We must continue to fight for liberal democracy across the globe

Note to Editors: The following statement follows the meeting of the 199th Liberal International Executive Committee (ExCom). The 13h30 press conference will no longer take place. 
Introduction
Over the weekend, under the banner of Liberal International, liberal political parties, from across the globe have gathered in Johannesburg for the 199th Liberal International Executive Committee (ExCom) meeting. This body came to Johannesburg at the invitation of the Democratic Alliance (DA) and its Federal Leader, Honourable Mmusi Maimane MP.
This gathering is represented by 108 delegates from 32 different countries are present for the ExCom meeting, among them are former ministers, parliamentarians, mayors, and party presidents. On the whole,  Liberal International represents 97 liberal and democratic political parties and affiliates from across the globe.
This meeting is significant, and takes place in a political environment where in the past decade the global political landscape has slipped dramatically towards populism and even extremism fuelled, in part, by growing intra-state inequality, diminishing opportunities, and a sense of democratic deficit.
Donald Trump’s victory in the 2016 US Presidential Election illustrates what can happen when a large contingent of a population feel excluded from the economy and from political institutions.
Without a growing and inclusive economy, and without independent political institutions that work, radical and regressive political bodies are fuelled by the frustration and discontent of citizens and are able to mobilise people based on their differences, rather than shared values.
This means that those of us at the moderate centre of politics need to work harder to reach all citizens who want a better future, with our message and universal values of Freedom, Fairness and Opportunity. Moreover, we need to work hard to ensure that populist politics – whether on the left or the right – does not prevail.
The rise of divisive nationalism that has re-emerged globally over the last few years threatens the hard fought progress the world has made over the last half a century. Progress towards universal human rights, international trade and cooperation, non-racialism and non-sexism. It is this progress which we must fight to protect.
We cannot allow the politics of “us” and “them” to divide us further along the lines of race, ethnicity, nationality, sex and gender.
Rather, we must strengthen the centre, in order for democratic societies based on the values of fairness, equality, and tolerance, to thrive and to be leaders in the world.
Adoption of the Johannesburg Declaration on Better Governance
At the centre of the ExCom meeting is the adoption of the Johannesburg Declaration on Better Governance – a practical benchmark to which liberals around the world can refer and one of the key themes enshrined in the Liberal Manifesto 2017 adopted in.Andorra.
Only liberal democracy can make sure that individuals and their freedoms are properly protected but we must not allow the abuse of our freedoms by those who oppose those very freedoms. With strong democracies that are able to defend themselves, we will actively protect our liberal values and democratic institutions against those who want to undermine and destroy them.
As a form of government, democracy makes it possible to hold those in power accountable for what they do. Accountability, in turn, is a key for a better government, and so are transparency and a sufficient decentralization of decision-making, which guarantee more direct participation and control of government by citizens.
Many people in the world suffer from a dismal level of professional governance in their respective countries and poor governance is often associated with corruption which is one of the most destructive elements in community life.
At all levels of government from the local to the global, we must strengthen our efforts to fight corruption, fraud and organized crime, and to generally improve the quality of governance through the implementation of our liberal principles of accountability, transparency, separation of powers, decentralization of decision-making, respect for the rule of law and an active civil society.
Liberal International Secretary-General Designate
It is a pleasure to announce that Democratic Alliance Member of Parliament and Shadow Minister of Energy, Gordon Mackay, is the incoming Secretary-General of Liberal International. It is the first time that someone from an African country will serve in this position. He takes over from Emil Kirjas who has held the post for 10 years
This appointment is both historic and symbolic given the DA’s longstanding relationship with Liberal International. The DA is the second-oldest Liberal International member party from Africa, joining in at the Tel Aviv congress in 1984, only the Senegalese PDS, which joined in 1980, has been a member for longer.
Gordon comes into this position with a wealth of experience and a strong commitment to liberal politics and the role it plays in bringing about positive change to people’s lives.
Prior to his election to Parliament in 2014, Gordon worked for the Office of Emergency Programmes of United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in New York and in Afghanistan where he was responsible for disaster and conflict risk analysis.
He speaks 3 languages, English, Afrikaans and German. He has recently started studying French with 50 hours of French under his belt.
Gordon holds a Master’s Degree in International Studies from the University of London and BA Honours Degree in Economics (cum laude). He is the recipient of various scholarships and academic prizes and has published in the area of labour economics and making financial markets work for the poor.
We wish him well on this new journey and believe that Liberal International will be enriched by his progressive and dynamic leadership.
President of Liberal International, Dr  Juli Minoves, who referred to the greatness of South Africa in a speech at the United Nations when the country rejoined the organisation in 1994, said: “We are proud to count the DA as a member of or global liberal family. In government, the DA is demonstrating the universal appeal of liberal values and that there is wide appeal for a credible alternative for South Africa.
The large presence of our global network is an unambiguous signal of the confidence we have in the DA’s opportunity to form a national government in 2019.
I commend the work of the Honourable Mmusi Maimane and welcome our new secretary-general, Gordon Mackay MP.”
Conclusion
 As Liberal International members, we walk away from this weekend with a new sense of direction and commitment to liberal democracy. It has been a festival of ideas marked by robust engagement and an awakening of our liberal values.
I close with a quote from John Locke, who profoundly stated “Being all equal and independent, no one ought to harm another in his life, health, liberty, or possessions.”