President calls on responsible campaigning ahead of general elections

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

President Cyril Ramaphosa has called on public representatives to campaign in a responsible manner as the country gets ready to hold its national and provincial elections in May. 

He said this when he, together with the presiding offers of Parliament, unveiled the inscriptions depicting the values of the Constitution at both the houses of Parliament on Tuesday. 

“As we hold our 6th democratic elections, let us do everything within our power to ensure that the will of the people prevails, and – beyond the election – to ensure that the process of governance is defined by openness, transparency and accountability. 

“I call on all of us as leaders and representatives of our people – as we embark on elections work and campaign for our different parties – to continue to observe these values and do or say nothing that will cause disunity among South Africans. 

“Let us all campaign responsibly and do our part to ensure free, fair and credible elections,” he said. 

The constitutional values and what they mean 

The President said citizens, and their representatives, who pass through the doors of the National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces, will be reminded of the fundamental principles upon which society is founded. 

Freedom and democracy, equality and diversity, unity and reconciliation are among several values that were written in bold letters on the steps of the National Council of Provinces as the President unveiled them just after midday. 

He said that each one of us will need to reflect on whether, through their daily actions, they advance or betray the cause of freedom and democracy. 

He said public representatives need to ask themselves whether they contribute, in their own way, to forging a society characterised by equality and diversity, unity and reconciliation. 

“Are we building institutions that promote openness and participation, oversight and accountability? 

“Are we pursuing a national programme that advances reconstruction and development? 

“These are the principles for which many in our country fought and for which many lost their lives. 

“The values that underwrite these inscriptions are reflected in the Freedom Charter, adopted in Kliptown in 1955,” he said. 

The President said the values contained in the inscriptions have universal appeal in that they are consistent with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and find resonance with the rest of progressive humanity. 

“These principles therefore not only bind us together as a nation, but they bind us to the peoples of the world. 

“It is significant that these principles are being inscribed on the steps of Parliament as we celebrate 25 years of a free and democratic South Africa.” 

The values contained in the inscriptions were best embodied by former President Nelson Mandela and struggle icon Mama Albertina Sisulu, and they did so with consistency and integrity, said the President. 

“They were fearless champions of equality, understanding that South Africa would never be free until the rights, opportunities and material conditions of its people would no longer be determined by their race. 

“They understood the other ways in which inequality was manifested.” 

How Parliament has fared, affirmed democratic values 

Earlier, National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete said Parliament has, since the advent of democracy, made defining decisions. 

This includes the passing of about 2 000 bills as part of building a new nation from the ashes of apartheid, to passing budgets worth trillions of rands that have shifted human development – from increased life expectancy, improved access to education and tripling higher education enrolments, to millions benefiting from housing, access to electricity, water and literacy programmes. 

“Parliament’s lows were reflected on. A lot of introspection was done. Parliamentary inquiries into incidents of State capture, corruption and serious maladministration were exposed. 

“Parliament held public processes towards appointments to State institutions such as the NYDA, the Public Protector and the SABC Board, to mention but a few,” Mbete said. 

She said Parliament has sharpened its oversight, including playing a key role in section 100 interventions. –