Speech by Honourable Mninawa Mahlangu, Chairperson of the NCOP during the debate on Taking Parliament to the People Programme: Limpopo

17 August 2010

House Chairperson

Once more to respond to the debate, allow me to start with this quote which I remembered when people had been debating here. This reminded me of Reverend Luther King, Jr. He said:

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave-owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood...
I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the colour of their skin but by the content of their character. I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight. And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and the flesh shall see it together. I have a dream.

That is what Luther King, Jr. said and he was addressing thousands of Americans when he wanted them to be delivered from slavery in the United States of America those days, young as he was. I think we are very fortunate in South Africa that we have achieved the dream that we had always wanted to achieve, and we have it, and we are lucky that we did it without shedding a lot of blood. We did it by ourselves, without actually being tearing each other into pieces although there had been casualties along the way.

What I want to say today, as long as I am in this leadership position and other people of the National Council of Provinces, we will commit ourselves to work tirelessly for the people of South Africa who have worked with us on the ground for their benefit, to make their lives much better. In leadership positions such as we hold, the significant problems we have today cannot be solved at the same level of thinking which some people created them in the past. We have to have different thinking today. We need a generation that can think differently. We need a generation that can channel things differently. We need a generation that can say here are the communities of South Africa; they are looking upon us.

The hope of the Christians is Jesus Christ, that one day they will be in heaven. The hope of the communities of South Africa are the politicians who are seated here, that one day they will benefit from what they are doing, the laws they are making, the service delivery that is taking place, nothing else than that.

Therefore, Honourable members, we cannot come into the House like this and be negative all together as Members of Parliament and throw the table and say there is nothing we can do. Everything is bad, and everything is above our shoulders, and all we can do is stand here and lament and cry like small babies and children, without coming with a new thinking, new objectives and goals, that our people can achieve in this country, South Africa, that we all so love. I think I should say again that we are blessed.

When you want to improve in this world, never be negative in your life. When you want to improve this world, change your attitude and associate yourself with those people who can think better and make the lives better for other people. You are here not because you are very important, but you are here because the people thought you can make their lives better. That is the reason we are here, and that is why we have to do this job. Never mind the workload that we are having; we have to carry it. Never mind how heavy it is; we have to carry it until such time we can say that we have achieved what we wanted to achieve. We will work for the people of South Africa, whether they are in KwaZulu-Natal, Free State, North West, Gauteng, or Mpumalanga. The commitment should be: We will achieve those things; nothing is above our shoulders.

Therefore, I want to say to you all today that we shouldn`t be lamenting, but we should be coming with the problems and stand here today and say what it is that the NCOP can do to change the things in terms of co-operative governance, like Umtwana Prince Zulu is saying. What can we do to work together? The colour doesn`t matter in this case. Sexism does not matter in this case. When you are hungry, you are hungry. When you are sick, you are sick. When you have to travel, you need the road, and it does not matter who you are. All those things need us, as politicians, to address them and one day stand tall and be proud and say that during the term of our service, we have been in a position to achieve these things. I thank you all for contributing during this debate, and we will continue to lead and lead and lead until we achieve the results that we want.

I thank you!