South Africa stands at a vital crossroads in the country’s history. South Africans are at a point where we need to make some important choices.

After our liberation in 1994 we said never again. Never again shall our people’s freedom be constrained. And yet today we face a piece of legislation, the Secrecy Bill, which threatens that very freedom we fought for.

This bill will cover up corruption, will keep our citizens uninformed and will destroy the very fabric of our democracy by constraining our media and limiting our freedom of speech.

The terrible applications of this Bill are obvious. Consider for example what government officials could do with a housing list if there was no oversight. A government official could decide who gets housing as he pleases, without accounting to the people. He could assign houses to his family, friends or business partners, and no one would be able to expose his corrupt actions. We can never accept that.

Together we need to decide: Will we allow our freedom to be taken away from us, or will we stand up and fight for our freedom?

All patriotic South Africans, those who care about the wellbeing of our nation and the wellbeing of our children’s future, ought to stand up together and oppose this bill as a matter of conscience.

How often do we not hear about Ministers, their deputies and other officials spending millions of the people’s money on fancy hotels, chartered flights, mansions and other luxuries?

The harsh reality in South Africa is that even though we have won our political freedom, not all of our people have achieved economic freedom yet.

Economic freedom can only be achieved when there are enough jobs for all, when our schools and universities provide opportunities for our young people to educate themselves, when there is enough resources for people to start their own businesses and when our government is honest, transparent and free of corruption.

And so, we have to overcome two great challenges: We have to defend the freedom we already have – which means we have to stop the Secrecy Bill at all costs. But we also have to extend economic freedom to those who do not have it yet. We must free our people from the clutches of poverty.

If we stand together, we will overcome these challenges to leave our children a better country and a better future.

Wilmot James

Democratic Alliance

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