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Ramaphosa betrayed Tintswalo, says Steenhuisen

DA leader John Steenhuisen says he never claimed perfection, but they are further ahead than any city or province in terms of governance. File photo.
DA leader John Steenhuisen says he never claimed perfection, but they are further ahead than any city or province in terms of governance. File photo.
Image: Freddy Mavunda

DA leader John Steenhuisen says President Cyril Ramaphosa's administration betrayed “Tintswalo” and her dream.

In his state of the nation address (Sona) on Thursday night, Ramaphosa narrated an analogy of Tintswalo, a child born at the dawn of South Africa's democracy in 1994 who benefited from the ANC government’s policies — from free primary healthcare to free education, water, electrified homes and welfare grants.

But Steenhuisen, continuing the story of Tintswalo in parliament, listed some of South Africa’s growing problems — load-shedding, unemployment, crime and corruption and their impact on her life and those of millions of citizens.

“There is no doubt the South Africa she grew up in after 1994, was a hopeful place,” said Steenhuisen. “It was a place built on the South African dream: the promise that her life would be better than the life of her parents, and that her children’s lives would be better still.”

Steenhuisen said Ramaphosa only told the story of Tintswalo’s start in life during the 1990s and the 2000s.

“It was far from perfect, but it was a time of hope and possibility. But Tintswalo’s life story does not end after childhood. Today she is a 30-year-old woman. She has entered the next phase of her life, as a wife, a mother and a provider.”

He said over the past decade, Tintswalo has watched with growing horror as the dream of her childhood was betrayed. Her social consciousness started to develop during high school as she watched the ANC elevate a man accused of corruption and rape to the highest office in the land.

“She grew steadily more disillusioned when she found out that R246m in public money was used to build a fire pool and chicken coup for the president [Jacob Zuma] at Nkandla, even as many people around her sank deeper into poverty. And she watched as the ANC members of this house [National Assembly] protected him.”

Here is the hard truth, Mr President, whether you like it or not: you have betrayed Tintswalo’s South African dream

After graduating from a TVET college in 2015, he said, Tintswalo realised she was not alone in her growing unease about the future. She could not stomach the idea of voting for the ANC after it unleashed Jacob Zuma, state capture and load-shedding on her country. But in 2018 her spirits lifted. She was delighted when the ANC ejected Zuma from the presidency in February that year.

“In fact, Mr President, in 2019 Tintswalo voted for you. Like many others, she did so for one reason: because she believed that you would restore South Africa to the path it was on when she was a child,” he said.

But her hopes were shattered again soon after, said Steenhuisen, as in the same year that Ramaphosa was elected, she lost the first and only job she ever had, because the load-shedding crisis that Ramaphosa had promised to end shut down the factory where she worked.

She was forced to move into a tin shack on the outskirts of the city, returning to the same life of poverty she thought she had left behind for good, he said. She has been unemployed ever since.

Steenhuisen said Ramaphosa’s administration broke all the lofty promises it had made of a New Dawn, including by protecting the president’s comrades implicated in state capture.

An angry Tintswalo, with her own baby, Esona, was no longer waiting for the ANC to change, he said. “She has accepted that it never will. She acknowledges the opportunities she got as a young person, which her parents never had. But she now thinks about the future of her own family above all else.

“She must survive in the reality of what South Africa is in 2024, not in the memory of what South Africa was in 1994.”

When Tintswalo listened to Ramaphosa during the Sona on Thursday, it did not make her grateful, as he may have hoped, he said.

“For here is the hard truth, Mr President, whether you like it or not: you have betrayed Tintswalo’s South African dream.

“Hearing the president speak about her life without acknowledging that the same people who once gave her permission to dream went on to shatter those dreams, only made Tintswalo more resolute that the time for change has come.”

Tintswalo is not only fighting to remove the ANC from power, Steenhuisen added, she intends voting for the DA.

TimesLIVE


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