HUMAN RIGHTS SHOULD NOT ONLY MEAN POLITICAL FREEDOM: PINE PIENAAR

It is interesting that in South Africa Human Rights are often perceived as certain fundamental political rights pertaining to racial equality and the right to vote. I cannot blame people for having such a narrow view of human rights if we take into account our recent tainted history of inequality under apartheid. We should not however, forget that human rights encompass civil and political rights as well as economic, social and cultural rights.

If any independent observer analyses the way the Eastern Cape Government neglects its people economically, socially and culturally, the only logical conclusion one can come to is that the human rights our citizens are being neglected. ANC policy and maladministration simply do not give the poor peoples of the Eastern Cape the opportunity to take charge of their own lives and make the most of their potential.

The Democratic Alliance has a vision for the Eastern Cape that will grow the economy through a new economic policy to give the common man dignity and real human rights. I foresee a future in which the government and the private sector work together in partnership to grow an economy ripe with opportunities. I have given loads of examples in the past of how this can be done with the Extended Public Works Programmes and other projects proposed by my party.

Millions of unemployed people can never enjoy human rights, no matter how many political or legal rights they have. A hungry person with the right to vote is still hungry. A person who dies of hunger might have died with political rights, but he or she would have died without opportunities.

South Africans who have been denied access to jobs and life changing opportunities are not citizens with human rights. The DA’s vision is that every South African has the opportunity to move forward to a more prosperous future. In doing so they not only improve their own lives and the lives of their families, but they reinvigorate our nation as a whole.

What do we say should happen to grow the rights of our citizens? We say South African policy-makers should not only respond to the immediate problems caused by our financial situation, but go out of their way to improve the productivity of our workforce and facilitate further investment in the productive capacity of our economy.

In partnership with private sector contractors, the Expanded Public Works Programme will be used as a mechanism for skills development and will be focused specifically towards those on the sidelines of our economy while our opportunity vouchers will allow our young matriculants to pursue self employment opportunities or further study.

The failures of Eskom, SAA and other public enterprises are suppressing service delivery and provide clear evidence that South Africa’s government does not have the capacity for further involvement in the economy. Here in the Eastern Cape the failures are massive and embarrassing. We need to work harder and use our resources to make sure that those left remaining on the sidelines of our community are assisted with every possible opportunity to take charge of their own lives, and provide for South Africa’s future economic prosperity, and gain back real human rights.