Johannesburg – National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete has hit out at anti President Jacob Zuma protesters, saying she was surprised that some of them even knew how to march.
Mbete was speaking at a mass funeral service in Mpumalanga for the 16 pupils and one adult who died in the horrific taxi crash in Bronkhorstspruit last month. Two other pupils will be buried tomorrow.
Twenty people died in the accident, including the taxi driver when the taxi crashed into a truck.
Addressing the mourners, Mbete made reference to the thousands of protesters who took to the streets in the wake of Zuma’s recent cabinet reshuffle that saw two ratings agencies downgrade SA to junk status.
She said the school children had died when South Africa was facing a difficult time where people whom “we have never seen” were calling for Zuma to go.
“[We are seeing] people that we did not know knew how to toyi toyi … marching out there saying Zuma must go. We are surprised that they even know how to [march]. In the name of these children, let us continue the work that OR Tambo and Nelson Mandela left us with when he died.
“When he and Mandela died they said we must continue to fix the roads, education and everything that is wrong among us,” said Mbete.
“Even if they march and realise that they too can participate in demonstrations, they forget that we are just as big as them, they are busy making noise.”
The spirit of Ubuntu
Using an analogy to address public disputes within the ANC, she said children should be taught that when there are problems at home and family members differ, “we do not go outside and shout to all the neighbours telling them that we do not get along in this household”.
“We do not do that. What we do when we are not getting along, we get in the house, fetch the uncles and aunts, talk about it and find common ground.”
She said Tambo left the ANC in alliance with Cosatu and the South African Communist Party.
“The alliance is important. South Africa needs it. We cannot as leaders destroy it because these little children need the alliance so that when they get older, they will find it in tact and take the country forward, not back.”
She said the death of the school children had shown leaders how to work together.
“An injury to one is an injury to all. That is what our leaders taught us, not that when you see one person swearing at another and then you join in. Condemn that behaviour.”
She told the gathering to tell Mandela and Tambo that the ANC was still alive.
“We as the governing party, which is going to continue to rule, we will not disappoint Oliver Tambo, we will not disappoint Nelson Mandela. When they look down on us from wherever they are, they must say to themselves, that is what we taught them, to move forward together,” said Mbete.
She also told the gathering that when a death occurs in a black community, people show the spirit of Ubuntu by visiting the family because that is what African culture dictated.
“You do this because it is the spirit of Ubuntu.”
She said even abroad in exile, comrades always remembered what they were taught back home.
“We would move the beds, place grass mats on the floor and then sit down, we would respect the souls of the departed.”
She said the children’s souls had gone to meet with Tambo and Mandela.
“[Tambo and Mandela] taught us that in good and bad times let us stick together and work together,” she said.