Madiba’s dream will come after 2019

This op-ed first appeared in the City Press on 22 July 2017
This past Tuesday we celebrated Mandela Day, and millions of South Africans committed 67 minutes of their day to selfless work in honour of an extraordinary man whose generosity of spirit and unshakable commitment to the common good of our nation were so powerful that the very thought of him produces visceral emotion from even the hardest of hearts.
For our 67 minutes, my wife Natalie and I chose to visit and assist Tumelo Home in Ivory Park, Johannesburg – a home that cares for mentally handicapped children.
Our time there served as a stark reminder of the deep levels of injustice in our society that result in many people being left behind.
I was quickly reminded that South Africa is still a deeply divided nation of insiders and outsiders, the cared-for and the forgotten. A nation of haves and have-nots.
It was Madiba’s dream to see this unjust system of insiders and outsiders dismantled.
In the solitude of his small cell on Robben Island, he dreamt of a united, reconciled and nonracial South Africa belonging to all who live in it.
He dreamt of a country where injustice would make us uncomfortable, a country in which we would unite and fight for each other’s future – regardless of the colour of our skin or the circumstances of our birth.
My visit to Tumelo Home reminded me that this dream of Madiba’s is still alive.
I witnessed staff members and volunteers selflessly serving individuals whom society has forgotten.
But it cannot be the role of the nongovernmental or nonprofit organisation sector to single-handedly change the fabric of our society.
It is going to take all of us. Government, civil society, business, religious bodies. All of us.
Mandela’s legacy cannot be reduced to 67 minutes of random acts of kindness once a year.
Mandela’s legacy speaks to a life spent fighting injustice and fighting for outsiders.
The dream which Madiba birthed has not yet come to fruition. In truth, his long walk has not ended and it is for us to take up the baton.
What he began is now ours to complete.
Hopeful for the future
We must ask ourselves why, after 23 years of democracy, millions of South Africans are still treated as second-class citizens.
We must ask ourselves why quality healthcare is reserved for a small handful, or why more than 100 children die every month of malnutrition.
The status quo which produces haves and have-nots is being perpetuated by a toxic mix of poor governance and grand corruption.
This injustice should shake us to our core. It should make us uncomfortable.
In fact, it must create within us a bias towards the poor, the disenfranchised, the jobless and the outsiders. It should birth within us all an obligation to create a just and fair society.
It is when we are all moved by a deep conviction to see change that change will come.
Today, South Africa is not fulfilling the dream Madiba envisioned for our nation in that lonely cell on Robben Island.
It appears we have lost our way, and that we have in fact become leaderless. Yet despite this, I remain hopeful for the future.
Because I am convinced there is another way, another option, a post-ANC South Africa.
A future in which we as South Africans are brought together on the basis of shared values, rather than race, religion, ethnicity or culture.
I am privileged to lead a political party that I believe can be an effective vehicle for bringing the change our country needs to get us back onto Madiba’s path.
Under my leadership, his dream is the DA’s mission, his steadfast values are our moral compass.
People are not naive.
And I believe that come 2019, South Africans are going to take a hard look around, and decide that change is needed.
A post-ANC coalition government will come to power in 2019 with one mission: to reignite the dream of 1994 and bring Madiba’s ethics into national government.
His values of reconciliation, freedom and social justice will infuse every decision we take.
We will work to build a growing, inclusive economy that can bring real, material improvements to people’s lives.
We will focus on getting the basics right, laying solid foundations for long-term success.
We will promote and respect the independence of our constitutional institutions.
We will appoint proficient leaders and hold them accountable. We will create fertile conditions for growing an inclusive economy that can transform our society.
We will build a capable state and a professional civil service.
We will develop the infrastructure needed to connect South Africans to each other and the world. We will fix the education system, and strive for excellence.
We will build a stronger social safety net for the poor and marginalised, but we will never give up on drawing them into the growing, thriving economy.
We will work to heal the injustices of the past. We will promote peace and human rights in Africa and the world.
And above all, we will fight for the outsiders, the disenfranchised and the forgotten in our society.
I do believe that, together, we can continue our collective walk to true freedom.