Future ‘in DA’s hands’ : The Herald

Bay reverend calls on youth to fight ‘own battle’ in Freedom Day message

A NELSON Mandela Bay religious leader yesterday told DA leaders the future of South Africa was in their hands and called on young people to stop clinging to the past but rather focus on the future.

The Pearson Street Congregational Church’s Reverend Bertram Swartz was delivering the sermon at the party’s Freedom Day celebrations at the Donkin Reserve in Port Elizabeth.

He was speaking to DA leaders including MPs Donald Lee and Annette Lovemore, MPLs Bobby Stevenson and Edmund van Vuuren, parliamentary candidates Andrew Whitfield and Nqaba Bhanga, Bay caucus leader Retief Odendaal and councillors.

“To the leaders in this party, may you know you are called for such a time. May you have sleepless nights because the future of this country is in your hands. May you have uncomfortable moments when you wrestle through God’s spirit, where you find yourself to do what is right for the people of this country.

“My dear friends, unfortunately we cannot celebrate yet because as the world looked to us 20 years ago, we need to look at ourselves and look at where we are and what went wrong.

“In my own mind I am wrestling [with the question], did freedom mean corruption? Did freedom mean the poor will become poorer? Did freedom mean we still will go from one office to another to be assisted? Did freedom mean coloureds will remain in one corner, blacks in one corner and whites in their own corner?”

Addressing about 300 DA leaders, members and supporters, Swartz said it was time for young people to fight their own battle instead of claiming victories of previous generations.

“I think the DA has a lot to reflect on, but not on the past but on where we want to take this country. We can’t cling to the past, we can’t hold on to what happened to my mother, her mother, and my father and his father,” he said.

“As young people, we cannot claim what happened to our previous generations, but we can claim the future. God is always changing us for the better – where everyone can be free, and inherit the freedom and the fruits of 20 years of democracy.”

Bhanga said that in many countries liberation movements had turned into oppressors, and the ANC had done the same.

Stevenson said South Africa could not boast of being free when many people still used bucket toilets. Lee said unlike in 1994 when the country was a winning nation, it was now the opposite of that.

There was also a DA Women’s Network candle-lighting vigil before the service was closed with the national anthem.