mistake the country made after 1994 was to demobilize society and pin the country’s hopes on liberators and political parties. Jonas was addressing a crowd of demonstrators from civil society outside Parliament who were calling for President Zuma to be removed.

Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa

Former Deputy Minister of Finance, Mcebisi Jonas believes that the biggest historical mistake the country made after 1994 was to demobilize society and pin the country’s hopes on liberators and political parties. Jonas was addressing a crowd of demonstrators from civil society outside Parliament who were calling for President Zuma to be removed.

“The biggest mistake we made after 1994 comrade Solly [SACP Deputy General Secretary, Solly Mapaila], we demobilized our communities. We demobilized society as a whole. That is possibly the most dangerous historical mistake that we have committed as a country,” said Jonas to the crowd of people drawn mainly from non-governmental organizations. There was a clear absence of mass-based organizations even though there were leaders of the two federations, the Congress of South African Trade Union and the South African Federation of Trade Unions.

Jonas believes that South Africa needs a strong civil society. “We must build a broader movement that will hold political parties and politicians accountable. Our problem is that we can’t rely on courts only,” said Jonas who was fired in April after the cabinet reshuffle.

Former Deputy Finance Minster, Mcebisi Jonas at the civil society protest in Cape Town. Pic by Mzi Velapi

Speaker after speaker called on the Members of Parliament to vote in line with their conscience and put South Africa first. This was after the announcement by Baleka Mbete today that the motion of no confidence in President Zuma will be done via a secret vote on Tuesday.

Bettie Fortuin from an organization in De Doorns that organizes women farmworkers, Women on Farms, said that the MPs must not forget who voted for their party to be in power. Tsepo Motsepe from Equal Education said that the Gupta family demonstrated how to steal a country by stealing a president of the country. “We have a family that came with nothing but right now they dictate to ministers,” said Motsepe.

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Cosatu provincial secretary, Tony Ehrenreich said that if the MPs do not vote President Zuma out, they will remove them with Zuma.

Most of the speakers emphasized that no matter what the outcome of the motion of no confidence they will continue to mobilize up until their demands are met, that this protest was just the beginning.

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