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.

BOKAMOSO | Venezuela: Beware of those who steal from the poor in the name of the poor.

I recently met with two Venezuelan opposition politicians who had travelled here to give us a first-hand account of how and why Venezuela has imploded. They gave us a clear and urgent warning not to head down the same dead-end road of populist, socialist policies that has led to Venezuela’s failure.

Just a generation ago, Venezuela was the richest country in Latin America with GDP per capita similar to Norway’s. Today it is a failed state with over 80% of its population living in poverty, battling food and medicine shortages. Its healthcare system has collapsed, and infant mortality has skyrocketed with malnutrition given as the main reason for baby deaths. Annual inflation is at 1000000% and the economy has halved in size.

Why? Because Venezuelans fell prey to the myth of the strong, charismatic leader. Hugo Chavez promised them a socialist utopia. He promised to be the Robin Hood who would take from the rich and give to the poor. His socialist agenda was the same toxic mix of expropriation, nationalization and institutionalized corruption that the ANC and EFF are flirting with here in SA.

What started in 2001 with a policy of expropriating unused land without compensation very soon ramped up to expropriating productive land and businesses.  Food and other shortages arose as investment dried up. The state responded to food shortages with price controls, which inevitably caused even more productive land to fall into disuse. The state now controls almost all economic activity.

Economic oppression inevitably turned into political oppression, because a collapsing economy cannot fulfil the populist promises made to people. So, to protect their power and privileges, Chavez’s ruling party destroyed the democratic institutions – a free press, a functional legislature, free and fair elections – that would enable people to take back power.

Democracy has collapsed into authoritarianism, replete with intimidation and imprisonment of political opponents. It is very hard for Venezuelans to see a way out. So instead, they are getting out. Literally leaving the country in their thousands, in search of food, medicine and freedom.

Even though SA is in a critical state with so many crises vying for attention that we have become numb to most of them, we still operate under the assumption that “it will never happen here”. But that’s what the Venezuelans thought too. Hearing their story firsthand was a reality check. Because Venezuela’s early warning signs are flashing in SA today.

Ramaphosa’s ANC is moving South Africa decisively away from liberal democracy and towards more populist, socialist policies that concentrate power in the state. They are meddling more and more in the economy, even while failing in their core mandate to provide health, education, police, infrastructure and welfare services to the nation.

They are pursuing a raft of interventionist policies that will be disastrous for our economy: expropriation without compensation, the mining charter, proposed changes to BEE (the ANC’s fig leaf for institutionalised corruption), the recently tabled Employment Equity Amendment Bill which empowers the Labour Minister to set racial quotas in businesses, the National Minimum Wage Bill to be enacted soon, and the Competition Amendment Bill now before parliament.

The new finance minister, Tito Mboweni, is committed to pursuing further socialist, interventionism policies, if his recent tweets are to be believed.

Meanwhile, they are allowing the cornerstones of our democracy to crumble. Most damning of all is the breakdown of our criminal justice system. Ramaphosa has had over two months (and almost a year’s warning) to appoint a National Director of Public Prosecutions to head up the National Prosecuting Authority but has so far failed to do so.

This week, the auditor general confirmed that our government is losing over R4 billion in irregular expenditure every month and yet Ramaphosa has no sense of urgency to capacitate the NPA to deal with this corruption. It’s been almost a year since the Steinhoff scandal was exposed, but still no arrests or prosecutions have been made. It is unlikely that those in VBS and Vele who benefitted from the VBS heist will be arrested and prosecuted.

Because of all this, every single economic indicator in SA is moving in the wrong direction: our economy is contracting; unemployment, poverty and inequality are growing; investor confidence is declining as seen in the steady fall of the rand; ease of doing business is declining; food, fuel and electricity prices are going up with further fuel and electricity hikes in the pipeline; and national debt is growing – we recent passed the R3 trillion mark.

We’re in a vicious circle, as this downward trajectory pushes the ANC into a corner reducing their space to implement the necessary structural reforms and making them more likely to resort to further populism.

In desperation, they are turning to the EFF, whose support they will need if they get less than 50% in 2019. They teamed up with the EFF to take the Nelson Mandela Bay metro from the DA-led coalition, even though that meant returning it to the same people who stole millions from the city before 2016. Both parties are implicated in the theft of millions from Limpopo’s rural poor in the VBS heist.

The modus operandi is the same as in Venezuela. The ANC and EFF are stealing from the poor while claiming to represent the poor. Both parties are relying heavily on charismatic, popular leaders, and have little regard for democratic institutions that check and balance power.

Hugo Chavez, the great liberator, became the great oppressor. He exposed the myth of the strong leader and the perils of personality politics and populism.  Today, the people of Venezuela can only dream of free and fair elections. While we still have the luxury of these, we should use them wisely, and fight for our freedom.

Just as it is a lot easier and cheaper to maintain a road than it is to build a new one once a road has fallen into total disrepair, so it is a lot easier to defend democracy while some of the basic foundations of democracy still exist. The 2019 national elections are the arena in which South Africans can fight for freedom and real reform that places liberal democratic institutions and good, clean government front and centre of SA’s agenda.

DA governments lead in provision of basic services, education, healthcare and job creation. We prioritise delivery to the poor and don’t tolerate corruption. In 2019, we are aiming to get the ANC below 50% in Gauteng and the Northern Cape. If we can lead coalition governments in those provinces, we can start demonstrating the DA difference there too.

Many voters believe that Cyril Ramaphosa needs a “stronger mandate” in 2019, so that he can save South Africa from the ANC. Effectively, this means they feel they should vote for the ANC to save SA from the ANC. Venezuela’s experience should warn people not to rely on personalities, but rather to support real reform and liberal democracy. In 2019, a vote for the DA will be a vote for strong, independent institutions that protect our nation’s freedom and wealth.

BOKAMOSO | Not every part of the fuel price is beyond government’s control

Wednesday’s massive 99c fuel price increase – the biggest ever in the history of our country – will have calamitous implications for millions of economically distressed South Africans. We’ve become so accustomed to this news that it is easy for us to miss the true scale of these implications. For many it will seem like just another petrol price hike, followed by some more hand-wringing from government, more calls for South Africans to “tighten the belt” and then we must simply get on with life until the next wave hits us.

But the truth is, there is no more belt left to tighten for many families. And not only families – small businesses too. We often hear how poor families spend a disproportionate part of their household income – up to a fifth of it – on transport. Well, the same goes for many small enterprises. And when this input cost rises beyond a certain point, telling them to tighten the belt is not a helpful piece of advice. Often, all they can do is shut their doors and cut their losses, leaving their own families as well as those of their employees with no income at all.

While it claims to commiserate with struggling South Africans, our government could not possibly be more out of touch with the real-life challenges of our people. In a series of tweets following the fuel price hike, the government’s first piece of advice was to “consider replacing your vehicle with a more modern, high technology, fuel efficient product”. As many people pointed out to them, this was Mary Antoinette’s “let them eat cake” all over again.

But government’s biggest mistake is not its ill-considered petrol saving advice on Twitter. Its most glaring shortcoming is its unwillingness to take any responsibility for this situation, choosing instead to blame “outside forces” for a string of increases that has seen the inland price for 95 octane petrol climb from R13-76 in March this year to R17-08 on Wednesday. If you take a step back and look at our petrol price over the past decade, you get a true sense of just how badly poor South Africans have been affected. The same litre of petrol that now costs R17-08 would have set you back R7-01 in 2007.

I know full well that there are many factors that determine the fuel price, and that some of them are beyond the control of any government. The price you see at the pump includes the cost of crude oil, the cost of refining fuel from this oil, the cost of distributing this fuel to depots and stations, the margins added by filling stations and the two government taxes, the General Fuel Levy and the Road Accident Fund (RAF) Levy. I know that Brent crude oil has increased dramatically this year, and I know that our currency has tumbled sharply against the Dollar. I have a very realistic view of what can and can’t be done to rein in the fuel price.

But for government to now wash its hands of the effects of the plummeting Rand – said to be responsible for more than half of Wednesday’s increase – is more than a little disingenuous. Our currency has weakened by almost 30% since President Ramaphosa took over, and much of this has been in direct reaction to ANC policy. When the President made his late-night television announcement on Expropriation without Compensation in July, the Rand immediately plunged by 31c to the Dollar. Yes, the weakening of our currency is a factor in the rising fuel price, but it most certainly is not an external factor over which the ANC and President Ramaphosa have no control.

And while government might want to debate its culpability in the weakening of the Rand, there can be no debate whatsoever over the tax it levies on every litre of fuel. The combined government tax now accounts for almost a third of the price of a tank of petrol or diesel. And, when measured against rises in the other input costs, this is the portion of the fuel price that has increased more than any other – 165% over the past decade. The RAF levy alone increased by more than 300% during this time. Keep in mind that the corruption-plagued RAF’s debt (R29 billion) is fast approaching the total revenue (R37 billion) it received from the fuel levy this past financial year.

The General Fuel Levy isn’t a ring-fenced tax either. It simply gets dumped into the fiscus to try and help plug the ever-widening gap between our tax revenue and our expenditure. This is the reason for the extraordinary increases over the years. The ANC has no plan stop our economy from shrinking, it has no strategy to collect taxes more efficiently through SARS and, less than a year from the elections, it seems intent to carry on spending at its current rate. Which explains increases in the tax component of the fuel price, increases in VAT, increases in personal income tax plus a host of new “sin” taxes.

This is a full-blown tax war on the citizens of the country, and it is the poorest who will end up suffering the most. The AA estimates that this latest fuel price increase will extract a further R2.5 billion a month in transport costs from an economy that is already on its knees. This will be felt across every industry.

I know there is nothing we can do about the oil price, but there is plenty we could do immediately to reduce the tax on fuel. However, judging by the limited scope of the technical team set up by government to look into the fuel price (the fuel levy does not even make up part of this investigation), it would seem that the ANC has no intention to do so. They’d rather you just bought a new car and stop complaining.

There is even more we could, and must, do in the long run to ensure that our economy grows and our currency strengthens. But this would require a complete ideology and policy shift from an ANC government so firmly rooted in the past they cannot even imagine our future. And so it will fall to a new government to revive our economy, stabilise our currency and turn our country around. Only the DA can be this government.

BOKAMOSO | Only the DA can bring change that builds one South Africa for all.

The following speech was delivered by DA Leader Mmusi Maimane on Saturday 22 September 2018 during the party’s 2019 National Elections Campaign Launch at Mary Fitzgerald Square in Newtown, Johannesburg.

My fellow South Africans,

On Monday we will celebrate our country’s beautiful and diverse heritage.

It’s a day to pause and reflect on the rich tapestry of culture and history that has shaped us into the nation we are.

Our past was brutal and divided precisely because people tried to use these differences to drive wedges between us.

They tried to tell us that our skin colours, our languages, our cultures and our religions were things that should divide us. But they couldn’t be more wrong.

Our diversity is precisely what makes us strong. Our future lies together. Never let anyone tell you otherwise.

Today I want to ask you to cast your mind back to a very specific moment in time. I want you to think back to April of 1994.

I want you to try and remember exactly how you felt then.

I remember 1994 very well. Many of you will remember it too. Some will be too young, but you will have heard the stories.

I was only a boy then, barely in my teens. But I will never, ever forget what I felt as we closed the chapter on the old South Africa and opened a new one.

I knew I was witnessing history unfolding, and I was thrilled to be part of it.

I remember what it meant to the people where I grew up – my community in Dobsonville, Soweto. The excitement was tangible.

I remember our hope, our belief that we could make it work. That we would make it work, and that we would heal our broken past.

Fellow South Africans, what happened here during the years of Apartheid and colonial rule left deep, deep wounds in our society.

These wounds haven’t healed yet, and they won’t heal for many years to come.

The injustice then remains an injustice now. The inequality then remains an inequality now.

People are still suffering today. And they will continue to suffer until we correct the structural defects in our economy.

They will continue to suffer until we break down the spatial segregation of Apartheid and bring people closer to work opportunities.

They will continue to suffer until we find a way to bridge the divide between business and labour.

They will continue to suffer until we find real solutions to dealing with our country’s historic exploitation of labour. Solutions like Mayor Mashaba’s decision to bring in thousands of contract security workers in Johannesburg, so that they can earn a decent salary and have a better hope for tomorrow.

They will continue to suffer until, through better education and training, our young people become more employable.

Yes, our country is still scarred from our past, but I remember a time when we all believed we could make this right.

When we took our first steps as a democracy back in 1994, we had a visionary leader who was able to paint a picture of what we could be if we set our hearts and minds to it.

A leader who made us believe that, whatever our country’s history and whatever our hurt, we would overcome it. Together.

A leader who reminded us we had a nation to build. A brand new nation with new ideas, new opportunities and new challenges.

We had a new government, a new Constitution and, importantly, we had millions of new neighbours.

Yes, we may have lived alongside each other for decades, but for the most part we lived past each other. We were strangers to each other, even enemies.

But that was all about to change, because for the first time ever, we were one nation. One people, bound by one common goal. And I loved how that felt.

When I saw the pictures on the TV of the helicopters flying over the Union Buildings, carrying those massive flags, my heart swelled with pride and belonging.

I had a flag, and it was beautiful.

My flag had these big bands that swept together in a V and continued as one united band. Just as we had come together from a fractured past, but were now headed towards one united destiny.

We were truly a country alive with possibilities. And these possibilities were rooted in our people. The talent, the creativity and the hunger to make a mark in the world; to leave a legacy.

Yes, there were those who said it wouldn’t work. There were those who said the wounds were too deep and the divide too wide.

There were those who predicted resistance, revenge, even civil war.

But those weren’t the people we listened to. They were a small minority.

The rest of us – the vast majority of South Africans – stood united under a new flag, bound and protected by a new Constitution, ready to face our future.

We could see a path laid out before us, stretching off into this bright new future.

Do you remember this? If you were there in 1994, can you recall how it felt?

Because I do. I remember feeling like we were united, and that we had a purpose.

But I also know that somewhere along the way we left this path.

Yes, for a while we made progress. Communities long overlooked and neglected were given services for the first time.

Electricity, water, sewage, roads, lights – the things so many of us take for granted, but which can make all the difference in the world.

Houses and schools were built. Townships started attracting new businesses, shops and big new malls.

You could see the progress all around you. In those early years it seemed like we would become the nation we dreamed of.

But it didn’t last. First our progress slowed down, and then it came to a complete stop.

Communities found themselves once again forgotten by the government, unless there was an election coming up.

Service delivery slowed down, housing projects stalled. But above all, the millions of jobs that were promised never materialised.

Every year, more and more people joined the long queues of the unemployed. Finishing school with a matric pass no longer meant anything.

The number of young people I have spoken to who spend their days at home – “chasing the sun” around the house because there’s nothing else to do – is just heart-breaking.

Every promise this government made turned out to be empty. After two decades of freedom, our people were still no closer to being free.

The South Africa I see today looks nothing like the vision of the South Africa I saw in 1994. It looks nothing like the dream we all shared. Not even close.

And I know I am not the only one to see this. Every single day in our cities and our towns across all our provinces, people voice their anger at being sold empty promises.

Crime is rising everywhere, and particularly the violent crimes like murder, rape and robbery.

People feel scared and alone. They feel like their government has abandoned them – left them at the mercy of gangs and drug dealers. They are angry about this.

Jobs are scarce, and the few jobs that are available are given to those with connections, those who pay bribes, even those who are forced to sleep with someone out of desperation. People are angry about this.

Corruption has become the new normal in government. It is an oppressive evil for which no one is ever punished. Even when all the facts come out, they still keep their jobs.

In fact, they not only keep their jobs, they get promotions. Ace Magashule is now the ANC Secretary-General. David Mabuza is now the Deputy President. People are angry about this.

All the progress that was made in bringing services to communities is slowly being reversed. These days, taps run dry and sewage flows down the streets. Municipalities can’t keep the lights on or the streets clean. And people are angry about this.

All of this anger has started boiling over in towns and cities across South Africa. Our country is on a knife’s edge all the time.

Every protest action throughout this country is a reminder of just how far we missed the target we set for ourselves in 1994.

But here’s the thing: We didn’t just happen to lose our way by accident. This wasn’t simply our bad luck.

We lost our way the moment this government realised it could become rich off the money of the people.

When it became clear just how easy it was to take the money meant for the people and put it in the pockets of politicians and their friends, that’s when we left the path.

And since then we have been drifting further and further away from the bright future we once imagined.

Instead of one nation pursuing one common goal, we were two separate South Africas living in one country.

One of these South Africas was the people with jobs; those with opportunities and connections. The economic insiders.

The other South Africa was made up of all those stuck on the outside – people without access to jobs and without the right connections.

It is this second group that is becoming bigger and bigger every year. This growing unemployment, poverty and hopelessness is the single biggest threat we face as a nation.

If we don’t find a way to bridge the gap between these two South Africas and become one nation again, then our dream of a safe and prosperous country will fade away completely.

Fellow South Africans,

The only way we will achieve this is if we’re completely honest about how we got here. And I’ll tell you right now how this happened.

It is complacency that got us here. This government realised it didn’t have to work for the people to still be voted into office.

It is indifference that got us here. We have a government that has long forgotten the sacrifices made for our freedom. A government that simply no longer cares.

And it is greed that got us here. The more they stole from the people, the more they wanted.

This is why we lost our way.

If we now want to fix our country, then we have to ask ourselves: Which South Africa do we want to live in?

Do we want to continue down the road we’re on, where the gap between the insiders and the outsiders just grows and grows until there is no way to close it up?

Or do we want to return to the dream of one united South Africa, working together to build a future in which everyone is included? A South Africa that has dealt with the inequalities of the past, and where everyone has access to opportunities.

Because if it is the latter – and I know, in my heart, that it is – then there is only one party fighting for this cause, and that party is the Democratic Alliance.

If that’s what we choose for our country, we cannot waste another moment. Our work begins right now.

Today marks the start of the DA’s Election 2019 campaign. And from now until we go to the polls, my colleagues and I will spend every single day telling South Africans what they can expect from a DA government.

It’s a simple message: The DA will bring change that builds One South Africa for All.

But captured within this simple message is everything our country needs to reach its enormous potential.

In particular we will focus on the five key issues of corruption, crime, jobs, immigration and service delivery – what we call our “agenda for change”.

These are the issues that really matter to South Africans. And they are issues which only the DA has a clear and credible plan to deal with.

Our message speaks to fighting corruption and state capture, and ridding our country of this scourge for good.

We know now that our country did not enter a new dawn after Jacob Zuma left. It is clear that nothing has changed.

The same corrupt people that sold our country to the Guptas under Zuma still occupy the top positions in this new government. No one was ever charged. No one was ever prosecuted.

Only one party takes clean, corruption-free government seriously, and that’s the DA. This much is obvious from our track record in government.

So when we say we will jail those found guilty of corruption for 15 years, you know we’ll do it.

Our message speaks to fixing our Police Force so that it can actually protect and serve the people.

I worry about the gunshots my children hear on the TV, but these gunshots happen every day in communities like Nyanga and Mitchells Plain.

Right now, our Police Force can’t keep our communities safe. They’re not properly trained to do so, and they are riddled with corruption.

The DA will transform SAPS into a lean, clean crime-fighting machine.

We will only hire people with a passion for policing, and we will retrain existing officers so they can serve and protect with pride.

We will also bring back the gang and drug units that were disbanded by the ANC government so that we can keep our communities, and particularly our young people, safe.

Our message speaks to the crucial issue of employment, and how we can ensure that all South Africans have fair access to jobs.

And when I say jobs, I mean real long-term, sustainable jobs.

Only the DA has a plan to harness the power of the private sector and the power of the entrepreneur to create these jobs.

We have proven this beyond all doubt in the province and Metros where we govern. In the last year, three-quarters of all new jobs were created in the DA-run Western Cape.

We must break down our State Owned Enterprises, we must make sure our cities can build sustainable infrastructure, and we must allow small businesses to thrive. This is our agenda for change.

But our goal is not only to help create new jobs. It is also about making sure that young people have the skills and experience to make the most of these opportunities.

We have some big plans to achieve this, like a year of voluntary national service for school leavers, and a network of job centres throughout the country.

But jobs mean nothing if all our people can’t access them. And so the DA will make fair access to jobs a key focus.

We will charge and prosecute each and everyone who tries to solicit cash for jobs, or sex for jobs.

Our message speaks to the urgent need to secure our country’s borders, welcoming those who want to come here legally, but shutting out those who try to do so illegally.

We’ll do so by strengthening our border posts and ridding Home Affairs of corruption, but also by supporting and caring for legitimate refugees and asylum seekers.

No country in the world can afford uncontrolled immigration, and particularly not a country where resources are as scarce as ours.

We need a government that is prepared to lead on this – a government that won’t allow this dangerous powder keg to be left unchecked.

Under the DA, we will immediately restore the law and order that this government has been unable to maintain.

Our message speaks to a better quality of life for our people by speeding up the delivery of basic services to all communities.

Living without these basic services is robbing people of their dignity.

All over South Africa there are still communities without access to water. There are still communities with no electricity. There are still communities that use bucket toilets.

All the promises made by government to the people living under these conditions have turned out to be empty.

In under two years, the DA-led coalition in Nelson Mandela Bay managed to rid the metro of 60% of its bucket toilets – something its previous government couldn’t do in two decades.

The DA has a plan to speed up the delivery of basic services. By cleaning up local and provincial governments we will ensure that the people’s money is spent on the people. This includes managing the allocation of government housing in a fair and transparent manner.

And finally, our message is about justice. And it is justice that lies at the heart of the land question. We will ensure that more black South Africans are able to own land through secure private property rights.

Fellow South Africans,

These issues will form the core of the message that we will be taking to every corner of the country over the coming months.

It will be our most ambitious election campaign yet. And to do so, we will rely on the efforts of the biggest team we have ever assembled. We call it Team One SA.

This team is not only DA public reps, staff members and campaign spokespersons. It’s not only signed-up DA members either.

Team One SA includes every single South African who wants to join us in building the country of our dreams, no matter how big or small their contribution.

The DA today runs a massive election operation, and in recent years we have spread to every corner of every province.

It is out in these communities where the election will be won or lost, and our vast network of activists and volunteers will form the heart and soul of Team One SA.

Anyone can be part of this movement. Whether in your community or online, your contribution will make a difference.

So I urge you to go to TeamOneSouthAfrica.co.za today and sign up. When we unite, we have the power to change anything we want to.

We have also produced a TV ad that talks about this strength in unity – about how unimportant our superficial differences are – and I would like to show it to you now.

Fellow South Africans,

I know some people have become despondent by the state of our nation in recent years.

Our daily headlines certainly make for painful reading. But I need you to keep your focus far ahead, on the ultimate goal.

I need you to remember – and to remind yourself every day – how you felt back when we all believed that anything was possible for our country.

I want you to remind yourself how it felt to be part of a unified movement towards a goal we all truly believed in.

How it felt the first time we all sang our anthem, or the first time we raised our flag.

And then I want you to ask yourself: Which country would you rather live in – the divided one we have now with its poverty, unemployment and growing anger, or a united one where we all build a shared future together?

If it’s the latter, then you know what to do in next year’s election. Because only one party can bring change that builds one South Africa for all. And that party is the DA.

So let us unite around this goal. Let us all roll up our sleeves and build the South Africa we dream of.

One nation pursuing one shared future.

Nkosi Sikelele iAfrika.

Let us live and strive for freedom in South Africa our beautiful land.

Amandla!

BOKAMOSO | Only the DA can grow the economy for all

The following speech was delivered by DA Leader Mmusi Maimane in the National Assembly on Wednesday 12 September, during the debate on the economy.

Honourable Members,

The choice we face as a country is simple: Which world do we want to live in?

Because these are two options available to us: One is the world of the ANC, and the other is the world of the DA. Each of these choices will lead us towards a distinct future.

Economists have described the ANC’s world as a pre-1990 universe. A world in which the Berlin Wall is yet to come down.

In their world, the State is everything, and must do everything.

In their world, SOE’s – no matter how badly run – are the answer.

In their world, citizens can’t be trusted to control their own destiny or own their own land. The state knows what’s best for you.

In the other world – that of the DA and many others who share our view – people hold the power over their own lives.

In our world, citizens have agency. They can own their land, run their businesses, build their wealth.

In our world, more often than not, the state must get out of the way of enterprise and progress.

Our world is one of inclusion and growth.

This is the choice we face, Honourable Members, as we contemplate the reality of a country in deep, deep crisis.

I’m not going to waste your time telling you about the extent of our economic distress. We all know this.

9.6 million people cannot find work.

Real per capita income has been dropping for the past five years.

Our national debt has ballooned to R3 trillion.

And we now face the threat of a further sovereign rating downgrade.

Anyone still denying that South Africa is in the midst of a severe economic crisis has no business standing up here on this podium today debating solutions.

Parliament should ask why we find ourselves here, and what we should do to fix it.

One analyst described our situation this week as “death by a thousand cuts”, referring to the many factors that came together to paralyse our growth and bleed our fiscus dry. And this is largely true.

Yes, corruption has cost us dearly. As much as R100 billion, according to some estimates.

Yes, the crisis at SARS has led to a huge under-collection of around R50 billion.

Yes, the never-ending bailouts of our poorly-run State-Owned Enterprises continue to divert tens of billions of Rands away from other crucial budget items each year.

Yes, our ever-expanding public sector wage bill along with our massive cabinet place a drain on our fiscus that we simply cannot afford.

Yes, populist policies such as Expropriation Without Compensation, the nationalisation of the Reserve Bank and the proposed NHI are a recipe for economic disaster.

All of these things played a part in bringing our economy to its knees.

But they pale in comparison to the biggest cause of them all – the economic elephant in the room that still goes unmentioned in so much of the analysis.

What lies at the very heart of our country’s crisis is the ANC.

The fact is this: The ANC doesn’t accept responsibility for causing this recession, and it has no plan to get us out of recession.

This administration is only seven months old, but it is already stumbling around in the dark looking for excuses, instead of facing up to hard truths.

There is no plan. There is no firm direction.

You can come here today and attack the DA’s plan to rescue the economy, but we have a plan. And where we govern, this plan is working.

In Johannesburg, the government of Mayor Mashaba has already attracted more than R6 billion in investment since taking over in 2016.

In Tshwane, Mayor Msimanga’s government has tripled investment in the metro.

75% of new jobs added in the past year were created in the DA-run Western Cape.

Honourable Members,

We all know that South Africa has a big problem. And it is a problem that won’t be solved with a stimulus package or an investment conference.

The root of our problem is an ANC that has no shared, positive vision for our future, never mind the ability to lead us there.

We have already been left behind by the rest of the world – and indeed by our African neighbours.

While the rest of the world surges forward with innovative and dynamic economies, we are retreating back to a time of state-led economies.

While the rest of the world embraces inclusive economic growth as the instrument to lift people out of poverty, we can’t look beyond redistributing what’s already there.

Our government is so obsessed with control, it cannot see how it is suffocating enterprise and strangling small business.

It honestly believes that every state failure just needs another state programme to fix it.

You cannot grow like this. This has to change.

Stop blaming the Global Financial Crisis. That was ten years ago. The world has moved on.

Stop blaming Jacob Zuma, as is fashionable these days. Jacob Zuma didn’t cause this mess, he only exploited it because he was allowed to.

The blame lies squarely at the feet of the failed ANC, collectively.

And if the ANC government can’t swap its outdated worldview for one better suited to the 21st century, then we must swap the ANC government for one that can take this country forward. That is the DA.

I know our country is ready to become part of a dynamic global economy. Just this morning I visited a business incubation and training centre in Delft, and what I saw there was inspiring.

We certainly don’t lack motivated people with ideas.

Honourable Members,

If there is real commitment to “picking up” the Rand and turning the economy to growth, then it is time for real choices. Hard but necessary choices that will restore investor confidence and get us out of the red.

Number One: We must cut loose the SOE’s that are dragging us under. This means the privatisation – or at least part-privatisation – of South African Airways, and splitting Eskom into two separate businesses, one for power production and one for power distribution.

Number Two: We must put an end to the stifling Eskom monopoly by allowing cities to purchase electricity directly from independent power producers.

Number Three: We have to curb spending and stabilise our national debt at 50% of GDP by introducing a fiscal austerity package. All revenue shortfalls must be covered by cutting waste, and not by increasing taxes.

Number Four: We must trim our Cabinet by more than half. Our massive executive with its double ministers for each portfolio is a direct result of patronage politics. We simply can’t afford this.

Number Five: We must exempt small businesses from complying with unworkable labour legislation. Those employing less than 250 people must be given every chance of success, and the only labour laws they should have to adhere to are the Basic Conditions of Employment.

Number Six: Immediately settle all budgeted-for invoices that are owed to small businesses by National and Provincial governments. This alone will add a R28 billion boost to the SMME sector.

And Seven: Scrap the reckless populist policies that are destroying investor confidence in our country and have sent business confidence to an all-time low.

Abandon your irresponsible and reckless plunge towards Expropriation Without Compensation. Let’s reform the land and keep our Constitution intact.

This doesn’t mean land reform and restitution must be delayed. On the contrary, it must be sped up, and it must involve the transfer of full title. But this cannot be done at the expense of property rights and the rule of law.

Stand up for the independence of the Reserve Bank, instead of trying to nationalise it. Protect and defend our excellent Governor; stop undermining him.

If we can implement these changes right away, we can undo much of the damage caused over the past decade.

What we can’t do is sit back and watch our growth stagnate for another quarter, and then another.

Because poor South Africans cannot withstand this. Their “real” household income cannot shrink any further – life is already barely affordable.

Now is the time to make some hard choices. Not easy choices like taking on more loans or hiking VAT. Hard choices about the world we want to live in.

And this means choosing either the unity of the ANC or the prosperity of South Africa. We can’t have both.

Thank you.