Note to Editors: The following speech was delivered today by DA Leader, Mmusi Maimane, at the party’s Gauteng East campaign launch in Germiston, Ekurhuleni.
My fellow South Africans
Yesterday afternoon, at the end of the working week when everyone was going home, I received an email with a letter from President Ramaphosa to the Speaker of Parliament. In this letter he tried to explain how half a million Rand that we all thought was suspiciously paid from Bosasa to his son, was actually paid from Bosasa to his own campaign for ANC President.
Remember, Bosasa is a company that landed billions of Rands of government contracts. If the money had been for his son, it would be a massive conflict of interest at best. But the fact that the money was for the President himself makes this far, far worse.
This looks suspiciously like all other ANC government corruption deals: A company pays money to a politician or the party in exchange for contracts, often at massively inflated prices. But they never pay it directly to the politician or party – there’s always a third party or a trust account in between. Which is what appears to have happened here too.
This goes beyond just campaign financing. This is a kind of insider trading – where a company “invests” heavily in a candidate, knowing that it will pay off multiple times over if the candidate is successful through preferential treatment when it comes to tenders. No wonder the President didn’t declare this payment – it’s dirty money.
And Ramaphosa is not the only one to have scored here. A long list of ANC ministers and other cadres of the party received extensive security upgrades like CCTV cameras, alarm systems and electric fencing free of charge from Bosasa. This list includes Gwede Mantashe, Nomvula Mokonyane, Thabang Makwetla, Dudu Myeni, Linda Mti, Mbulelo Gingcana and Vincent Smith.
The fact is the President had a week and a half to think about how to explain this money since I asked him about it in Parliament last week. Initially he claimed he knew about his son’s work for Bosasa – he even said he’d seen the contract. But since I asked to see that contract, he has decided to come clean and admit the money was actually for him.
He now wants us to believe he knew nothing of the money at the time it was paid. Just like he knew nothing of the Guptas and of State Capture, and of the looting at our State Owned Enterprises for the entire time that he was Deputy President and Chair of the ANC’s Deployment Committee.
That’s not a good enough answer. He needs to tell us – and he needs to show us – exactly how much money he received from Bosasa, and what Bosasa got in return. Plus he must still show us his son’s contracts with Bosasa along with details of the money paid to him. There has to be a full investigation into this matter.
The President keeps telling us about this new dawn, but the further we get into his presidency the more it looks like the old dawn – the South Africa where Presidents and their sons, along with their friends and families and cronies, end up with money that’s not theirs. The South Africa where those close to the ruling party are set for life, and those without the right connections are left out in the cold.
I don’t need to tell you about this divided country. Many of you experience it every single day. South Africa, under the ANC, has become a country of economic insiders and outsiders. If you’re on the inside – if you have connections to the ANC – then the opportunities will open up for you. And if you’re on the outside, then you will simply fall further and further behind.
Nowhere do you see this more clearly than in ANC municipalities. As the ruling party, they hold all the power over people’s lives. They control who gets an EPWP job and who doesn’t. They control who gets moved up the housing list and who gets overlooked. They control which areas get services and development and which areas remain neglected. And they control who gets access to lucrative tenders and contracts.
Insiders and outsiders. This has become their very reason for being in government. It stopped being about service to the people a long time ago. It’s now only about consolidating power and using this power to become wealthy.
Now consider what the ANC and the EFF adopted in Parliament on Thursday. When they teamed up to vote for a recommendation that section 25 of the Constitution be amended to allow for the expropriation of land without compensation, they were voting for the same corrupt patronage system perfected in municipalities, but on a massive scale.
If this plan goes ahead, the ANC will have rigged the economy in favour of those with political connections, effectively locking the rest of the people out. All the power to decide who gets access to land and who doesn’t will rest in the hands of the very people who perfected the evil of patronage politics.
We’ve seen what happens when parties grab hold of this kind of power. We’ve seen it north of our border in Zimbabwe, and we’ve seen it across the Atlantic in Venezuela. Claiming to act on behalf of the poor, these power hungry governments destroyed their countries and caused millions to flee to neighbouring countries to escape the crushing poverty that followed.
This is what was voted for in Parliament on Thursday. And the ANC did not do this on their own either. It wasn’t even their plan. It was hatched by the EFF – a party with absolutely no idea how to grow the economy and create jobs, and absolutely no concern for the people whose lives they destroy. A year ago the ANC wanted little to do with this plan, but today they are inseparable from the EFF. They have outsourced their entire policy on land to a violent, radical fringe party with barely 6% of the vote.
What we’re seeing developing between the ANC and the EFF is a realignment of politics. These two parties, that started out as opponents, have now coalesced around certain principles and certain behaviours. They have coalesced around nationalisation, whether this is of land, the reserve bank or healthcare. They have coalesced around race and racial nationalism, creating a society of “us” vs “them”. And they have coalesced around corruption – for the EFF it was VBS and for Ramaphosa and the ANC it was Bosasa, but it’s the same thing.
It is good that their coalition is out in the open, because the people must know what a party stands for and what they get when they make their cross next to that party. They must know that, in the ANC/EFF alliance they get a party that believes the state must own and control everything, a party that believes in racial division and racial mobilisation, and a party that will support and hide each other’s corruption.
In the DA, on the other hand, the people will get a party that places citizens, as individuals, at the centre. A party that believes in cherishing and protecting the Constitution, a party that believes in a market-based economy, a party that stands for non-racialism and a party that does not tolerate corruption in any shape or form. That is the distinction.
Fellow South Africans, we cannot carry on down the road that leads to a divided country. We cannot give in to the populists whose only reason for being in power is to amass more power. South Africa deserves much more than that. If we want to turn our country around – if we want to breathe life into our economy and create jobs for the almost 10 million South Africans who can’t find work – then all of us are going to have to work together. One nation pursuing one common goal.
There is only one party trying to build this South Africa. There is only one party that speaks for all and serves all the people of our country. There is only one party that can bring the change that builds one South Africa for all, and that party is the Democratic Alliance.
When parties like the ANC and the EFF come here and tell you that they are on the side of the poor, don’t take their word for it. Ask them exactly how their policies will help the poor. How will they lure investment? How will they support enterprise? How will they create jobs? Just saying you’re on the side of the poor is not enough. Chavez of Venezuela said this too. Mugabe of Zimbabwe said this too. And look what they did to their people.
Ask for details. Ask for proof. Look at their track records. And then look at the DA’s track record. In a country with the highest youth unemployment in the world, the most important consideration should be a government’s ability to help create jobs. In the past year, the DA-run Western Cape created more jobs than the other eight ANC-run provinces combined.
That’s the DA difference. And that’s what we can do here in Gauteng too, if enough people turn their backs on the destructive populism of the ANC/EFF alliance and give the DA a chance.
And while you’re looking at track records, have a look at the DA’s record on land reform. There’s a reason why only 10% of land reform projects work under the ANC, but 60% of land reform projects work under a DA government. It is because we are serious about real, sustainable empowerment of people, and not only the quick wins that come with populist promises.
We don’t need a Constitutional amendment to restore land to the people. We only need the political will to do so. Our Constitution already allows for effective land reform. Section 25 of the Constitution is far more than just a defence of existing property rights. It is also a mechanism through which the disempowered and the landless can be economically empowered through property ownership. Destroying this section of the Constitution will destroy economic empowerment.
Fellow South Africans, in six months’ time, each of you will get the opportunity to decide which South Africa you would like to be part of – which South Africa you would like to build and leave behind for your children. You can either choose a divided South Africa of insiders and outsiders under the ANC/EFF alliance, or you can choose one safe, prosperous and inclusive South Africa for all under a DA government.