BOKAMOSO | South Africa must change buses, not just drivers

The following remarks were delivered by DA leader Mmusi Maimane at the Cape Town Press Club yesterday.

Ladies and gentlemen

Members of the Press

Fellow South Africans

A quarter of a century ago we began a journey towards freedom. We weren’t free yet. As Nelson Mandela articulated back then, we had merely achieved the freedom to be free.

But there we were, boarding the bus with all our baggage from the past and all our hope for the future, and we set off towards a free country. A place where individual rights would thrive, where men and women could find work, own their own property, build their own homes.

We were all eager travellers, excited about the journey. We all held on to hope.

However, twenty-five years later our journey has come undone. We have taken so many wrong turns, suffered so many bad drivers and hit so many potholes over the years that we are now completely lost and our bus can barely move.

This path has now brought us to a crossroads, and we have a choice to make: Do we remain on the same broken-down bus, on the same dead-end road, or do we change buses here?

Do we stick with the liberation movement that has stalled our economy and failed our people – as every liberation movement on this continent has done over the last half a century – or do we opt for change?

And it’s not only failed liberation movements that we are emulating. The ANC has now started borrowing from the Apartheid government’s playbook too. When the National Party ran out of money they introduced “prescribed assets” to boost their coffers. Ramaphosa’s ANC seems intent on doing the same.

Is this really the path we want to be on? Are we to believe that this broken-down ANC bus will reach a different destination by merely swapping drivers? Because nothing in its track record – or indeed the history of liberation movements – suggests that this is likely.

If we want a different outcome, we must go out and choose it.

Our history in South Africa has always been one of division. Between black and white. Between rich and poor. Between ownership and dispossession.

The struggle for liberation was meant to change this, but the reality is that we are busy repeating history. Over the past 25 years we have, once again, become two distinct South Africas.

On the one side are those born into the right circumstances – those who receive quality education, those with access to opportunities, those who participate in the economy, those who own their property, those who know the right people and have friends in the right party. The economic insiders.

And on the other side are the millions of South Africans who find themselves locked out of all these opportunities. These are the people without a head-start in life. Born into poverty, condemned to a failed education and cast out into a world of unemployment and hopelessness, they are economic outsiders.

Any government intent on building an inclusive, prosperous South Africa should make it their primary business to close the gap between these two groups. But after 25 years of ANC government, this gap is wider than ever before.

And it is widening because we have a government that deliberately puts up barriers between the insiders and the outsiders. A government that protects the employed at the expense of the unemployed and has turned its back on the most vulnerable in society.

Whether through legislation such as labour laws and the new National Minimum Wage, or through corrupt and criminal practices like jobs-for-pals and jobs-for-sex, this ANC government continuously builds walls between the haves and the have-nots.

If you happen to be born into the wrong South Africa, life is a continuous struggle.

Nearly four out of ten adults in the labour market can’t find work. Most of these people are under 30 years old.

And Reserve Bank data shows that the poor are getting poorer as real per capita income has fallen in the past 5 years.

Thanks to our runaway unemployment we are now the most unequal society in the world.

Half our households are headed by women, and most of these households are desperately poor.

14 million South Africans go hungry every day. One in five children is stunted due to malnutrition.

This is what the “other” South Africa looks like. The one not protected by unions or minimum wages. The one sustained almost entirely by meagre social grants.

The face of this poverty is still largely female, young, rural and black.

A child born into this South Africa will go to schools where she will be failed, over and over again. Failed by crumbling infrastructure. Failed by the lack of toilets and clean water. Failed by the lack of textbooks. Failed by massive class sizes. And failed by teachers who can’t and won’t teach the curriculum.

In this South Africa children will exit the Foundation Phase and reach Grade 4 without the ability to read with any comprehension. They will struggle through the grades and, if they’re lucky, they will see the inside of a matric exam hall. More than half won’t.

In this South Africa, the real matric pass rate, once you factor in drop-outs, is below 40%. And the chances of finding work after school, even lower than that.

My son started Grade 1 last week, and I took him to school on his first morning. As I saw him settle into his class, surrounded by the boys who will become his friends and peers over the next twelve years, I couldn’t help but think of all those children starting out in the other South Africa that morning.

Surely it must be our goal to give these children the same chance in life as my son and his classmates have. Surely we should be focusing all our efforts on building one South Africa from this fractured and divided country of ours.

I believe, with four months left until we go to the polls, that we have an opportunity to do just that. I believe our choice at this crossroads is simple.

We can either choose, once again, to reward the liberation movement and extend their mandate for another five years. Despite their failed track record in government. Despite their record of criminality and corruption. Despite their stated intentions for our economy. Despite the way in which they have welcomed the disgraced Jacob Zuma back into the fold. Despite returning, to their national list, the very same people who looted the state alongside Zuma.

Or we can choose a different path – a solution outside of the liberation movement. A solution that doesn’t require poor South Africans to sacrifice their future just to remain loyal to a liberation movement that failed to transition into a government

We can either look to the past and remain rooted in the past, or we can turn around and step into the future.

The reality is, we have almost run out of time to do so. And that’s why the election in May will be crunch time for our country. I know this is said about every election, but our situation has deteriorated to the point where our decision at the polls in May will have profound consequences for us.

If we want to pull South Africa back from the brink, then we are going to have to recognise and name our troubles for what they are.

We are going to have to remove the blinkers of lowered expectations and make a brutally frank assessment of our current path and trajectory.

This assessment has to recognise that unemployment, along with unfair access to scarce jobs, is the very core of our problems.

Every other challenge we have – poverty, inequality, crime, social unrest – can be solved if we can find a way to put more people into jobs.

Or, seen the other way round, if we can’t secure a dramatic turnaround in our unemployment rate, all our efforts to curb the other ills in our society will be in vain.

The ability of a party to enable and nurture job creation should be the make-or-break factor when choosing a government in South Africa.

And this is why Saturday’s ANC manifesto launch was such a red flag.

One year into his term and four months before the election, President Ramaphosa had the perfect opportunity to admit to South Africans the full scale of our problems, and to lay out a bold new route map for our way forward.

But he did neither of these things. Instead, he all but admitted defeat.

Why do I say this?

The most telling moment from his entire time at the podium was the number he put forward as his target for job creation: 275,000 per year, which is the number that emerged from his Jobs Summit in October of last year.

But let me tell you the two problems with this number:

Firstly, the ANC cannot achieve this. There is a bitter irony in the fact that the number of unemployed South Africans grew by almost exactly this same number – 278,000 – since Ramaphosa’s term as president began at the start of 2018.

During this time, nothing has changed to make growth and jobs more likely. If anything, the populist, economy-killing rhetoric has been ramped up. Yet we are now asked to believe that they are going to miraculously turn the tide on the jobs carnage.

The ANC can’t even stop our unemployment rate from going up, never mind bring it down.

But there is an even bigger problem with this number of 275,000: it’s not enough. In fact, it is not even close.

There are currently 9.8 million unemployed South Africans. Even if our labour force remained the same size it would take over 35 years, at Ramaphosa’s rate, to clear that number.

And of course, our labour force won’t remain the same size. The cohort of children entering our schools every year is over a million. And as they enter, a similar number exit on the other end and join the labour force, whether directly from school or via other routes.

That is why Ramaphosa’s best-case-scenario promise of 275,000 jobs per year – while completely unrealistic and unattainable – won’t even scratch the surface. We need far more than that.

There was a time, not so long ago, when the ANC was throwing around big jobs targets. In 2010 their magic number was 5 million jobs by 2020. Four years later, at their 2014 manifesto launch, Jacob Zuma spoke of 6 million job opportunities within five years.

Since then, the ANC’s jobs target has steadily come down as the gap between what we need to add and what we continue to lose grows wider and wider.

They know they cannot continue to speak of millions of jobs when we have a net loss of hundreds of thousands every year.

And this is why Ramaphosa’s jobs offer is nothing but a meek white flag in the face of the unemployment onslaught.

A commentator summed it well when he said the ANC’s manifesto is not about the long-term dream of our nation but rather about staying in power.

It’s a compromise on some issues, and a capitulation on others.

It doesn’t address the single biggest threat to our financial position: Eskom. Years of corruption, mismanagement and state capture has seen the utility’s debt rocket to over R400bn, with plans to increase this debt to R600bn over the next three years.

It continues to absolve the ANC from decades of land reform and land restitution failure, using land expropriation without compensation as a dangerous and damaging populist rally cry.

And it threatens us with prescribed assets which, along with plans to nationalise the Reserve Bank, will hammer the final nails in our economy’s coffin.

It’s not a manifesto, it’s a wake-up call to South Africans.

As we grapple with our own path forward, we could also do well to reflect on the situation in Zimbabwe right now. They too were asked to believe that a new leader of a failed liberation movement would steer them towards a different outcome.

And now they are discovering that a government runs on systems and not individuals. If those systems are broken, it doesn’t matter who is in charge.

This is the story of liberation movements and their splinter parties everywhere.

The ANC – along with every other so-called revolutionary party that has sprung up recently like mushrooms in the forest – desperately wants you to believe that you still need to be liberated from something or someone.

That’s all they know, and so they create imaginary enemies and wage imaginary wars. Their language, their ideology and their ideas got stuck a long time ago.

The more they fail at being a government, the more they will try to convince you that you need them for the struggle.

And, having destroyed the systems and the institutions that make up a government, they will ask you to put your hope and your trust in individual leaders – personalities whom they will try to elevate to icons.

But that’s not how a government works. That’s not how a capable state is built. If you want a better government, then you have to choose a better government.

I believe the DA is that government.

We have a vision – a dream – for our nation that is best expressed as One South Africa for All.

A nation united not only along racial lines, but economically too. Where we can unlock the potential of our people and give them the independence and freedom that comes with work.

Of course, we must ultimately aim to put everyone who wants to work in a job. But can you imagine what a difference it would make if we could start by putting a job in every home? At least one steady income in households where there were previously none.

Can you imagine how a job in every home would lift these households out of abject poverty and into a space where they have dignity and independence?

The DA can do this. I am not asking you to blindly believe me. I am asking you to look at our track record.

Over the past 12 months, 188,000 new jobs were added across the whole of South Africa. Of these, 95,000 came from the Western Cape. That’s over half the jobs from a province that represents less than one eighth of the population.

If you want to compare this number to Ramaphosa’s annual target of 275,000, the DA-run Western Cape produced more than a third of these jobs in 12 months. And remember, this was a period that followed three years of intense drought.

If this is what a DA provincial government can achieve under the hostile conditions of an ANC national government, just imagine the possibilities if we were able dictate policy nationally.

That would be real change. That would begin to break down the walls between the insiders and the outsiders of our economy.

Now add to that the financial liberation that comes with owning the title deed to your own property – being able to secure a loan against it, being able to leave it to your children in your will.

And then add to that the freedom that comes with safe neighbourhoods, free from gangs and drug dealers. Neighbourhoods protected by a vastly improved SAPS – trained, funded, equipped and motivated.

This is the South Africa that the DA wants to build.

A South Africa where the rights of every individual are upheld and protected.

A South Africa that rolls out the red carpet for investors and cherishes entrepreneurs and micro-enterprises.

A South Africa with a government that is open and transparent, and without the continuous shadow of corruption hanging over it.

A South Africa where both government and the civil service are capable, and where only the best are hired.

A South Africa where our citizens feel safe.

A South Africa where everyone stands equal before the law, and where all are held to account.

But most importantly, a South Africa where the walls between the insiders and the outsiders have come down and where everyone can enjoy the dignity that comes with having a job.

That is what a DA government will fight for.

We understand that it is not government that creates these jobs, but rather a thriving private sector. We know that a government’s task is to provide the climate that makes this possible.

This means treating small businesses and entrepreneurs as jobs heroes, supporting them where you can, and trying to streamline as much of the red tape that so often trips up SMME’s.

It means recognising that our cities are best placed to drive growth and jobs, and ensuring that they deliver the infrastructure that investors require – reliable electricity, clean water, efficient transport networks, safety and security and high-speed fibre.

It means recognising which sectors of the economy have the best job-creating potential, and focusing most of your resources on these sectors.

It means caring passionately about the youth, and doing all you can to open opportunities for them and give them work experience. Internships, apprenticeships, jobs centres – these are all top priorities in DA governments.

And we have more ideas in the pipeline for the youth, like a year’s voluntary national civilian service for school leavers.

These are the reasons why the only DA-run province in the country has, by far, the lowest unemployment rate. It is why young people stream here from all over to find work.

That is what you get in a DA government. We serve the people for whom we govern. We are not perfect but we aim high and we work hard, and it shows. We get stuff done.

The message we will be taking to communities across the country over the next few months will spell out our vision for the kind of South Africa we’d like to build, and we will focus specifically on five election pledges:

  1. We will fight corruption at every sphere and every level of government, and we will send those found guilty to jail for 15 years.
  2. We will fix the South African Police Service so that it is able to protect and serve the citizens of this country. This means hiring more officers, training them properly and making sure they are well equipped. It means bringing back the disbanded specialist police units and appointing only qualified and capable SAPS leadership.
  3. We will grow an economy that’s inclusive, and we will create fair access to jobs. This means no more cash for jobs, no more sex for jobs and no more jobs reserved for those with the right party connections and membership.
  4. We will secure our country’s borders and fix Home Affairs, so that those who want to enter here legally can do so, but those who want to come here illegally are kept out.
  5. We will speed up the delivery of basic services to all communities across South Africa.

That is our pledge to the people of this country. That is what you will get in a DA government.

A government that fights for the rights of each and every citizen, as enshrined in our Constitution.

A government that fights for the dignity of each and every citizen through better access to jobs and better access to basic services.

A government that fights to keep the people’s money and the people’s resources out of the pockets of the corrupt.

There is no other party doing any of these things. Standing at the crossroads of these elections, the choice before us should be clear: We must choose a different bus, not just a new driver.

Only one party has shown that it is committed to building one South Africa for all, and that party is the DA.

Thank you.

South Africa needs change now, not tokens and summits

On Wednesday morning I accompanied my son Daniel to his first day at school. His little hand in mine, he skipped along in a carefree manner clearly excited about what the future has in store.  My heart was filled with love for my son and with hope that he will grow up to fulfil his potential in a peaceful, prosperous South Africa. But it felt heavy with the knowledge that unless South Africa changes its approach – soon – future prospects for all of our children are uncertain.

Without real reform, six out of every ten grade 1 kids who started school this week alongside my son will drop out before writing matric. Not a single province managed to retain even 50% of 2016’s grade 10 class to write matric in 2018 (other than the DA-run Western Cape, which retained 63% of kids).

Take a minute to consider the implication of that for our future. How can South Africa possibly move forward – reduce poverty, inequality and unemployment – if well over half the next generation won’t even have matric?

Since 1994, the number of unemployed adults in SA has grown from 3.7 million to 9.8 million. Unless we radically change how we do things, it will soon be 10 million and climbing to 11 million. How can we hope to get crime under control and become a peaceful, prosperous society when there are so many desperate and frustrated people locked out of our economy?

Twenty-five years is long enough to have tried out our current approach. Clearly, it’s not working. We need real reform. Urgently.

We can’t afford to tinker at the edge with token projects. Or to delay change with endless summits and talk shops. And yet tomorrow in his January 8th statement, President Ramaphosa will do just this. He will promise to roll out tablets to schoolchildren. This will sound great, but it will have absolutely no effect on education outcomes while 78% of our 10-year-olds cannot read with meaning.

What he should be promising is to stand up to SADTU so that teachers can be better assisted and better incentivized to actually teach our kids.

His SONA promise of a jobs summit sounded great too, but it proved to be a talk shop with no commitment to real economic reform. So joblessness will continue to grow, and we’ll stay two South Africa’s – the “haves” and “have-nots” – with our insider/outsider economy.

The solution is obvious. We need wholesale change that opens opportunities to all South Africans, rather than to specific groups at the expense of the rest. The needs of schoolchildren and the jobless must come ahead of the demands of union bosses and the ANC-connected elite.

The upcoming election is a crucial opportunity to bring real change to SA. If you want to support the DA’s vision of one South Africa for all, please check that you are registered to vote by going to check.da.org.za.

The final registration weekend is 26-27 January. If you are a first-time voter or are not yet registered, please make sure you visit the voting station in your voting district between 8am and 5pm on either the Saturday or the Sunday, with either your green ID book, your smartcard ID or a valid Temporary Identity Certificate.

Our children’s future hangs in the balance. Before we know it, they’ll be young adults going out into the world to build their lives. Let’s not postpone change and delay real reform for another five or ten years. Rather, let’s start building one South Africa for all in 2019.

BOKAMOSO | 2019 is a chance to bring real change

Happy new year to you all! I hope you have had, or are still having, a wonderful festive season.

2019 is a critically important year for South Africa. This year, we collectively get our hands on the nation’s steering wheel. In the sixth general election of our democracy, we get to determine the direction our nation and our provinces will take over the next five years.

Our health, our safety, our children’s education, our prosperity and our everyday lived experiences over the next five years depend heavily on the choices we make this year. So this is a time to think very carefully about what we want for ourselves and our children.

The DA’s offer to South Africans is to bring change that builds one South Africa for all. We believe the only way forward is to go forward together as one united nation. Only by working together can we solve South Africa’s problems and bring about shared peace and prosperity.

Against the backdrop of a world which is shunning liberal democracy in favour of racial nationalism, the DA’s mission is to unite South Africa’s diverse people around our common values and four powerful pillars: commitment to the Constitution and the rule of law, to non-racialism, to a market-driven economy, and to building a capable state that delivers to all.

These pillars transcend race and class divisions. And they are the essential preconditions for rapid economic growth. Until they become dominant, South Africa is likely to remain on its current trajectory of rising unemployment, rising poverty and rising crime.

Over the coming months, many parties will make many promises. Voters may feel overwhelmed with information and disinformation. Ultimately, though, the choice is a simple one.

We can choose to keep South Africa on its current path as laid out by the ANC and EFF, toward greater state control over the economy, more populism, and more racial division. Or we can choose the DA’s path towards a growing economy, policies that work in practice, and a more united nation.

The DA’s approach to government attracts investment, promotes entrepreneurship, and leads to job creation and a growing economy which in turn provides the tax revenue needed to open more and more opportunities to more and more people.

The DA’s approach to the economy works in practice, which is why over half of all jobs created in South Africa in the past year were created in the DA-run Western Cape (95 000 out of 188 000), even though only one eighth of the nation’s workforce resides there.

At the end of the day, a political party should exist for one reason and one reason only: to govern well for all people. The DA’s track record in government shows unequivocally that it leads in good governance. The DA-run Western Cape leads on every metric of good governance, offering people not only the best chance of finding work, but also the best healthcare, the best basic education, and the best track record on land reform.

We run the cleanest governments by far, meaning that we spend public money on the public, rather than wasting or looting it. This fact is reflected in the latest Auditor-General results, which showed that the Western Cape achieved 83% clean audits, miles ahead of second-placed Gauteng at 52%.

The DA is committed to bringing good, clean government to more and more people and provinces in South Africa. We are determined to fight the ANC’s insider/outsider model of the economy, which enriches a connected few at the expense of an excluded majority. And we are intent on uniting all South Africans around our enduring values.

Our specific pledge to voters is that we will bring change that builds one South Africa for all by ensuring fairer access to jobs, by fighting corruption, by speeding up service delivery, by providing an honest, professional police service, and by securing our borders.

If you share our values and want to vote for the party with the best track record in government, then please make sure you are registered to vote. You can check your registration by going to check.da.org.za.

The final registration weekend is 26-27 January. If you are a first-time voter or are not yet registered, make sure you visit the voting station in your voting district between 8am and 5pm on either the Saturday or the Sunday, with either your green ID book, your smartcard ID or a valid Temporary Identity Certificate.

Team DA is ready to fight this election, armed with our powerful values and our strong commitment to building one South Africa for all. If you share our values and our commitment, please register to vote DA in 2019!

BOKAMOSO | Why you should vote DA in 2019

This newsletter is the final in a four-part series that explains why, for anyone who dreams of a prosperous, united South Africa, voting for the DA is a far more powerful action and a much safer bet than “voting for Ramaphosa”.

The best way to advance South Africa is to support the DA in 2019. This is true even for those who wish to support Ramaphosa’s reform agenda.

The DA is the most powerful political force for economic growth, good governance and unity in SA today. The stronger the DA, the stronger the force for a market-driven economy within a non-racial, constitutional democracy.

The obvious first question to ask when considering which party to vote for is: Which party will govern best? (When it comes down to it, the reason we vote is to ensure the best possible government so as to improve life as much as possible.) The answer here is unequivocally the DA.

Objectively, the DA’s track record of improving lives is leagues ahead of our competitors. The DA-run Western Cape Province leads in every metric of good governance.

According to StatsSA, over half of all jobs created in the past 12-month period were created in the Western Cape, even though the province only constitutes 12% of South Africa’s labour force. That’s 95 000 out of 188 000 new jobs.

In the past decade, employment grew by 19.8% in the Western Cape, well ahead of second-placed Gauteng at 7.5%. These successes are the result of the province’s economic strategy – Project Khulisa.

Job creation is the issue South Africans care most about. And rightly so. Rapid, job-creating economic growth is the only way to reverse our current vicious circle of mounting poverty, unemployment, inequality and debt.

The Western Cape leads because people feel confident to invest there, whether it’s building a house or building a business. Why? Because the DA-run government does the hard, honest work of spending public money on public services, be it education, healthcare, roads, water and sanitation, electricity, transport or communications.

According to the Auditor General, the province achieved 83% clean audits in the most recent year, far ahead of second-placed Gauteng with 52%. This proves that we spend public money, efficiently, on the public, rather than wasting or looting it.

That’s why the Western Cape consistently leads in education, with the highest retention of learners in the system and the best maths, science and overall matric results. It is why we have the best maintained roads, the highest connectivity, and the best service delivery to the poor.

And it is why the province has the most functional healthcare system, producing the highest life expectancy in the country. Since the DA took over in 2009, life expectancy there has increased from 59 to 66 years and from 64 to 72 years for men and women respectively.

If voters give us the mandate, we will apply this same approach to Gauteng, where the only outright DA-governed municipality, Midvaal, is already leading with the lowest unemployment levels in the province and five consecutive years of clean audits.

In Johannesburg and Tshwane, DA-led coalitions have ended billions of rands of corrupt contracts and put both cities firmly on the path to financial sustainability, economic growth and better service delivery.

Under a DA-led coalition, Nelson Mandela Bay metro went from second least trusted to second most trusted metro in the country (after Cape Town).

Aside from track record in government, a good second question to ask is: Which party is best placed to unite the country?

The DA is unequivocally the most diverse political party in South Africa, comprising young and old of all races. This reflects our commitment to building one South Africa for all and our conviction that we South Africans are better together.

The 2019 election comes at a time when the world is questioning a very important value: human solidarity. Forces that seek to divide humanity along national, ethnic or racial lines are in the ascendant. The DA is fighting back. We stand for human solidarity and nonracialism.

Unlike most SA political parties, the DA does not seek to represent or enrich any particular group in society at the expense of any other group. Rather, we seek to unite people around shared values: a deep commitment to the Constitution and the rule of law (including zero-tolerance of corruption), non-racialism, a market-driven economy and a capable state. We are committed to governing for all.

A third consideration should surely be: How committed is the party to economic reform?

Once again, only the DA is unequivocally committed to the deep structural reforms required to achieve rapid economic growth and job creation, such as ending Eskom’s monopoly on power production, selling SAA, standing up to SADTU, and reforming labour legislation.

But a proven track record of best governance, proven commitment to governing for all, and a solid commitment to reform may not be enough for those voters who wish to vote “strategically”, with an eye on the current constellation of political power in SA. Yet even a “strategic” vote is best placed with the DA, as Helen Zille pointed out this week.

Imagine the DA at one end of a see-saw, representing a strong reform agenda towards a market-driven economy within a nonracial constitutional democracy. And the EFF at the other end, representing a strong populist agenda towards a state-led economy within a racial kleptocracy. A factionally divided ANC straddles the pivot point, but with far more weight on the EFF side. Ramaphosa may be on the DA side, but the bulk of the ANC is not. Therefore, voting ANC will not tip the balance from kleptocracy towards reform. The most leverage you can possibly get for a reform agenda is to vote for the DA.

The most recent example of this is today’s North Gauteng High Court ruling that the state cannot fund Jacob Zuma’s legal fees in his defence of his role in the corruption that has afflicted our country. This is a victory for South Africa and the DA. Left to President Ramaphosa, the state would have continued to fund Jacob Zuma’s legal defence. The DA’s court action compelled him to do the right thing.

This is my last newsletter of 2019. I wish you all a peaceful and safe festive season. Travel safely and get lots of rest because 2019 is the year we start building one South Africa for all.

BOKAMOSO | Time for some “Ramarealism”

This newsletter is the third in a four-part series that seeks to debunk the well-meaning but dangerous idea that Ramaphosa is the “knight in shining armour” come to save SA.

In the first newsletter, I debunked the idea that Ramaphosa needs a “bigger mandate” from the public. In the second, I poked holes in the notion that a strong ANC will protect us from the EFF. In this third newsletter I seek to explain why confidence in Ramaphosa is based on hope rather than evidence, and that “Ramarealism” will serve us better than “Ramaphoria”. In the fourth, I will set out why the DA is the party to vote for in 2019.

After 25 years of ANC hegemony, South Africa finds itself on a distinctly negative trajectory. Every single metric of social wellbeing is moving in the wrong direction: unemployment, poverty and inequality are going up, as are crime rates, the cost of living, and the chances of load-shedding. Desperate for hope, many people are looking to a single individual, Cyril Ramaphosa, to fix South Africa.

Ultimately, job-creating economic growth is the only show in town. Nothing else will solve South Africa’s problems. Yet it is extremely unlikely that Ramaphosa will get our economy growing and creating jobs.

Why? Because Ramaphosa is fundamentally an ANC man.

Firstly, he is committed to the ANC’s failed ideology of state-led development. This is evident in his determination to keep pouring billions of taxpayer rands into the bottomless pit that is SAA.

And it is evident in the legislation going through Parliament under Ramaphosa’s watch: expropriation without compensation, the one-size-fits-all national minimum wage, the Competition Amendment Bill, the Basic Education Laws Amendment Bill, the National Health Insurance Bill.

This legislation does not solve the core problems at the heart of all service delivery failure in South Africa, it makes them worse.

Secondly, Ramaphosa is deeply embedded in and committed to the ANC’s cosy relationship with big labour and big business that underpins our insider/outsider economy – in which those with jobs are protected and the 9.8 million without jobs stand very little chance of finding one. He fully endorses the ANC system that enriches a connected elite at the expense of the excluded poor. Indeed, his estimated net worth of R6.4 billion – including 31 properties – depended on it.

Thus the most decisive outcome of his jobs summit was the moratorium on public sector retrenchments.

Unions are the ANC’s core support base, so the deep reforms required for the economy to grow – privatising SOEs, cutting the public wage bill, liberalising labour legislation, fixing basic education – will remain strictly off limits and investors will continue to go elsewhere.

“But at least we’ll have stability” is the standard Ramaphorian reply to this argument. Really? Our disillusioned young army of 9.8 million jobless will soon grow to 10 million and more. Stability is not going to be a word in our lexicon until we break free from the ANC’s insider/outsider paradigm that sustains this abnormally high unemployment rate.

The DA has a plan to do just that. It centres on freeing our economy and leveling the playing field for new entrants, be they entrepreneurs, young people, or the unemployed. We will grow small business opportunities by removing blockage and red-tape, including exempting them from restrictive labour legislation.

We will do what Ramaphosa cannot and will not: privatise SOE’s, cut the public sector wage bill and appoint on merit. This will free up resources to invest in the infrastructure required to enable economic growth and it will create the conditions for a far more inclusive economy.

Ramaphosa knows these are the reforms to fix South Africa. But he will never go that route because his focus is on fixing the ANC. The big Ramaphoria hope is that he will do this by tackling the corruption that infects the ANC and its governments. Yet the evidence is that even in this endeavor, he will fail.

Despite much lip service, there has still not been a single arrest of any person involved in the capture and looting of Eskom and Transnet, or their handlers inside the ANC. The NPA are letting the Guptas get away with the Estina Dairy scandal. And Ramaphosa is still making the public pay for Zuma’s defence costs, despite it being within his power to cancel this irrational deal now.

Ramaphosa’s track record in fighting corruption is abysmal. He was not only Deputy President and Head of Government Business from 2014-2017, but also headed the ANC’s deployment committee during the worst years of state capture, from 2012 to 2017.

He oversaw the appointments of Brian Molefe, Matshela Koko and Ben Ngubane to steer Eskom, amongst others. So either he played a key role in state capture, or else he is extraordinarily incompetent. Neither fits in with the “corruption-buster” theory. (And his excuse that he “didn’t know how bad it was” makes him either dishonest or incompetent.) But optimists argue he was just biding his time and playing the “long game”.

Then there is the matter of a R500 000 payment by Bosasa CEO Gavin Watson into a fund for Ramaphosa’s election campaign, and the fishy business relationship between Bosasa and Ramaphosa’s son, Andile.

The evidence tells us that this election is not about how best to save the ANC. It is about how best to save South Africa from the ANC. That’s why voters should resist the lure of Ramaphoria, and support the only party building one South Africa for all – the DA.

BOKAMOSO | SA’s redemption lies in a split ANC, not a strong ANC

In my newsletter last week, I interrogated and debunked the theory that Cyril Ramaphosa needs a bigger mandate in 2019 so that he can fix the ANC, and by extension (so the argument goes) the economy. Now I want to debunk the equally ill-considered theory that the ANC needs a clear majority so that it isn’t forced into coalition with the EFF.

This theory was articulated last week by influential commentator Max du Preez in a radio interview: “If by April next year it seems to me that the ANC could come in under 50% or just over, I will bring out a strategic vote for them on a national level… because… if the ANC gets 45% next year ……. the only possible alliance partner in our current political climate would be the EFF.”

Peter Bruce, in his Sunday Times column, said: “a weakened ANC is ripe for EFF reinfection”.

Let’s put aside the obvious problem that dismal past performance should not be rewarded with re-election. No healthy democracy would return a political party to power that has grown the number of unemployed from 3.7 million to 9.8 million, lost the nation R500 billion to state capture, put its economy into recession, and produced an illiteracy rate of 80% amongst 10-year-olds.

If South Africa is to develop a culture of accountability, we need to hold corruption and poor performance to account, not reward it. If the ANC is returned to power in 2019 with a resounding majority, it would deliver a body blow to our democracy.

Let’s also put aside the possibility that confidence in Ramaphosa is based on blind hope rather than on any rational assessment of the facts to hand. (I’ll discuss that in next week’s newsletter.)

The notion that we must give the ANC a clear majority to avoid an ANC-EFF coalition relies on the assumption that the ANC would choose to go into coalition with the EFF over the other available options. But other options do exist. An ANC-EFF coalition is not the only possibility.

A 45% ANC could choose to go into coalition with some combination of other parties or it could form a minority government (in which they would need to build consensus around each piece of legislation before passing it into law). Alternatively, the other parties could form a coalition government or a minority coalition government. (After the 2016 local elections, DA-led minority coalition governments were formed in Johannesburg and Tshwane, summarily cutting the ANC’s patronage systems in both metros and returning them to financial health).

If the assumption (that the ANC would go into coalition with the EFF) is correct, it suggests that the ANC’s values, ideology, interests and policy positions are more closely aligned with the EFF than with other parties. If this is the case, the ANC is the last party we should vote for if we want to protect our nation from EFF-style politics. Instead, we should strengthen the only bulwark against this style of politics: the DA.

If everyone follows these commentators’ advice, and the ANC is returned to power with a strong mandate, there will be a real possibility that together the ANC and EFF will achieve the required two thirds mandate to change our Constitution. This cannot possibly be in South Africa’s best interest.

In August, the ANC and EFF went into coalition in Nelson Mandela Bay to wrest the metro from DA mayor Athol Trollip’s capable, honest administration and return it to the same corrupt cabal that emptied the coffers before 2016, as detailed in Crispian Olver’s book How to Steal a City.

In the matter of the VBS heist, the ANC and alliance partner SACP both received money from VBS and the evidence suggests the EFF also benefitted, at the expense of the rural poor of Limpopo.

Just last week, the ANC supported the EFF’s motion in the Constitutional Review Committee to change the constitution to allow for expropriation without compensation.

If the ANC comes in under 50% in 2019, it would end the ANC’s disastrous run of hegemonic, majoritarian liberation movement politics and usher in a new era of coalition politics and political accountability. Public representatives would know that corruption and poor performance are punished at the ballot box.

Ramaphosa’s faction would have good reason to split from the ANC and go its own ideological way. A final split in the ANC would bring about a real realignment of politics, in which all of us who share a respect for the Constitution and a commitment to honest, people-focused government could work together to get South Africa back on track.

South Africa’s redemption lies in a split ANC, not a strong ANC. Yet this split will not happen while we focus on saving the ANC rather than on saving South Africa.

The main problem with a focus on saving the ANC, regardless of who emerges as leader, is that the ANC is beholden to Cosatu for its support. The ANC-Cosatu alliance sustains itself through maintaining an insider-outsider economy in which the insiders – those with jobs – enjoy the protection of restrictive labour legislation.

The ANC-Cosatu alliance is a fundamentally insider-driven organization, guaranteeing SADTU control over large sectors of our education department and putting reforms such as reducing the public sector wage bill strictly off limits.

This is why Carol Paton in her latest column rightly argues that even under a Ramaphosa-dominated ANC our most pressing problems will endure: unemployment and especially youth unemployment will remain high, basic education will remain dysfunctional, and the public sector wage bill will remain bloated. All of which will keep the handbrake on our economy.

A “strategic” vote for the ANC may be attractive to insiders including those who fund the ANC’s election campaign, but it will keep the poor, hungry, unemployed outsiders out and perpetually dependent on the state.

To build an economy that works for everyone, we need a coalition based on a commitment to breaking down the barriers that keep so many people locked out of the economy. We need to stare the unions down and implement real reforms, and we need to do this urgently. We cannot afford another five or ten years with a dysfunctional basic education system and unnaturally high unemployment, both of which are crimes against humanity.

The DA does not rely on unions for electoral support. Our plan is to break down the insider/outsider divide by changing labour legislation to make it more attractive / less risky for businesses to create jobs and easier for small businesses to start and grow. We would strengthen and capacitate education departments by ending the system of cadre deployment that keeps SADTU so powerful. And we would focus on building a lean, capable state that delivers quality services to all.

It is no coincidence that over half the jobs created in South Africa in the past 12 months were created in the Western Cape (95 000 out of 188 000), even though the Western Cape only accounts for 12% of South Africa’s labour force. It is a direct result of our focus on extending opportunities to all.

In 2019, a “strategic” vote for the ANC by insiders will be a vote for the insider/outsider economy status quo. It will indicate a failure of imagination, a dereliction of electoral duty and a disregard for the democratic principle of accountability. A vote for the DA will be a vote for reforms that break down the barriers that keep the jobless and the young locked out. It will be a vote for an honest, capable state that enables job creation and delivers to all.

BOKAMOSO | “Bigger mandate” will be a bigger mistake

There is a theory doing the rounds that the best thing for South Africa would be for Cyril Ramaphosa to get a “bigger mandate” in the 2019 elections. Even seasoned political analysts like Carol Paton, Max du Preez and Peter Bruce have succumbed to the illusory allure of this thinking.

I want to interrogate this theory, because it is completely illogical. Unless it is thoroughly debunked, well-meaning people may end up unintentionally contributing to South Africa’s further demise. The reasoning behind the theory is that Ramaphosa only won the ANC presidency by a handful of votes at the ANC’s elective congress at Nasrec in Dec 2017. With such a slim margin, he doesn’t have a strong enough mandate to push through the reforms South Africa needs to get our economy growing. With a bigger mandate he can stand up to the “bad ANC” and fix South Africa.

The first problem with this theory is that it is based on the fallacy that voters are able to give Ramaphosa a mandate. They aren’t. South Africa’s electoral system is one of proportional representation. Voters do not get to vote for individuals, only for parties. Not a single South African will get to vote for Ramaphosa alone. They won’t even get to choose between the “good ANC” and the “bad ANC”.

On the ballot paper, there is only one ANC. The same ANC that has grown the number of unemployed from 3.7 million to 9.8 million people, lost South Africa R500 billion to state capture, put our economy into recession, and produced an illiteracy rate of 80% amongst 10 year-olds.

So a vote for Cyril is really a vote for the ANC which is a vote for failure and corruption. Healthy democracy requires that poor performance is punished at the ballot box. The alternative is impunity and a one party state. When poor performance is rewarded with continued electoral support, the electorate must expect further poor performance. They must also expect continued looting of the state and further conspicuous abuse of power. These are the consequences of the culture of entitlement and impunity that extended incumbency fosters.

If not from voters, where does Cyril get his mandate? It comes from the ANC’s National Executive Committee, which has the power to remove a sitting president on any given day of his presidency. The NEC is packed with the same people who kept Zuma in the presidency for nine disastrous years, only removing him when it came time to save the ANC from committing electoral suicide.

Therefore, Ramaphosa will probably never be as powerful as he is now, before the 2019 election. Because right now, he is the only thing the ANC has going for it, and they know it. Without him, they would be electoral toast in 2019.

(In that sense, Ramaphosa is doing South Africa great harm, acting as a life support system for a party that should be gasping its last breaths, based on its performance. In Zimbabwe, ZANU-PF has survived far longer than it deserves, partly because it also “replaced the face”. Too late, voters are coming to realise that Mnangagwa is no better than Mugabe.)

After 2019, once Ramaphosa has secured another five year term for the ANC, his job will have been done, as far as they are concerned. He will have guaranteed them a further five years of looting. Then, if Ramaphosa steps out of line and tries to hold too many people to account, or tries to bring in too many pesky reforms that threaten the feeding trough, he best beware.

After 2019, the person most keen to see Ramaphosa removed will be Deputy President David “DD” Mabuza. Ramaphosa was elected at Nasrec as ANC president because Mabuza, Premier of Mpumalanga at the time, threw his considerable support in with Ramaphosa, in return for the Deputy Presidency.

He is a ruthless politician who has stopped at nothing to climb the political ladder, as laid out clearly in this New York Times article. He rightly calculated that his quickest path to the presidency would be achieved by supporting Ramaphosa at Nasrec.

Both Thabo Mbeki and Jacob Zuma were pushed out before the end of their presidential terms and replaced with their deputies. Based on this historical record, there is a reasonable chance that Ramaphosa will suffer the same fate, and be replaced by Mabuza.

A Mabuza Presidency would make Zuma’s look mild, and it would open the way for Malema to return to the ANC with the few remaining constitutionalists in that party truly vanquished.

The second problem with the “bigger mandate” theory is that it assumes Ramaphosa is committed to the reforms South Africa needs to get our economy growing at the pace necessary to create jobs on a massive scale. This assumption is based on blind hope rather than fact. Very little in his past record suggests this is the case. But this is a discussion for another article.

(Another ill-considered theory is that the ANC needs a full mandate, so that it is not forced into coalition with the EFF. Once again, this is a topic which requires an article of its own.)

The “bigger mandate” theory simply does not stand up to scrutiny. The sooner we get beyond “big man” politics and start building strong independent institutions that check and balance power, the sooner we will be protected from the likes of Zuma, Mabuza and Malema. These are the institutions envisaged by the Constitution: an independent legislature, judiciary, reserve bank, public protector, and national prosecuting authority. And most importantly, a strong opposition party that will stand up to power, not cozy up to it.

The DA is committed to building these institutions. This is why we support DA MP Glynnis Breytenbach in her decision to stand down as a nominee for National Director of Public Prosecutions, even though we believe she would perform her duties brilliantly, independently and without fear or favour. The culture of “big man” politics is so pervasive in South Africa that political interference in our institutions is seen as the norm. So, we believe it is not enough for the NDPP to be independent. She must also be seen to be independent.

In 2019, a vote for Ramaphosa will be a vote for the ANC and for DD Mabuza. A vote for the DA will be a vote for the Constitutional values of strong, independent institutions and honest, capable government for all.

BOKAMOSO | Unions are the economic elephant in the room

South Africa is like a terminally ill patient refusing to make life-saving lifestyle changes. Our most urgent crisis is that 9.75 million adults are without work, 6 million of whom are young people. Our unemployment and youth unemployment rates are both unnaturally high. Yet the necessary reforms that would bring them down to manageable levels are not happening, largely because the ANC is not prepared to stand up to trade union bosses who control key ANC constituencies.

The cozy symbiotic relationship between the ANC and trade union bosses is pulling South Africa into a debt spiral. We can have a bloated public wage bill and high unemployment, or we have broad prosperity. We cannot have both. To stay in power, the ANC is choosing the former.

Trade union bosses effectively run protection rackets, ensuring secure employment in return for monthly contributions. The labour system is designed to make these contributions practically compulsory. So bosses are selling workers down the road, effectively forcing them to pay protection money while ensuring their children will never find work.

The remedies to our dreadful financial and unemployment situation are obvious. We need to close SAA, cut our public sector wage bill, reduce the size of our government, privatise many SOEs including Eskom’s production component, and reform our labour regime.

But President Ramaphosa has made it clear. SAA will not be closed, never mind that to stay afloat it will need R21.7 billion in bailouts over the next three years. Public sector retrenchments are strictly off limits, never mind that we are borrowing money to pay an oversized public wage bill even as service delivery collapses under the weight of corruption and incompetence.

Why? Because the trade union movement is a key ANC constituency. Picture a nest of chicks, mouths gaping open screaming “feed me, feed me!” This is what the ANC sees when it looks at its constituencies. “You keep me fed and I’ll keep you in position” is the essence of the arrangement. And the hungriest chicks in that nest are union bosses.

In August, Ramaphosa’s government once again bowed to demands for above-inflation wage increases, which has left a R30 billion hole in our budget.

In his mid-term budget statement, Mboweni didn’t mince his words. Our national debt is now R2.8 trillion, 56% of GDP and set to rise to 60% over the next few years. Servicing that debt will cost R182 billion this financial year.

That is R500 million rand per day. This is the crippling debt Ramaphosa’s government is lumping on our children tomorrow to pay the salaries of public servants today and keep the ANC in power. Most of these public servants do very little to serve the public and many are rampantly looting the public purse.

Our public wage bill consumes over 30% of our budget, far more than our peer countries. As a result, government is underspending on the essential water, energy, transport and communications infrastructure we need to grow our economy and create jobs.

The SABC’s current predicament is a microcosm for the whole country. By cutting the wage bill, the SABC would increase the budget it can allocate to content. If it produces better content, it can attract larger audiences, which means it will be able to charge advertisers higher fees. This will ensure its financial sustainability.

Retrenching is tough and must be undertaken fairly and sensitively with an aim to minimizing the social pain. But it is a far better option than to put the entire organization at risk of collapse.

The alternative is ongoing government bailouts for SABC. As with so many other policies, the government is prevaricating. It remains to be seen whether political expediency will win the day as usual, as it has with Eskom.

Eskom is in deep financial crisis, which has put our whole economy at risk. It is caught in a debt spiral, meaning it is borrowing to service its debt. Meanwhile its credit status is rated as junk, meaning it pays a high interest rate on that borrowing.

Eskom’s headcount has grown from 32 000 ten years ago to 47 000 today, despite it producing less power now than it did then. The obvious answer is drastic cuts to its wage bill. But industrial action that sabotaged several power stations in July assured above-inflation wage increases for each of the next three years (7.5%, 7% and 7% respectively).

Political considerations also lie behind the government’s refusal to take the DA’s advice, which is to split Eskom into separate power production and distribution functions, privatise production and allow cities to buy power directly from private producers.

The public will pay the price in the form of higher electricity costs and slower economic growth and job creation, a price the ANC deems worth paying to placate a key constituency ahead of the 2019 elections.

Similarly, the ANC would rather deny 80% of our school children quality basic education than stand up to SADTU, its largest union.

The essence of responsible governance is to put public interests over those of specific groups, and to balance the interests of current and future generations. Experience around the world has shown that this is the route which leads to economic growth and job creation.

StatsSA’s recently released jobs stats show that in the past twelve months, over 50% of all jobs created in SA (95 000 out of 188 000) were created in the DA-run Western Cape, even though the province only accounts for 12% of South Africa’s working age population. Where the ANC favours organized labour, the DA favours job creation.

BOKAMOSO | Patricia De Lille: The DA was right to hold her to account

Today Patricia De Lille resigned as mayor of Cape Town, as per the agreement I made with her in good faith in August. I realise it has been a difficult time for the people of Cape Town. It is important now that we draw a line in the sand and focus on the future, on improving peoples’ lives, and on building an inclusive, sustainable city.

I have always maintained that De Lille has made a valuable contribution to South Africa. Nevertheless, as mayor she stands accused of doing some inherently wrong things, as detailed in a 2000-page report (read a summary here) by independent legal firm Bowman Gilfillan.

The city council has now laid charges against De Lille, based on the findings of this report, which clearly shows how De Lille’s conduct systematically broke down good governance in the City of Cape Town by manipulating city processes and protecting the wrongdoing of city officials.

It recommends that De Lille be criminally charged for, amongst other things, interfering in city tenders. She did so by interfering in the legal obligation of the former City Manager, Achmat Ebrahim, to institute legally required disciplinary action against officials suspected to have violated the law.

According to the report, she actively shielded and defended officials implicated in criminal acts relating to the BYD bus tender for new MyCiti buses, in which processes were fraudulently manipulated to illegally favour one bus provider.

Similarly, in the Volvo chassis matter, as mayor she chose to ignore an irregular payment of almost R50 million and shield consequential action against it. De Lille’s level of interference is best summed up by her own comments that “this matter is going nowhere”.

She has been charged under section 119 of the Municipal Systems Act, which states: “119(1) A councillor who attempts to influence the municipal manager or any other staff member or an agent of a municipality not to enforce an obligation in terms of this Act, any other applicable legislation or any by-law or decision of the council of the municipality, is guilty of an offence and on conviction liable to a fine or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding two years”. 

As a party we pride ourselves on accountability. We have always upheld the principle that everyone is equal before the law. Good, honest government is a guiding principle for the DA. We will not compromise on that. No matter the consequences, we take a zero-tolerance approach to any form of corruption, misconduct or maladministration. There is really no other option for a party that puts people first, as we try to do.

There is a simple adage which says: “Do the right thing, even if it’s hard.” In the case of Patricia De Lille, the DA has done just that. And believe me, it has been hard. But after all, principles only count when they are tested.

Her conduct as detailed in this 2000-page report would not be acceptable in any DA government, because it violates our non-negotiable principle of good, honest government. I am proud of the DA government in Cape Town for opening an investigation into these claims and for doing the right thing in taking the difficult action against De Lille.

That an independent investigation has found against De Lille vindicates the DA in its determination to seek accountability. But I want to be clear that even had the report found in her favour, which it did not, launching an independent investigation would still have been the right thing to do.

We believe the law should take its course. De Lille has repeatedly expressed a desire to “clear her name” but like Zuma, she has consistently delayed and obstructed the process of achieving her “day in court”. Over the past year that this saga has played out, De Lille has done her best to confuse and conflate matters in the public mind – both directly and through her many proxies.

Most recently, she has claimed that a second Bowman Gilfillan report contains conflicting findings. This is nonsense. There is a golden thread that runs through both reports which describes how she consistently manipulated city processes and protected the wrongdoing of city officials.

These people are also being held accountable. Melissa Whitehead has been suspended and is the subject of a disciplinary process. Brett Herron has been charged. De Lille has aggressively and publicly defended them both for their actions and has simultaneously attacked the whistle-blowers who brought their and her misconduct to the fore. Other implicated officials will be dealt with in terms of the relevant city processes.

History will prove the DA did the right thing even when it was hard. The governance breakdown in Cape Town under De Lille has cost the City dearly, resulting in fatally flawed and compromised tenders, the cancellation of which has exposed the City to serious legal and financial risk. So, I am relieved that she no longer holds the reins in Cape Town. I do, however, wish her well in her future endeavours.

We now enter a new era under Mayor Dan Plato, who will refocus council on the fight against crime, on building an inclusive city, and on speeding up service delivery for all.

As a party, the DA remains deeply committed to good, honest governance. The latest employment figures, released yesterday, show that we are delivering in the Western Cape, where 95 000 new jobs have been created in the past year and where broad unemployment has dropped by 1.5 percentage points, even as national unemployment has reached all-time-high records.

We are now focused on election 2019, to bring our offer of good, honest governance to all South Africans.

BOKAMOSO | Cape Town Council: We cannot sacrifice accountability on the altar of false racial victimhood

Friday’s Bokamoso contained a factual inaccuracy regarding the role of the five former DA councillors in Cape Town, an error for which we apologise. Please find below the corrected version. 

The struggle for a nonracial South Africa began in the early 1900s and continues to this day. The diverse people of our country will know neither peace nor broad prosperity until that ideal is achieved. Our historic agreement of 1994 was that South Africa belongs to all who live in it. The DA’s project is to promote that vision and continue the struggle for a nonracial South Africa.

Our rich diversity is part of what makes this country so fascinating and beautiful. We should embrace it. Acknowledging diversity doesn’t make you a racist. On the contrary, it is the first step to embracing it. Apartheid will only be truly defeated when only one race remains: the human race.

To find each other, we must be willing to ask difficult questions and have frank conversations. That’s why the DA does not shy away from robust, open debate. You can only draw people near when you reach out. It is worth the effort a million times over, because we are all better together.

Our key political opponents thrive on racial division. Their objective in doing so is to win votes, not to build a prosperous, successful, peaceful country. For the ANC and EFF, racial propaganda is a powerful mechanism to “divide and conquer”. For the ANC, it is their last remaining way to shore up their waning support, which is ebbing away on a tide of corruption and poor governance.

This is electoral populism. It has nothing to do with bringing people together or helping to solve their problems. Ahead of the 2014 national election, Cyril Ramaphosa urged disgruntled Limpopo residents to vote, saying: “If you don’t vote the Boers will come back to control us”. In 2016, Julius Malema said: “We are not calling for the slaughtering of white people, at least for now.” Last year, he said: “Indian people are worse than Afrikaners. This is not an anti-Indian statement, it’s the truth.”

Playing the race card is also a convenient to way to escape accountability. There is a growing culture of false victimhood in South Africa. In a multiracial context, anyone accused of corruption or poor governance can always claim racism. This immediately diverts attention from real transgressions and makes the subject untouchable and the victim unassailable.

If we want to build a successful, peaceful society, then we need to accept that there must be one set of rules for everyone. Our Constitution and laws must apply to everyone equally, no matter their race. Apartheid was based on different rules for different people and it failed dismally.

In Cape Town, the DA sought accountability. The city commissioned a report with independent legal firm Bowman Gilfillan, which made adverse findings against some councilors.

For five Cape Town councilors, the DA wasn’t a racist party last month. But now that they’ve been shown to be the most ardent defenders of maladministration, despite evidence which has now been confirmed by a credible forensic investigation, the DA is suddenly a racist party. These five councilors have resigned, claiming racial victimhood. Can it be coincidence that they have suddenly decided the DA is racist?

In positioning themselves as racial victims, they seek to discredit the forensic investigation, the legal firm that undertook it, and the political party that has sought accountability, the DA. This tactic is destructive for two reasons. Firstly, it undermines the fight for accountability. Secondly, it undermines the fight against real racism – the classic case of crying wolf.

The real VBS issue is that politically connected individuals stole R2 billion from poor people through banking fraud. The manufactured issue to deflect from this real issue is that “black people can’t run a bank”. In this case, the author of the VBS report, Terry Motau, is black, so he and his report can’t be discredited on the basis of being racist.

The moral and economic imperative to transform South Africa’s banking sector is undermined when people use race as an excuse for looting. Corruption is a cancer destroying our body politic. Accountability is the only cure. We must not allow racial mobilization to undermine our fight for accountability.

The Bowman Gilfillan report finds that various Cape Town councilors displayed a serious lack of judgement, at best. Now these same councilors are seeking to cast Bowman Gilfillan as synonymous with KPMG and the Guptas.

In Tshwane, the city manager is using the same tactic to avoid accountability, claiming victimhood and calling an audit report ‘bogus’ because it finds against him. Are we to conclude that an institution cannot be credible if it finds against a particular race?

If we fall prey to this dynamic of false racial victimisation, then all processes become flawed and our 1994 social contract becomes untenable. Then we’ll need courts for black people and courts for white people, auditing firms for black people and auditing firms for white people and so on.

That is why the DA must succeed. If not, what is now racism between black and white tomorrow will be between ethnic groups.

The media sensation after yesterday’s council meeting was extraordinary. Five out of 154 DA councilors (and out of 2000 DA public reps) resign and suddenly “the DA is imploding”. This is nonsense. But the media has bought into this false narrative.

The DA is the most diverse party in South Africa. It is far easier for mono-racial parties to maintain party unity. The DA seeks to unite people around shared values such as accountability rather than shared race.

Where there is no accountability there is ultimately failure. That is why the ANC will ultimately collapse. As deputy president, Ramaphosa failed to act on state capture, VBS and a catalogue of other corruption. This is not how I run a party. Where there is even a hint of corruption, I will act on it. Regardless of race – to do otherwise is ultimately racist.

The DA is laying the foundations for a strong party within a mature democracy. It is a real challenge to build a nonracial South Africa but we have to fight on. One South Africa for all is the DA’s historic mission. We stand on the shoulders of giants who came before us and fought this worthy fight. We dare not fail.