The following speech was delivered today by DA Federal Leader John Steenhuisen in Doornkop, Mpumalanga.
Fellow Democrats, fellow South Africans
If you’ve come out here today to listen to the DA’s offer ahead of the upcoming elections, it means you are most likely an engaged citizen. You’re an active participant in the democratic process of your country.
It means you are the type of person who cares about your neighbourhood and your community. The kind of person who is concerned about what the future might hold for your family.
And it shows that you’re not only aware of the problems here, you also want to be part of the solution.
By coming out here to listen to what the DA can do for this Steve Tshwete Local Municipality – and specifically for your community here in Doornkop – you have already taken the first step towards fixing what is wrong here.
I hope I will give you some of the answers you are looking for today, because I can assure you there is a DA government just waiting for the opportunity to step into office here and tackle each and every issue that makes your life hard.
There is a DA government-in-waiting here that wants to do for Steve Tshwete Local Municipality what other DA governments have already done for many other municipalities across the country
All we need is the go-ahead from you.
I know how poorly you have been treated by your current local government. I have seen for myself the neglect of this area.
I have spoken to my DA colleagues here about the massive service delivery issues that have plagued the communities of Doornkop and Mampimpane for years now.
I know all about your ongoing battles to secure reliable running water. About the insufficient taps far from homes.
I know about the water tanks that are meant to be filled by contractors appointed by the ANC government, but are often left empty for days, even weeks, at a time.
I know about the poor water quality, and of the long distances some of you have to walk to collect water in containers.
These things are not right. Your local government has had 27 years in which to sort this out, and yet here you are – no closer to having your water issues sorted out than you were two decades ago.
Of all the basic services a local government is meant to deliver, clean drinking water is surely the most important. It is so important that it is written into our Constitution as a human right. They have to supply it to you or they will have failed in their Constitutional duty.
It is entirely unacceptable that so many communities across our country continue to be plagued by poor access, and in many cases no access, to water when this is not the fault of a drought.
If a local government cannot guarantee this basic human right – if it cannot install the taps, fix the pipe leaks, maintain the infrastructure and replace the stolen cables – then it has no business being in government. Then it must make way for one that can do these things.
Because, let me tell you, it is not impossible. Every DA local government manages to do these things. In fact, even when the rains stayed away for years and Cape Town was faced with its worst drought in recent history, the DA government managed to keep the taps running.
And just yesterday I was in Modimolle, a town in Limpopo that used to have an ANC government until 2016, when a DA-led minority government took over. And the very first thing they did when they took office in 2016 was to start fixing the town’s water issues and dealing with the water infrastructure backlog.
That’s because DA governments understand that dignity and quality of life are impossible without access to water and other basic services.
And here I’m not talking about putting in a few standing taps along the road.
I’m not talking about a few water tanks filled every now and then by well-paid ANC cronies.
I’m not talking about water points that require residents to push wheelbarrows for kilometers to fill their containers.
I’m talking about clean, running water right near your home. That’s your right, and that is what a DA government will deliver.
And we will do the same for electricity provision. And refuse removal. And flush toilets. And street lights. And road resurfacing. All the things that will make your life here liveable.
But we will not stop there. Because, while the delivery of basic services is the main function of a local government, there is so much else that we can do for this community by just doing the basics right.
I know what a huge problem unemployment is around here. Since I arrived here I have spoken to many people about their concerns, and almost all of them have told me that the lack of jobs is the single biggest worry in their lives.
Mothers and fathers don’t know how to provide for their families and cannot get by on their small monthly social grants. Young people, who have never had a job, do not see a future for themselves here.
It’s a desperate situation, but it doesn’t have to be that way.
If you want to create job opportunities, you have to make it possible and easy for businesses to start up and keep their doors open.
No business wants to operate where they’re not sure whether there will be water or electricity the next day.
No business can function where the roads are in a poor state, or where the traffic lights and streetlights don’t work.
No business wants to take risks where the crime is high.
And importantly, no business wants to operate where the government cannot be trusted. Corruption is the biggest investment killer of them all.
And that is why Steve Tshwete Local Municipality is in such a terrible state, and has such a high unemployment rate. Through years of neglect, its corrupt and uncaring ANC local government has chased away new investments, and made it very hard for existing businesses to survive here.
Investors and business owners don’t care for the ANC’s struggle history or any of its supposed “good stories”. They make rational decisions, and that is why they stay away from places like this.
The only way to start attracting new businesses here is by firing that local government and replacing it with one that understands what it takes to breathe life back into the local economy.
It is no coincidence that the only outright DA-run metro in the country – The City of Cape Town – has by far the lowest unemployment rate in the country.
It is no coincidence that the only outright DA-run municipality in Gauteng – Midvaal – has by far the lowest unemployment rate in Gauteng.
The simple and undeniable fact is this: More people find work in DA-run cities and towns because the cities and towns themselves work. While businesses are fleeing ANC-run towns, DA-run towns have opened their doors to business and are attracting new investments all the time.
This is because the DA is obsessed with lifting as many people as possible out of poverty and into jobs. We know that the only sustainable way to live a life of dignity is through earning an income.
Now this doesn’t mean that there is no place for social grants. There will always be a need for a social safety net for poor citizens, and the DA will fight to protect this safety net and ensure that everyone who needs it can access it.
But we also know that you will never truly get ahead in life when you depend on a small grant. Our mission is to free as many people as we can from that dependency, and give them the freedom and independence that comes with employment.
Once you do that – once you get young people working – you not only change those individual lives forever, you also fix so many of the bigger problems in the community: drugs, alcohol abuse, crime, teenage pregnancies – all these things start improving as more people step into jobs.
And that is what we want for your community here in Doornkop.
Now I know many other parties will also promise you jobs if you just vote for them. But you need to be smart when it comes to these promises. You need to decide whether those are real, achievable goals, or just election fantasies.
Both the ANC and the EFF seem to think that government can just snap its fingers and create millions of jobs. Their manifestos and their posters make those wild promises without any explanation of how they intend to do so.
The reality is that government cannot create jobs. Not sustainable, long-term jobs. And certainly not the scale that we need.
So when parties come to you with promises of government jobs for everyone, know that they are just making things up. They cannot ever deliver on those promises.
But if you look at the DA’s manifesto, every single pledge in there is anchored in the real world, and backed up by a track record of things we’ve already done.
We don’t promise the sun and moon, and then forget about those promises until the next election. We only promise what we know we can deliver. And when you look at the places we already govern, you know we keep our promises.
That’s all that matters when you go to the voting station on the 1st of November to choose your local government: Does this party do what it says it will do? Does it get things done?
There is only one party in South Africa that can answer yes to those questions, and that is the Democratic Alliance.
So help us bring progress to this municipality, and here to Doornkop.
Help us bring clean water, reliable electricity, dignified sanitation and the kind of good clean governance that attracts business and creates jobs.
By opening your mind and listening to this message today, you are already halfway there. Now, let’s finish the job on 1 November.
Go out and vote for a DA government that gets things done.
Viva, DA! Viva!