Ready to campaign, ready to govern.

The 2021 Local Government Elections are shaping up to be a historic turning point for South Africa. The stars are aligned for many municipalities across the country to finally free themselves from the ANC’s destructive grip and to start seeing progress under DA governments or DA-led coalitions.

The DA is ready to campaign and ready to govern. For the first time ever, we have registered a candidate in every single ward in the country. Our lists are submitted, our manifesto is written, our posters are printed, and we are ready to bring one powerful message to every corner of South Africa: the DA gets things done.

We have truckloads of evidence to support our claim that we are the only party in South Africa with a track record of delivery in government. Over the next seven weeks, we will tell the stories of our many governing successes, so that come election day, no one will be in any doubt as to which party they can rely on to get things done for them.

In recent newsletters, I have set out our governing successes in Midvaal, Kouga and Nelson Mandela Bay, and how the DA does more for young people than any other party. And we have many more good stories to tell, especially where the DA has had a full mandate to govern.

Voters can be sure that we will not be making the mistake again of going into coalition or governing arrangements with parties that do not share our four non-negotiable governing principles: commitment to the rule of law, nonracialism, a social market economy, and a capable state that delivers to all.

The DA is feeling extremely upbeat, and this at a time when the ANC’s cancerous policy of cadre deployment is destroying the party itself. It has turned their electoral process into an intense and protracted battle for who gets to steal rather than who gets to serve, leading to them missing the IEC’s deadline to register candidates in 93 of South Africa’s 257 municipalities.

The DA’s state of readiness and the ANC’s state of turmoil mean that this election, for the first time since 1994, is wide open, with the real prospect of widespread change in local governments from ANC to DA.

This will bring real material improvements to many people’s lives and some relief at this time of great suffering. It will also give the DA a golden opportunity to earn the trust of people in provinces other than just the Western Cape ahead of the 2024 general election, when South Africa needs the ANC swept from power if the country is to stop its downward hurtle towards a captured and failed state while there is still something left to save.

The Constitutional Court this week dismissed the IEC’s application to postpone the elections, ruling they must be held within the constitutionally mandated period, which is on or before 1 November 2021.

This is an important judgement and a great victory for democracy, for the Constitution, and for the DA, which fought hard in court for this outcome. It sets an invaluable precedent for upholding voters’ rights, no matter how inconvenient for the ruling party and the IEC.

Zambia’s recent successful election shows that campaigning and voting can happen safely if we follow all the precautions that we’ve become accustomed to taking, such as wearing masks, sanitizing, and social distancing.

But don’t be fooled. The real reason for the IEC’s application to delay the election had little to do with the pandemic and much to do with the fact that the ANC needs more time to get its house in order. Specifically, it needed the candidate registration process to be re-opened.

Yesterday, IEC chairperson Glen Mashinini, a Zuma appointee and ANC acolyte, announced that the candidate registration process will reopen on 20 September. This is purely for the ANC’s sake and is an opportunity that has never been granted before to other parties requiring a second chance, including the IFP and the NFP in 2011 and 2016 respectively.

The DA will oppose this plan in court. There simply cannot be one set of rules for the ANC and another for the rest of the country. Some people have argued that giving the ANC a second chance will be good for democracy. Yet one set of rules for everyone is the very essence of democracy, while ANC capture of democratic institutions to subvert their purpose from serving people to serving the ANC is the very antithesis of democracy.

As are the ANC’s attempts to capture and influence the judiciary. We know this has happened. ANC-deployed Judge John Hlophe is a case in point. But thanks to Dr Sydney Mufamadi’s testimony at the Zondo Commission in January, we now also know about the intelligence slush fund that was used for influencing judges, amongst other purposes. And we know from the ANC’s deployment committee minutes, subpoenaed by the Zondo Commission at the DA’s request, that the committee influenced the appointment of judges during a meeting in March 2019.

It is therefore possible that the ANC’s sudden withdrawal of its court action to have the candidate registration process reopened was due to a tip-off by a judge. Clearly, the ANC must have believed there was an easier route, namely that the election date could be reproclaimed and potentially shifted out by up to 5 days, giving the ANC-captured IEC a smokescreen to reopen the process.

Deploying loyal cadres to the IEC and the judiciary to serve the ANC by granting them special favours, is no different from deploying loyal cadres to the Department of Correctional Services to serve the ANC by placing compromised ANC cadres such as Jacob Zuma on medical parole, to ease factional tensions in the party. The DA is fighting this move, too.

The DA has fought cadre deployment and its implications for two decades, and we will continue fighting it with every mechanism at our disposal, because it is the root of South Africa’s rot.

But even if the ANC and IEC succeed in their bid to give the ANC another chance to register its candidates, the ANC’s finances and systems are in a mess and this will reflect in the election result just as will the DA’s state of readiness.

The DA is ready to assist all our voters and potential voters to register during the registration weekend which has now been announced for 18-19 September. We are ready to hang our posters and launch our manifesto. We are ready to tell our good stories. Most of all, we are ready to get things done for the people of South Africa.