My fellow Democrats,
The best gift South Africans can receive this festive season is an assurance that 2018 will be better than 2017. That our country is headed for a better future, and that those responsible for the looting of the state are brought to book.
We now have a reason for precisely such news. On Thursday the deadline came and went for Jacob Zuma to make representations to the NPA regarding his 783 counts of corruption, fraud, money laundering and racketeering.
Now there can be no more delaying. The NPA has to announce the date of his first court appearance.
Like any charged criminal, Jacob Zuma must appear in court to have his charges formally put to him. I am calling on Shaun Abrahams to schedule this initial appearance to take place before Christmas this year. There is no reason why this should not happen.
In fact, any ordinary criminal would have had their charges presented in court before making any representations to the NPA. Why Jacob Zuma should be regarded as an extraordinary criminal still needs to be explained.
What we do know is that, according to Abrahams, all the evidence is still available for trial, and the witnesses would have been contacted by this week. So we are good to go. Let’s have that court date then, and let’s have it within the next three weeks.
South Africans deserve to head into the new year with some straight answers and a promise of swift justice.
Yesterday was great day for democracy in our country, but it was a truly awful day for the ruling party. Two separate Motions of No Confidence and one municipal-wide by-election later, and it has become clear that the political tide in South Africa has shifted a great deal.
In Johannesburg, the members of the Metro council said an emphatic No to the ANC’s attempts to remove Mayor Mashaba from office.
In Nelson Mandela Bay, the members of the Metro council said an emphatic No to attempts to remove Mayor Athol Trollip from office.
And in Metsimaholo in the Free State, the people of Sasolburg, Kragbron and Deneysville said an emphatic No to the idea of going back to an ANC government.
We are seeing a new chapter unfolding for our country – a chapter in which the ANC will play no role. It will be written by those who want what’s best for South Africa and can work together to make it happen.
In this new chapter, there will be no place for the corrupt and the dishonest. There will be no place for Presidents who serve the Guptas or for ministers who push through nuclear deals. There will be no place for fat cats in blue light convoys, like the Premier of this province.
There will be no place for public servants who run their towns into the ground, but still live it up like Hollywood celebrities. People like the Mayor of Madibeng, who just blew R100,000 in six months renting a luxury BMW while her municipality can’t even pay for water.
What we saw yesterday in Joburg, in Nelson Mandela Bay and in Metsimaholo were signs of this new post-ANC South Africa. It’s taken a long time to get here, but the movement for change will quickly gather momentum.
Democrats, you have an important role to play in writing this new chapter for our country. What you do, over the next 18 months, to bring our message of change to the people of the North-West will be of critical importance to our campaign.
Your job begins with the proceedings here at this Provincial Congress today. You are tasked with electing leadership that will not serve individuals or factions, or even the party. Your job is to choose leaders who will serve ordinary South Africans, and particularly the poor.
Once we have accomplished this, then the real work begins – then we must take our message into every community and convince the people that we have a plan that can pull South Africa back from the brink.
I am often asked what this plan is. People want to know what we will do differently from the ANC. Apart from not stealing and not wasting public funds, what steps will we take to boost the economy and create jobs?
There are many parts of our plan that will require time to be implemented and to bear fruit, like overhauling education and reducing the size of our bloated state. But there are a number of key interventions we can make straight away that will have a profound effect on our economy. And I’d like to mention six of them:
Number one: we must sort out our State-Owned Enterprises. And by sort out, I mean make a decision on which ones are strategic to us and which ones are not. Then we must sell the non-strategic ones, and appoint qualified, uncaptured boards to the strategic ones.
Number two: We have to reform our labour legislation so that it does not get in the way of job creation. Small and medium enterprises must create the bulk of the new jobs we need. To do so, they must be able to compete with big businesses and cannot be held to the same restrictive regulations.
Number three: We must change our approach to redress and empowerment. To be of any value, BEE has to be truly broad-based – it has to serve the 99%, not the 1%. One way to achieve this is through a redress fund – what I call a Jobs and Justice Fund – which will incentivise companies to fund new entrants into key sectors of the economy.
Number four: We have to fling our doors open to the rest of the world when it comes to trade and investment. This means reducing corporate taxes, abolishing exchange controls, removing trade barriers and establishing export processing zones. It also means better regional integration into Africa.
Number five: While we’re opening our doors to trade and investment, we must also do so for tourists. Yes, our country already does well from tourism, but we can do so much more if we made it easier for people to travel here. And we can start by issuing travel visas upon arrival.
And number six: We must immediately appoint a real head to the NPA. Not a puppet of the Presidency whose only job it is to shield his boss from the law. Someone who stands independent and who treats every citizen as equal before the law. Going forward, the power to make this appointment must be taken away from the President and handed to Parliament.
There are many more things we could do in the medium to long term, but these six steps can give an immediate boost to our country’s economy and help provide a new beginning for millions of South Africans.
It is clear that none of these steps will be implemented by the ANC, and so it will fall to a new government in 2019 to do so.
If anyone still thought 2019 was too ambitious a goal for a DA-led government in the Union Buildings, then yesterday’s developments in Joburg, Nelson Mandela Bay and Metsimaholo would have gone a long way towards erasing those doubts.
People are turning their backs on the ANC in great numbers. Whatever happens later this month at Nasrec – whoever they elect to replace Jacob Zuma – will make no difference at all. The ANC is already dead.
Our future lies in a post-ANC South Africa. A South Africa served by an honest, accountable and selfless DA-led government.
We are making history, and each of you in this room is part of this remarkable effort.
My fellow Democrats,