The sound of hooters blaring and people’s cheers filled the streets of Durbanville on Freedom Day, April 27, as a group of residents were seen rallying support from motorists, as they waved their South African flags.
Members of South Africa First Forum (SA1st) held pickets across the city on the 22nd anniversary of Freedom Day, which marked the first time all South Africans could vote in 1994.
The pickets aimed to mobilise South Africans to become active in demanding a change in the socio-political status quo and insist on ethical leadership for the country, driven by the Constitution, Bill of Rights, and the rule of law.
Former senior ANC MP Vytjie Mentor co-ordinated the picket in Durbanville.
“We became concerned about the direction the country was heading, following the ruling of the Constitutional Court over the Nkandla matter. We as SA1st are of the opinion that the president and the ruling party does not respect South Africans.”
Ms Mentor says the country is currently experiencing a Constitutional crisis.
“We want politicians who put the country first and who respect and uphold the Constitution. The politicians and political parties come around once every five years when its time to canvas votes,” she said.
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SA1st members wore white T-shirts as a symbol of newness and for change. Naeem Frances, co-ordinator of the Durbanville picket, said this was an opportunity for ordinary South Africans to rise up and take a stance.
“We need to do something now, we can’t just sit back and wait for change to come. We are calling on South Africans to take action, not only today but going forward.”
He said the country’s Constitution is ranked among the highest in the world but adds that this means nothing, as it is not being implemented.
“We want a system where you vote for the president directly and not for a party. We need people who can be held accountable and who are appointed by the people.”
He added: “I want South Africans to use their vote wisely in the upcoming municipal elections and not to vote based on history, but to put the country and the needs of its people first.”
SA1st initially only planned to hold 11 pickets but as word spread rapidly on social media, the demand grew to 21 pickets across the city.
“The support and the turn-out has been so good. We have about 500 people taking part in the pickets. If we managed to only reach one person, then we would have succeeded but the turn-out surpassed our expectations,” Mr Frances said.
De la Haye resident Manina Smith, 85, was one of the oldest residents to take part in the picket. She gave up the comfort of her home to ensure her voice was heard on Freedom Day.
“I came out today because I am disappointed with our current leadership. We supported the ruling party for most of my life but I cannot continue to just stand by as our country goes down.”
Bellville resident Daphne Kayster says her family has always been involved in politics and that’s what prompted her to support the picket.
“I feel very strongly about the direction in which the country is going. I am embarrassed by our current leadership. We fought for a better life. We need to put the country first and uphold the Constitution.”
Mr Frances says the forum is calling for a new system as the current one has failed the people of the country. “We want to start on a clean slate. There are more than enough resources but the basic needs of citizens are not even being met.”
He added: “I have been designated to take the mobilisation of the youth further.
“We need to raise awareness among the youth as they are the leaders of tomorrow.”
Durbanville resident Peter Huysamer rallied motorists and by-passers to show support for the picket. He says he is tired of corrupt leaders who are not being held accountable.
“I firmly believe that initiatives such a this can bring about change and that is why I am here today.”
SA1st prides itself on being a non-political, non-sectarian, and non-sexist group.
They describe themselves as committed and passionate South Africans who are motivated by ethical leadership, morality, governance, justice and equality. The forum seeks to create a future where the country and its people are prioritised by ensuring the Constitution is respected and upheld.