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If there was a way in which what I have written in this book could be done tomorrow, I would have it done instead of writing a book. This is because the issues about which I write, the poverty, unemployment, crime, violence and corruption are so serious that urgent action is needed.
But we are a democracy, not a dictatorship. Everything is contested, even the most righteous thing. It is in the package of democracy that those who want change have to place their ideas in the public square and attempt to influence the views of as many fellow-citizens as possible.
In addition to putting my own views and proposals in this book, I also commit myself to working with like-minded people to make them happen.
Manifesto is also hugely influenced by my own life experiences from when I was a child. The things I saw and went through in my younger years had a profound impact on my outlook, and have shaped the person I have become. The ideas I share are also influenced by what I have learned in my adult life, through study, work and travel.
I share more reasons why I think what I think, and write what I write, here
Although my certificate of baptism, the only official recognition of my arrival in this world, says I was born on 27 December, my mother and grandmother insisted I was born on 28 December. Such was common in Mqanduli, Eastern Cape, where I was born and raised.
I was the first grandchild of Christopher and Lynette Zibi of the Radebe and Hegebe clans respectively. They raised and shaped me. They were salt of the earth people, hard-working, fully participative members of our village, Zwelitsha Location.
They raised livestock and planted crops, skills I had mastered by the time I was 12yrs old. My school, Phangindlela Junior Secondary School still stands, without running water inside the buildings. As boys we had to use buckets to fetch water for the school vegetable garden at the nearby Mgomanzi River (a stream really).
When I passed Standard 7 (Grade 9) and went to boarding school, St John’s College in Mthatha, I got my first taste of the real world. The dormitories and ablution facilities were extremely dilapidated. We hardly had any hot water to shower with, while the lights in the corridors and bathrooms never worked for the entire time I was there. I can go on and on.
I experienced another culture shock when I went to All Saints College in Bhisho, which had all the facilities – and the teacher-to-student ratio was 24 instead of 75 at St John’s College. Although I was grateful and the experience had a very positive impact on my academic and intellectual outlook, it also taught me what I had been missing out on all my life.
It pains me that these disparities still exist, and are often worse. I want a different country to live in, and that country won’t exist if we do not fight to create it.
SONGEZO ZIBI has more than 20 years of corporate experience, during which time he has been a communication and corporate affairs professional and a leader in diverse industries. Prior to joining Absa as the Head of Communications, he was the editor of Business Day. As a journalist and editor, Songezo has written extensively about South Africa’s political system, economy and social dynamics. Since 2007 he has been a consistent and recognised voice for accountability, good governance, nation building and for the creation of a dynamic, inclusive economy. In January 2022, he announced the launching of Rivonia Circle, a think tank that will give birth to innovative and more effective ways of political participation. Manifesto is his second book, following on from the acclaimed Raising the Bar: Hope and Renewal in South Africa (2014).