Forcing politicians to use public services will make a difference

Dear President Jacob Zuma and leader of the opposition Helen Zille,

We of the September National Imbizo have written this open letter to both of you because you represent the main political parties in our country. If your parties care for the wellbeing of the people then both of you should agree on these proposals to save our country from the ongoing crises of service delivery.

We do not have to repeat the ­simple fact that for the past 18 years both your parties have failed dismally to alleviate the brutal conditions of the poor.

The imbizo believes that the many problems of lack of service delivery, poor service to the people and the general neglect of the public sphere are the result of a political system that allows the elected ­representatives of the people to divorce themselves from the people who elected them. 

The imbizo fails to understand the logic of public representatives who are mandated by the electorate to serve the public but instead abandon the public sphere and migrate to the private sector — where everything works because it is for sale and those with money can buy what should be public services.

Hellish existence
We believe that it is only when politicians and public servants are compelled by law to use public services that we will get people out of their current hellish existence. 

Our politicians and public servants have neglected public services because they know they can take themselves and their families to the private sector. We say: what is good for you is good for us. Equality for all, for real!

Our hospitals are falling apart; doctors and nurses are overworked and underpaid. Most public hospitals are places of death. Our leaders, politicians, senior public servants and their families use private hospitals, which is why they do not care about public hospitals.

Our public schools are in bad condition, teachers are underpaid and the government is not investing in their training, with the result that after 12 years of schooling most child­ren from public schools cannot read, write or count.

This leads to high unemployment among the youth, who are trapped in hopelessness. Politicians and senior civil servants send their children to private schools, so public schools are not a priority for them.

New laws
Our public transport system is appalling. Every morning and night our people are packed into taxis, buses and trains like sardines. The queues are long and the fares are high. Our leaders, the rich and senior civil servants have big subsidies for private transport. Some of our ministers can buy cars worth millions with public money.

The townships are generally badly serviced. The houses are small and millions are forced to live in shacks. The RDP houses built by our black government are worse than the matchbox houses built during apartheid. Our leaders live in mansions, while the people are forced to live in rat-infested townships.

We therefore publicly demand that you convene the National Assembly and draft a new law ensuring that politicians and public servants use public services.

This law would make it a crime for any politician or public servant to use private services. We propose you start with education, healthcare, transport and housing.

For more on the social movement September National Imbizo (SNI), go to Imbizosni.blogspot.com

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